S. Korea partially restores vandalized Seoul palace walls using laser and chemicals

By Park Sae-jin Posted : January 4, 2024, 17:17 Updated : January 4, 2024, 17:17

SEOUL -- South Korea's Cultural Heritage Administration, operated by the culture ministry, has partially restored the walls of the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main palace of the Joseon dynasty that ruled the Korean peninsula from 1392 to 1897, located in the central Seoul area.

Gyeongbokgung is an iconic palace in Seoul that was visited by some 3.4 million people in 2022. The area near the Blue House, the former presidential office, remains a high-security area with a score of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. Platoons of policemen patrol the area regularly and any suspicious persons will be stopped and questioned by law authorities.

The walls of the palace were first vandalized by a team consisting of a man and a woman on December 16. The vandals damaged the walls using spray paint cans. Another case by a copycat vandal took place the next day. The man-woman team was caught through a manhunt while the copycat turned himself in to the police.

The Cultural Heritage Administration said on January 4 that a special restoration team used chemicals and lase tools to remove spray paints from the Gyeongbokgung palace walls. It took 19 days since the first vandal case to restore the walls. Screens that covered damaged areas were also removed.

The culture ministry's cultural heritage-governing body said that the restoration process was carried out delicately, just like "removing plaque off teeth," by deploying 30 restoration specialists every day. According to the Cultural Heritage Administration, the restoration is about 80 percent finished and the final process will be completed in April when the weather is warmer.
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