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Won 8.8 Bil. To Be Spent on Rebuilding Naksan-sa Temple

By Kim Ki-tae, The Korea Times Staff Reporter, May 18, 2005

Seoul, South Korea -- The government will spend around 8.8 billion won ($8.8 million) to restore Naksan-sa Temple, which was burnt down by last month?s forest fires in Kangwon Province.

Culture and Tourism Minister Chung Dong-chea yesterday reported at the weekly Cabinet meeting that the collapsed temple buildings will be rebuilt in two or three years.

The ministry allotted 8.7 billion won for the reconstruction works and 0.1 billion won for the remolding of the temple?s bronze bell, which was melted during the blaze. ``The restoration of the bell will take around six months,?? the ministry?s assistant minister Lee Bo-kyong told reporters.

The forest fire, which devastated more than 400 hectares in Yangyang and Kosong of Kangwon Province early April, scorched the 1,400-year-old temple?s 12 buildings and its invaluable treasures, including the bronze bell. Chogye Order of Korean Buddhism estimates the total restoration will take around 30 billion won. The order is expected to shoulder the remaining expenditure.

In a related development, the ministry also announced a set of policies to prevent other ancient Buddhist temples, many of which are located deep in mountainous areas, from catching fire.

``We plan to allow the temples to deforest areas within 20 or 30 meters from their compounds to prevent a forest fire from spreading to buildings,?? Lee said.

The ministry also plans to plant trees that are more fireproof and install or widen roads leading to the temples to ease access by fire engines.

The ministry said there are 476 Buddhist temples around the nation containing treasures, designated by either the central or local governments, within their compounds.

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