Gov’t tried to recreate techniques

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Gov’t tried to recreate techniques

The Korean government made efforts to recreate the techniques of traditional color pigments and adhesives.

The Lee Myung-bak administration, during which the arson attack took place, declared that the restoration would be the first in Korea in which the coloring would be done in 100 percent traditional style. They summoned artisans to define what is dancheong (traditional coloring), and what was needed to complete the restoration. In 2008, a team was formed to look into what style of dancheong would be applied to Sungnyemun.

Between 2011 and 2012, the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and the Cultural Heritage Conservation Science Center tested traditional color pigments and materials. In 2011, the Korea National University of Cultural Heritage spent about 31.5 million won ($29,675) testing the adhesive.

Park Wang-hee, a manager of CHA’s repair technique department, admitted a possible loophole: “In the research process, the measurements and mix are calculated exactly, but in the construction site there could be miscalculation as many people are involved and take turns.”

Of the 27.7 billion won the Korean government spent on the restoration, about 2.4 percent was used in coloring - which includes the purchase of traditional color pigments, adhesive and wages to workers.

Most observers say it wasn’t because the government didn’t do enough research, or was being stingy, but rather the management of the construction site wasn’t meticulous amid Koreans’ tendency to rush things.

One person involved in the restoration told JoongAng Sunday: “It’s true that there were problems in the construction site, but if we listened to all the opinions and attempted to reflect on them, progress would’ve been much slower.”


BY SPECIAL REPORTING TEAM [hkim@joongang.co.kr]
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