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Sungnyemun: South Korean National Ttreasure Reopens After Fiver Year Restoration

Travelers Today       By    Natasha Hanano

Updated: May 12, 2013 09:38 PM EDT

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Five years after South Korean national treasure, Sungnyemun started a huge restoration project, it reopened to the public this week. Sungneymun is known as Namdaemun or the Great South Gate and is considered one of South Korea's most important historic landmarks and has a 600 year old history.

The site located in Seoul opened to the public on May 4. CNN reported that to mark its opening there was a Buddhist ritual called cheondo done and a military band, parade, prayer ceremonies and dancing.

In 2008 someone set fire to the site and the building finally collapsed into itself.

"As shocking was the realization that the landmark had little security to protect it from the arson attempts of a 69-year-old man, who reportedly explained his actions by saying he hadn't been paid enough for land he'd sold to a development company," reported CNN.

he five year project to restore the historic site costs $23 million.

 "A number of things were changed about the gate in the restoration -- we reverted back to how it was before the Japanese changed it during the occupation," a member of the restoration team said to CNN."The stairways were widened to the size they were before the occupation, and, of course, we also focused a great deal on fire resistance."

It was originally built in 1398 with the purpose of controlling access to the capital as well as welcoming diplomats from other countries and protecting the city. Today it is in the center of the city and located next to the largest traditional market in South Korea. It has become a popular tourist attraction.

Sungnyemun has been restored to its original appearance but many are still angry over the arson on the historic landmark. Office worker So Hyun Lee who works across the street from the site said to CNN, "All the restoration work in the world can't make it what it was before."

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