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Leader behind Gyeongbokgung graffiti attack also targeted subways: police

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Dec. 27, 2023 - 17:40

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This Dec. 20 photo shows a snow-covered Gyeongbokgung in Jongno-gu, central Seoul. (Yonhap) This Dec. 20 photo shows a snow-covered Gyeongbokgung in Jongno-gu, central Seoul. (Yonhap)

A person who paid two teenagers to vandalize the walls of Gyeongbokgung had also ordered another teen to graffiti subway stations in Daegu, a police investigation found Wednesday.

The individual identified as "team leader Lee," thought to have paid a 17-year-old male surnamed Im and 16-year-old female to graffiti the palace walls with the web addresses to illegal video streaming platforms, is also believed to have contacted another teen in Daegu on Dec. 18 for a similar request.

Lee told the teen that any station in Daegu would do, and assured that they would not get caught if they wore a mask and a hat. The teen refused to comply.

The cyber investigative unit of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency has been tracking Lee based on information provided by Im. He said a person called team leader Lee promised to pay him 3 million won ($2,300) if they wrote promotional messages for an illegal movie website on the Joseon-era palace. He paid them 100,000 won in advance.

Lee contacted the three teens via an open chat room on the Telegram app. Lee claimed to be the owner of the illegal website the teens were told to promote.

Graffiti was sprayed on the walls of Gyeongbokgung around 1:50 a.m. on Dec. 16, spanning some 44 meters. The duo also wrote similar messages on the walls of the Seoul police agency headquarters near Gyeongbokgung.

Both venues are in Jongno-gu, central Seoul.

In a separate incident, another man surnamed Seol in his 20s vandalized the Gyeongbokgung walls on Dec. 17, writing promotional messages for a local singer and the singer's album.

All three suspects have been apprehended by police and are currently being investigated.