Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Destroyer of the Gate

One of the very first things they taught us to say in Korean at the Defense Language Institute was "I am going to Namdaemun."

Namdaemun is the South Gate of the City in Seoul. It is about 600 years old. (At right is Namdaemun in 1904.)

So it was a little jarring to see these images around the net over the past few days:
They have caught the 70 year old man they believe is the arsonist. He has been setting fire to other national landmarks as well.

Below is the gate in its previous glory.

Korea has some of the most beautiful wooden temples and palaces in the world. Sad to see the destruction of this one.

1 comment:

Thomas Garvey said...

I wasn't familiar with the Namdaemun Gate, but I understand your sentiments, Art. What is it in mankind that causes us, eventually, to attempt to destroy what is beautiful? What has caused people to attempt to smash Michelangelo's David and Pieta? It's chilling to ponder that almost every great masterpiece, sooner or later, is attacked. Perhaps the ultimate version of this common tale was in the New Yorker a few years ago - it told of a man who sought out the only golden spruce in the world (which had been standing for 300 years on a remote island off British Columbia) and then cut it down with a chainsaw. As a protest against "university trained professionals and their extremist supporters." The man subsequently vanished into the wilderness. But trust me, his spirit lives on.