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Termites infest famous Korean temples

by Emi Hailey Hayakawa, BTN, Feb 25, 2013

Seoul, South Korea -- Termites have been a constant problem in the traditional Korean buildings, since most of Korea’s cultural properties are made of wood. Termites penetrate and devour the buildings, which include traditional Korean Buddhist monasteries.

<< Tongdosa - one of the key historical temples infested with termites

According to the inspections that were conducted by the Cultural Heritage Administration for the past 4 years, 78 out of 231 buildings were infested by termites, and 18 buildings had an ongoing termite problem. High-profile important temples such as Tongdosa, Songgwangsa, and Beomeosa temples all face the same problems.

Detection of termite infestation are only possible only after damages were made. During the meeting held on February 14th, 2013, the Cultural Heritage Administration announced that the termite infestation was due to global warming as termites thrive in warm, humid environments. According to the data from the Korea Weather Administration, the  temperature and humidity of the Korean peninsula surged within the past sixty years.

They also added that not enough budget to take care of the buildings was another factor that added to the termite infestations. As a result, the damage to wooden cultural properties is getting more serious by the day.

Professor Jeong stated that it is difficult to prevent the infestation once termites are present in the treasures and buildings, what is important is to prevent the termites from latching on to the buildings.

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