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Officials slammed over ‘shoddy’ temple repair work

Korea’s oldest wooden structure building located in Bongjeong Temple in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, is showing cracks and other signs of damage only seven years after it underwent major repairs.

The building, Geungnakjeon, meaning “paradise hall” serves as the main building of the historic temple, housing its Buddha statue. The building’s side walls and columns are showing visible cracks, and parts of timbers are protruding out of their original positions.

Large-scale restoration work on Geungnakjeon was undertaken from 2001 to 2003, as its eaves were drooping due to the building’s old age and weight imbalance.
Geungnakjeon of Bongjeong Temple in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, is already showing signs of damage, seven years after undergoing repairs. (Yonhap News)
Geungnakjeon of Bongjeong Temple in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, is already showing signs of damage, seven years after undergoing repairs. (Yonhap News)

The Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea replaced the rotten parts of the affected timbers with artificial materials.

The heritage administration said Wednesday that the protruding timbers were wooden pieces that had been used to fill the cracks back in 1972. None of the damage resulted from the 20012003 restoration work, and the building is safe for visitors, the administration said.

The Bongjeong Temple was founded by Buddhist monk Uisang in 672 during the Unified Silla period. Geungnakjeon is said to have been built in the 13th century. It was designated as National Treasure No. 15 in 1962.

The Korea Cultural Heritage Policy Research Institute, a civic organization, blamed the government for the poor repair work. “It’s only been seven years,” Hwang Hyung-woo, a representative of the group said. “If the restoration had been properly done, such cracks wouldn’t be showing now.”

The Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea said they will “keep monitoring” the historic temple while repairing the newly discovered cracks and damage.

By Claire Lee (clairelee@heraldcorp.com)
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