Police arrest mastermind behind last year’s palace vandalism

Following the inauguration ceremony of the patrol unit for Gyeongbokgung Palace's outer walls at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, Ko Jeong-ju, Director of the Gyeongbokgung Palace Management Office, explains the graffiti vandalism site to attendees on May 8. (Yonhap)

Following the inauguration ceremony of the patrol unit for Gyeongbokgung Palace’s outer walls at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, Ko Jeong-ju, Director of the Gyeongbokgung Palace Management Office, explains the graffiti vandalism site to attendees on May 8. (Yonhap)

Police said Thursday they have arrested a suspect who allegedly commissioned teenagers to paint graffiti on the walls of a historic palace in central Seoul to advertise an illegal streaming website.

The 30-something suspect, who was arrested the previous day, faces charges for violating the Cultural Heritage Protection Act, as well as other charges including the distribution of obscene materials, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.

The arrest comes about five months after the suspect commissioned two teenagers to paint the phrase “free movie” on the walls of Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul in December, as well as other locations including the National Palace Museum of Korea.

Police have secured evidence that the suspect committed the act to promote his website. Additionally, he faces charges of posting child exploitation materials on the site.

Investigators plan to seek an arrest warrant for the suspect and investigate his motive.

Meanwhile, the Korea Heritage Service estimates the cost of restoring the vandalism damage, including that caused by copycat crimes, at 150 million won ($110,000). The authority plans to file a lawsuit against those responsible. (Yonhap)

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