Since the destruction of Sungnyemun Gate (a.k.a. Namdaemun) by fire in February 2008, I have felt like a sinner whenever I pass by the site for not having been able to protect the country’s National Treasure No. 1. Perhaps, such sentiment is shared by all Koreans.
On May 4, we held a ceremony for the completion of the restoration work for the gate. Many people gathered to attend the ceremony.
Today, an agreement was made between Seoul Metropolitan Government and Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) on cultural heritage protection. At present, CHA is primarily responsible for the preservation and management of cultural heritage objects nationwide, including those in Seoul. Still, all of us should share the responsibility.
Seoul has been the capital of the country since the Hanseong Baekje Period. There are many precious cultural heritage objects in Seoul that we should take care of. One day in the first winter after my inauguration as Seoul Mayor, I walked along the Seoul city wall. I felt as if the workers mobilized to build the castle 600 years ago were right beside me.
With regard to a question on a representative landmark of Seoul, I think the answer is the Seoul city wall. Displaying the wisdom of our ancestors, the castle walls are a great object that compares favorably with any counterpart in other countries. We at Seoul Metropolitan Government are taking steps to register the walls as UNESCO-designated world heritage. We are making efforts to take good care of all objects left by our ancestors, considering each one of them to be precious.
The agreement signed today with CHA will enable us at Seoul Metropolitan Government to share the expertise and knowledge it has in the efforts made to preserve cultural heritage objects left by our ancestors and hand them over to the next generations.