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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Find Arsonist Suspected of Torching Ancient Landmark

SEOUL, South Korea -- Police arrested a suspect Monday in a fire that destroyed a 610-year-old wooden structure atop a gate considered South Korea's top national treasure, Yonhap news agency reported Tuesday.

Police arrested a 70-year-old man, only identified by his family name, Chae, on Ganghwa Island, west of Seoul, Yonhap said, citing an unidentified police officer.

The fire broke out Sunday night and burned down the wooden structure at the top of the Namdaemun gate, which once formed part of a wall that encircled the South Korean capital.

The structure collapsed as 360 firefighters attempted to put the blaze under control, officials said. The gate's large stone base remained intact.

Yonhap said the man had been charged in 2006 with allegedly setting fire to the Changgyeong Palace in Seoul.

President-elect Lee Myung-bak visited the fire scene early Monday, saying he deplored the destruction of Namdaemun, the namesake of Seoul's central district and a major tourist attraction.

"People's hearts will ache," Lee told officials as he received a briefing.

Hundreds of South Koreans gathered near the badly charred structure Monday night, as several dozen police and workers stood by.

"My heart is burning," Lee Il-soo, a 56-year-old man who runs a small business, said as he fought back tears. He said the fire destroyed the 610-year-old pride of South Korea.