The capital's oldest wooden structure caught fire at 8:46 p.m. yesterday and was burnt to its foundations by 2 a.m., police officials said. Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire.
Namdaemun, which South Korea declared its "National Treasure No. 1'' in 1962, was completed in the early Chosun Dynasty during the reign of its first King Taejo in 1398 and was one of Seoul's eight main gates. It was renovated in 1447 and has undergone repairs, the latest in 1961.
The rebuilding of Namdaemun will take at least three years and cost about 20 billion won ($21.2 million), Yonhap News reported, citing Kim Sang Koo, a Cultural Heritage Administration official in charge of the architectural heritage division.