Restoration of Sungnyemun
By Shim Hyun-chul
In the rapidly expanding forest of skyscrapers in Seoul, one modest architectural structure stands proudly. Songnyemun, National Treasure No.1.
A fire engulfed the wooden gate four years ago ― now the country’s master craftsmen are dedicating their time and talent to revive the historical monument.
Currently, the project is three-quarters accomplished. Carpenters are assembling the gatehouse on the second level. The administration plans to complete the frame by the end of June.
East of the site was originally slanted, but with the development of roads the ground level was lowered. They will be installing stonework to even the ground.
The administration is striving to use material similar to the original structure. Each piece of wood is shaped by hand. Even the tools used for restoration were made specifically for this project.
For the “dancheong” (traditional multicolored paintwork on wooden buildings), the agency will primarily use blue and green to create an elegant exterior.
The highlight will be “sangnyangsik,” ceremony of putting up the ridge beam to mark the completion of the gate’s frame, scheduled for March 8. They will be putting on the roof at the end of October.
The new structure will be armed with heat sensors, security cameras, and sprinklers to prevent any fire hazard.
The five-year restoration process will end on Dec. 13 with the removal of the protective structure around the gate.