70 year old arsonist arrested for Namdaemun fire
Korea's Yonhap news reported that police caught Mr. Chae the following day based on eyewitness leads.
Police reported that on Sunday February 10th, at 8:50pm, Mr. Chae climbed onto the second floor of Namdaemun to spray flammable material before setting it ablaze.
This wasn't the first time Mr. Chae has been caught playing arson.
In April of 2006, Mr. Chae set fire to Changkyung-kung, a royal palace and caused about 5,000 USD in damages. He was later released on parole.
Regarding the Changkyung-kung fire, Mr. Chae stated that he committed the arson because of government failure to adequately compensate him for property taken for redevelopment.
Police have arrested a 70-year-old man in connection with the fire, according to the South Korean Yonhap news agency.
The fire started around 9 p.m. Sunday and burned for hours.
More than a hundred firefighters poured water on the more-than-600-year-old structure, trying to save it.
The gate has stood at the center of Seoul, having served as the main entry point into the capital centuries ago, and is considered a national symbol to Koreans around the world.
President-elect Lee Myung-bak visited the scene and deplored the landmark's destruction.
"People's hearts will ache," he told officials, The Associated Press reported.