The two teenage suspects in the Gyeongbukgung Palace vandalization case have claimed that they were paid to do the job.
On December 16, the Jongno Police Station received a report about the cultural heritage site being defiled with graffiti spray painted all over its walls. The incident sparked a public outrage, and the police began to investigate the incident.
Meanwhile, more than 20 experts from the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage were conducting laser and chemical cleaning and restoration work to remove the graffiti. According to KBS News, the entire removal process was estimated to take a week.
However, in the middle of the restoration work, the palace walls were vandalized a second time, and the act was caught on security cameras. The second graffiti was sprayed right next to the first one, covered with tarps.
Initially, a 20-year-old (identified as A) turned himself in voluntarily for the crime and underwent questioning. It was presumed that A was the one who imitated the “graffiti terror” crime but wasn’t the one behind the first graffiti. The police believed that the first one was done by two people, a man and a woman.
Their suspicion turned out to be accurate, as on December 20, the Jongno Police Station reported that they were investigating two teenage suspects, Lim (male, age 17) and Kim (female, age 16), for the vandalization.
During their interrogation, both suspects disclosed that an anonymous person commissioned them online to spray paint the graffiti for a sum of ₩100,000 KRW (about $76.70 USD). Lim received the money in two payments of ₩50,000 KRW (about $38.40 USD).
The police previously analyzed the CCTV footage and traced the suspects’ escape routes to locate them. Lim was arrested around 7:08 pm on December 19, while Kim was detained around 7:25 pm on the same day. Currently, the authorities are investigating the specific motive and the circumstances of the crime, as well as probing into the possibility of more accomplices and the alleged mastermind.