Right next to Namdaemun Market is Sungnyemun Gate, which is unofficially called Namdaemun Gate but the Korean government refers to it as Sungnyemun to help distinguish the gate from the market. Sungnyemun was built in 1398 as one of eight gates in Seoul’s old city walls. It marked the southern entrance to the city and when Seoul’s walls were demolished in the early 1900s the gate was kept standing. Up until 2008 the pagoda on top of Sungnyemun was the oldest wooden structure in Korea but that year it was badly damaged by an arsonist’s fire and it would take five years of restoration work before it was rebuilt. Sungnyemun holds the distinction of being Korea’s first officially declared national treasure and it’s a fragment of Seoul’s past that stands right in the middle of the modern city.
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