Thursday, 1 May 2008

Seoul Sungnyemun

This evening, while furkling among the islands to the West of Caledon, I got an Instant Message from an old acquaintance with whom I'd not spoken for many, many months: Noneget Barnes, head of Korean build company, Acid Crebiz. We had a bit of a chat about the apparently parlous state of Second Life in Korea, and the fact that Cyworld are now demonstrating a 3D element for their hugely popular social network. He then offered me a teleport to Seoul 2, part of a cluster of 4 Seoul sims where the company appears to be building a virtual chunk of the city.

Sitting at the intersection of these 4 sims is a virtual replica of the Sungnyemun (or Namdaemun) - the historic city gate situated in the heart of Seoul. This is particularly poignant as the original gate, a construction of stone surmounted by a delicate and complex wooden structure, was severely damaged by fire on 10th February, this year. It has a history dating back to the 1300's, though it has been through a number of traumas and reconstructions in that time. It was made Korea's "National Treasure Number 1" in 1962, and it is a sad loss - or at least, setback - for Seoul and Korea. According to wikipedia: "A 69-year-old man identified as Chae Jong-gi was arrested on suspicion of arson and then later confessed to the crime. A police captain reported that Chae sprayed paint thinner on the floor of the structure and then set fire to it. Police say that Chae was upset about not being paid in full for land he had sold to developers. The same man had been charged with setting a fire at Changgyeong Palace in Seoul in 2006."

I admire the execution of the build - which you will find bears an uncanny resemblance to the real building (pre-inferno). And I particularly admire this as a response to the fire. It demonstrates more than amply, how powerful Second Life can be as a visualisation tool, and how strongly it can work on and with the emotions. This is a dignified and rather wonderful construction, that serves as a sort of virtual placemarker and reminder, while the real building is reconstructed.

Here's a few snaps to give you the flavour, but it is best experienced first hand:

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