British thrill-seeker fails in attempt to base jump off Seoul's tallest tower

By Park Sae-jin Posted : June 12, 2023, 17:19 Updated : June 12, 2023, 17:19

[Courtesy of Songpa District Fire Station]

SEOUL -- A British thrill-seeker named George King-Thompson has failed in an attempt to base jump off the 123-story building Lotte Tower, the tallest tower in South Korea which is 555 meters (1,820 feet) tall. Over the past years, many urban stunt teams including King-Thompson have tried to climb the iconic tower but only one Russian thrill-seeking team has succeeded to reach the top without getting caught by authorities.
Lotte Tower in southern Seoul was built in 2016 after six years of construction. The mega-structure that hulks over South Korea's capital city attracted many thrill-seekers from all over the world since the building opened as a multi-purpose building that has a living block, cinema, department store, aquarium, and other commercial blocks for shopping and dining. Base jumping is similar to skydiving but jumpers throw themselves off a fixed building or a structure like a building or a cliff wall instead of jumping out of a flying aircraft.
According to police on June 12, King-Thompson started to climb Lotte Tower with his bare hands at about 5:00 a.m. (2000 GMT). A security guard found the 24-year-old British climber at about 7:50 a.m. and reported to the police and firefighters that "a foreigner is climbing the outer wall of Lotte Tower wearing only underwear." Policemen and rescuers arrived at the base of the tower at about 8:00 a.m. to set up safety air mattresses while King-Thompson continued his ascent.
The police said the thrill-seeking climber was climbing the tower with no equipment but a parachute on his back. King-Thompson reached the 72nd floor by 8:42 a.m., about 10 minutes before firefighters and building management team personnel descended down from the top of the building using a building management utility, gondola-like equipment, to pick him up and send him into the building through a ventilation shaft on the 73rd floor, where policemen were waiting.
The police said the height which King-Thompson reached was 309 meters and showed symptoms of exhaustion after he was caught but recovered soon. He was booked for trespassing, the police said.
During an investigation, King-Thompson said that it was his dream to climb and fly off Lotte Tower and prepared his stunt for six months. He told the police that he entered South Korea three days ago and slept at a motel for a night and slept on the streets for two nights.
In 2018, Alain Robert, known as "Spider-Man" tried to conquer Seoul's iconic tower, but was stopped by authorities when he reached the 75th floor. So far, Vitaliy Raskalov, a Russian photographer who is also well-known for his thrill-seeking stunts, is the only one who made it to the top of the tower without being caught.
Lotte officials tried to stop Raskalov and his "Urban Explorer" team when they entered South Korea in 2016 before the tower officially opened. The Russian photographer uploaded pictures of his stunt team standing on the top of the Lotte Tower onto his social media in March 2016. 
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