An arsonist torched South Korea’s Namdaemun gate Sunday, robbing the nation of one of its greatest treasures—and visitors to Seoul of one of the city’s historic highlights.
The 610-year-old wooden gate, considered a symbol of South Korea around the world, also served as an entrance to the Namdaemun Market, the day-and-night complex of shops where nearly every IgoUgo traveler to Seoul has indulged in some serious shopping. Luckily, the market, which travelswithkids says is “not just a market for tourist souvenirs, but really full of shops and stalls for the local populace,” escaped the flames unscathed. But local and visiting shoppers will have to wait an estimated 3 years for the gate to be restored—longer if it’s determined that the monument must be rebuilt from the ground up.
In the meantime, travelers can still catch “Koreans going about their daily business,” as globe trotter observed, in the shadow of the gate at Namdaemun Market. The revered entrance, though, will be missed.