Teenagers Arrested for Graffiti on Historic Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul

SEOUL, South Korea - Seoul police have arrested two teenagers for creating a 44-meter-long graffiti mural on the walls of Gyeongbok Palace, a historic site in central Seoul. The incident, which occurred last weekend, has led to significant concerns about the protection of cultural heritage.

According to Yonhap News Agency, The Seoul Jongno Police Station reported that the arrests were made on Tuesday evening. A 17-year-old male was apprehended at his home in Suwon, 30 kilometers south of Seoul, followed by the detention of a 16-year-old female accomplice in the vicinity. The suspects were identified through surveillance camera analysis, which showed them evading detection while committing the act.

On Saturday, the duo sprayed the phrase "free movie" in Korean using red and blue paint on both sides of the western gate to Gyeongbok Palace and on walls near the National Palace Museum of Korea. They also included the names of illegal video-sharing and streaming platforms in their graffiti. Similar vandalism was discovered on the walls of the nearby Seoul Metropolitan Agency.

The teenagers are now facing charges under the Cultural Heritage Protection Act. Police are investigating the motive behind the graffiti and the possibility of additional accomplices involved in the crime.

In a related incident, another individual accused of vandalizing the western gate of the palace in a copycat crime turned himself in to the police the following day.

Gyeongbok Palace, a key royal residence during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), is a state-designated historic site. Both the gate and the walls targeted in the graffiti are recognized as important cultural heritage.

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