South Korea's Sungnyemun Gate Reopens to Public

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South Korea's ancient Sungnyemun Gate reopens to the public after five years of restoration work since it was destroyed in an arson attack.

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South Korea's ancient Sungnyemun Gate reopened to the public on Saturday after it was destroyed in an arson attack five years ago.

The South Korean Cultural Heritage Administration said it cost 24.7 billion won ($22 million) to restore the gate and involved 35,000 personnel, including historians, field experts and workers.

President Park Geun-hye and about 650 officials and guests were at the opening ceremony of the building that is considered one of South Korea's national treasures.

[Park Geun-hye, South Korean President]:
"Today's revival of Sungnyemun is not simply the restoration of a cultural property. I believe it will revive our people's pride and open a door for the new era and hope."

South Korea's master carpenters and craftsmen worked on the restoration of the massive stone and wood structure and visitors were impressed.

This man donated his pine tree to restore the gate.

[Song Neung-kwon, Visitor]:
"It has been five years and three months since the Sungnyemun was destroyed in fire, but it has been reborn magnificently in front of our people as you can see now. I'm deeply moved and my heart is full."

[Kim Myung-ok, Visitor]:
"I saw the Sungnyemun fire on television in 2008, which broke my heart. After five years, I'm so happy to see the restoration of the gate."

The gate, built in 1398, was the oldest wooden structure in Seoul. It had survived invasions and colonial occupation and was one of the few historic structures in the capital to remain standing after the 1950-53 Korean War.

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