The Great Korea Firestorm of 2005


What a turn of events. Yesterday was a nice, sunny day in Seoul. Today the weather is dismal with heavy rains and high winds. It is the first major rainstorm I’ve seen since we arrived here. Traffic was abysmal, and tonight around 7 p.m. the power in our neighborhood went out for five hours. I felt like crashing tonight anyway after an unusually difficult day at work, so I took advantage of the darkness and went to sleep early. I woke up again at 12:30 a.m. and noticed that the power was on. Now I awake in the middle of the night, and I can’t think of a better way to wind down the day than to post a late night blog entry. So much for being productive around the house. Sometimes you have to change your plans.

Sadly, Korea also lost most of one of its greatest national treasures, Naksansa Temple. A forest fire swept through the area, destroying the temple compound and hundreds of acres of forestland. Located on Korea’s eastern coast not far from Sokcho City, Naksansa housed several important artifacts, including a bronze bell scorched by the blaze. The Buddhist temple was first built in 676 A.D. during the Silla Dynasty. Authorities were able to salvage some artifacts, but iit will take years for Korea to rebuild and restore this national treasure to its original condition. I would have loved to visit Naksansa during our stay here. Now I won’t have that chance.

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