[EDITORIALS]Haste makes waste

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[EDITORIALS]Haste makes waste

We are deeply concerned with the controversy about building an exhibition hall for a replica of Seokguram, a stone Buddha in a cave near Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju. The image is designated a national treasure and is also on Unesco's World Heritage List. The Cultural Properties Administration held a public meeting Friday to explain its plan for the replica. Members of a cultural properties subcommittee that reviewed and rejected the plan did not participate in the meeting, so we lost the chance for a healthy debate on the issue.

We blame the Cultural Properties Administration for doing a sloppy job on this issue. Although nobody is opposed to plans to preserve Seokguram and help visitors understand its significance, the administration botched the job. They asked only one of the six subcommittees of the Cultural Properties Committee to examine the matter. The subcommittee that handled the matter is responsible for reviewing historical buildings to see if they are worth preserving and for deciding if repairing an artifact would lessen its value. The question of building an exhibition hall of 396 square meters with one level above ground and one below should be decided only after evaluating the exhibition hall's effects on the view of Bulguksa Temple and the aesthetic value of the replica. In sum, a review only by the single cultural subcommittee is not sufficient.

Korea has not had much experience in producing replicas of historical properties. This is the first effort to build a replica of a national treasure to help people understand its structure and principles. That is why we cannot put up with carelessness in this matter. It is better to correct errors now rather than later.

The location of the exhibition hall should not disrupt the existing landscape of Bulguksa Temple. On the other hand, it would be less effective to have the hall too far away from Seokguram. We need to find a very delicate balance in this matter. We believe that a public hearing should collect opinions from every quarter of our society. But the final decision should be made at a joint meeting of subcommittees of the Cultural Properties Committee. We should not hesitate to start again, if we have set out on the wrong path.
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