Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Namdaemun Down in Flames

Last night, "a guy in his 50s" torched Namdaemun-- Korea's national treasure number 1. Karl thinks National Treasure number 2 played a role. Joking aside, I really can't express how I feel about this.

I am more than a little angry that the nation has literal hordes of riot police to "protect" every square inch of Seoul were one might run into an American, but they can't spare one or two to guard it's number one national treasure?

Apparently, some of the blame lies with the firefighters who "thought" the fire had been extinguished. You know, in some countries, firefighters check every inch of a fire to check for smoldering... The president-elect has said it will cost $21 million and take three years to rebuild.

Update: A classic example of why Korea will always be foreign to me. The arsonist has been caught. He was trying to get attention to his cause (a property compensation dispute) and was caught last year trying to burn down one of the palaces. Are you kidding me? Seriously, is there any other culture where that would make sense? This is like someone in the US destroying the Liberty Bell to protest losing part of their yard to a road widening project.


Mia said...

Well, of course a Korean would never do anything bad like setting a building on fire. Typical police work everywhere.

Jen said...

Yeah, some of the commentors on news sites are strongly opining that a foreigner must of have done it. I'm not really sure what their reasoning is, beyond, "Surely no Korean could have done this."

I realize that life in Korea is a whole different world for English teachers than factory "trainees", but I can't see anyone thinking of torching Namdaemun as a means of protest. The factory they are being mistreated by or the office of the recruiter that lied to them maybe, but not a historical site.

JRS said...

I'm sick about it too. You're right about the police--anywhere around the US Embassy or where the base used to be in Yongsan is crawling with them. Too bad they didn't do a better job of protecting their national treasures.

Blame the foreigners. Yep. Of course. It's always the default position in Japan too. I've been stopped by plainclothes "terrorism police" here a few times. When I put up a fight and claim discrimination I tell them to randomly stop some Japanese people too. But they won't, because "it's for terrorism"...forget the fact that the only acts of terrorism in Japan have been committed by Japanese.

And hey, wasn't it some Korean kid who went on a rampage in Virginia? Bet he would have been capable of arson.

Sad, sad, sad.