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Man arrested for attempted arson at Changdeokgung

By Kim Hae-yeon

Published : April 9, 2024 - 21:09

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Visitors explore Changdeokgung on March 13. (Yonhap) Visitors explore Changdeokgung on March 13. (Yonhap)

A man in his 50s, suspected of trying to set fire to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed palace Changdeokgung, has been apprehended by law enforcement.

On Tuesday, the Hyehwa Police Station reported it is investigating a man who is believed to have tried to set a fire at Changdeokgung in Jongno-gu, Seoul, on March 23 at approximately 6 p.m. Police are looking into the incident involving the man who purportedly attempted to ignite a fire using a lighter.

According to local authorities, during the late afternoon when access to Changdeokgung was restricted, a man entered through the gate Donhwamun, which is typically used as an exit.

He was then observed smoking and attempting to ignite a door hook device at the hall Daejojeon with a lighter. The management office of the palace intervened and promptly reported the incident to police.

Changdeokgung attained UNESCO World Heritage status in 1997, as the only among the five major palaces from the Joseon era to receive such recognition.

This incident raises concerns, particularly in light of recent vandalism at cultural sites here such as the defacement of a wall of the main palace Gyeongbokgung, designated Historic Site No. 117, with graffiti on two occasions in December last year.

Following the Gyeongbokgung incidents, the Seoul Metropolitan Government instructed each district to conduct thorough inspections of 66 cultural heritage sites within their respective jurisdictions. During the inspections, Jongno-gu authorities discovered graffiti on a portion of the Seoul City Wall, which is also a designated cultural heritage site, near the campus of Sungkyunkwan University.