Cracked Gwanghamun signboard to be replaced

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Cracked Gwanghamun signboard to be replaced

The controversial signboard of Seoul’s iconic palace gate Gwanghwamun, on which minute cracks had formed just months after its restoration, will be replaced, the Cultural Heritage Museum said Tuesday.

The wood panel on which “Gwanghwamun” is written in Chinese characters was found last month to have vertical cracks running alongside the rightmost character, “Gwang,” which means “light,” just three months after the opening of the newly restored gate.

Gwanghwamun, meaning the “gate that spreads light over the world,” is the front and main gate to Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul, which served as the main royal residence for the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897).

The Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea said it reached the decision to replace the signboard rather than repair it. The existing panel will be kept in place until a new one is built. The administration said in a press release that it does not know when the signboard will be replaced.

The newly restored Gwanghwamun was unveiled this year on Liberation Day, Aug. 25. That month also marked the 100th anniversary of Japan’s annexation of Korea.

The cracks were discovered by Choi Moon-soon, a lawmaker of the main opposition Democratic Party.

The heritage agency says surface cracks are common with pine timber, which was used for the Gwanghwamun board. Dry weather or rapid temperature change can cause expansion or contraction in pine, which can lead to miniscule cracks on its surface, it said earlier.

Gwanghwamun was originally set to reopen at the end of December but the schedule was moved up to August to be ready for the G-20 Summit in November. Some architects said the pine was not given ample time to dry properly.

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