South Korea to restore Gwanghwamun in capital

South Korea said Tuesday it will restore one of Seoul's best-known landmarks and a fortress wall that used to encircle the ancient capital. Under a nine-year-plan, South Korea plans to move Gwanghwamun, the tile-roofed stone gate that guards Seoul's ancient royal palace to its original site, and restore a 2.5-kilometer-long (1.55-mile-long) fortress wall, according to the Cultural Heritage Administration.

Under the project, security restrictions on mountains near the presidential office in the city center will also be lifted, it said. The administration also plans to create a plaza in front of the restored Gwanghwamun to make it a symbolic central space in the city. The 607-year-old Gwanghwamun, the namesake of Seoul's central district, was destroyed by Japanese invaders in the late 16th century and rebuilt in 1865. The gate was torn down and moved to make room for the Japanese governor's building during Tokyo's 1910-45 colonial rule.

The gate was destroyed again by aerial bombing during the 1950-53 Korean War and rebuilt in 1968. Yoo Hong-joon, head of the Cultural Heritage Administration, said areas near the Gwanghwamun should be turned into a cultural complex, and expressed hopes the plan could win the city designation as a world heritage site by the U.N. cultural organization UNESCO, reports the AP. N.U.