Fire engulfs old Buddhist temple in southwestern region

JEONGEUP, South Korea-- A fire destroyed the main hall of Naejang Temple, one of South Korea's oldest Buddhist temples, on Friday in a suspected arson attack, firefighting authorities said.

Firefighters received the initial report of the fire at the temple in the southwestern city of Jeongeup at around 6:30 p.m.

The blaze burned down the wooden Daewungjeon building, while firefighters were trying to stop the fire from spreading to other structures, the authorities said. No casualties were reported.

Police later arrested a suspected arsonist, a 53-year-old monk.

First built in 636 during the reign of King Mu of the Baekje Kingdom (18 BC-668 AD), the temple burned down in 1951 during the Korean War (1950-53) and was restored in 1958.

Another fire caused by a short circuit destroyed Daewungjeon in October 2012, along with all its Buddhist statues and paintings inside, before the building was restored in 2015.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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