* Story Highlights
* NEW: “Mr. Chae” was convicted of torching a Korean palace in 2006
* NEW: Chae has confessed to starting the Namdaemun fire, police chief says
* NEW: Easy access, lightly populated area dictated Namdaemun choice, police say
* The more-than-600-year-old Namdaemun was country’s oldest wooden structure
From Sohn Jie-ae
SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) — A 69-year-old who was previously convicted of torching a palace has been arrested in connection with a fire that destroyed Namdaemun, South Korea’s oldest wooden structure and a national treasure, authorities said on Tuesday.
Similarities between the Sunday night fire and the 2006 blaze led to the investigation of a man identified only as Mr. Chae, said Kim Young-Su, chief of police of the Namdaemun police station. Chae had served time in prison for the palace fire.
Police searched the home of Chae’s ex-wife and found a can of paint thinner and a pair of leather gloves they believe were used in the fire, Kim said.
Chae confessed to starting the fire, saying he was upset by a land grievance that led him to start the 2006 fire and by the sentence he was handed in that case, Kim said.
Chae was free on a suspended sentence, Kim added.
Chae said he chose Namdaemun because it was easily accessible by public transportation and yet situated in a lightly populated area where the fire was unlikely to hurt people, according to police.
The fire burned for hours, and more than a hundred firefighters tried to save it.
Namdaemun was more than 600 years old and stood at the center of Seoul, having served as a main gate into the capital for centuries. The gate was considered a national symbol to Koreans around the world.
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The Chinilpa has struck again. I am sure this is great new for many Koreanphobes (Japanophiles) and Chinilpa (Korean Japanophiles). Good thing they can get the Great Southern Gate restored by 2012 in the best case scenario.