Defaced Gyeongbok Palace walls unveiled after cleanup

Tourists  walk by a gate of Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul, which has been cleaned up after being hit by graffiti twice last month, Thursday. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

Three suspects were apprehended in the following days. If convicted, they could face a minimum three years in prison, in accordance with the Cultural Heritage Protection Act.In a press conference on Thursday, the CHA officials reported that the restoration is “approximately 80 percent complete,” noting that the initial phase of treatment focused primarily on removing “spray contaminants.”For the eight-day operation conducted between Dec. 16 and 28, the expenses for renting specialized equipment such as laser cleaners, steam washers and blasting machines, along with other consumables like protective gear and canisters, totaled over 21 million won. The walls of Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul, which were hit by graffiti twice in December, have been restored to “near completion” and were unveiled to the public, Thursday.

The Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) announced its intention to seek compensation for the costs incurred in restoring the state-designated cultural property from the perpetrators — an amount estimated to be at least 100 million won ($76,300). The agency also revealed strengthened measures to prevent future damage to heritage sites nationwide.Parts of the historic 14th-century palace were vandalized with spray paint on two separate occasions on Dec. 16 and 17. The total damage, which occurred on both sides of Yeongchumun, the palace’s western gate, as well as the wall near the National Palace Museum of Korea, spanned 36.2 meters. When combined with the yet-to-be-determined labor costs for the 234 conservation experts and government workers involved in the project, the estimated total is expected to reach at least 100 million won, according to Go Jung-ju, director of the Gyeongbokgung Palace Management Office.The CHA intends to claim compensation from the suspects once the total restoration cost is determined.Meanwhile, following the December incidents, a state-run survey of four of the major palaces, as well as Jongmyo Shrine and royal tombs from the 1392-1910 Joseon Kingdom revealed numerous other scribbles and engravings left behind over the years on the buildings’ columns and 스포츠토토존 walls.

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