Suspect in Blue House bomb threat living in Paris

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Suspect in Blue House bomb threat living in Paris

The son of a former aide to National Assembly Speaker Chung Ui-hwa is alleged to have called in a bomb threat to the Blue House over the weekend, a local news agency reported Monday.

Authorities investigating the case said earlier on Monday that they have found the man believed to have made the phone calls and that he is staying in Paris.

The suspect’s father, who according to the news outlet did not come in to work on Sunday when the threat was made, reportedly flew to France last week to persuade his son to come back to Korea.

The police also said that the place where the phone calls were made matched with the address of a guest house in Paris, which appeared on the suspect’s Twitter account on Jan. 17, when he tweeted that he was going to blow up the personal residences of President Park Geun-hye and Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon.

“If he refuses to return, we are planning to forcibly summon him back to Korea in cooperation with resident police officers in Paris or the International Criminal Police Organization,” said Commissioner Gu Eun-su of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on Monday. “Local police already identified him and finished an initial investigation on him. We plan to charge him with obstruction of justice via threat as soon as he comes back.”

According to the police, the suspect, in his 20s, has no job and traveled to France at the end of last year.

“It was also found that he is currently staying in Paris and had asked for aid from the South Korean Embassy in Paris due to economic difficulties,” Gu said. “It has not been confirmed whether he has a mental illness, and does not have a history of making threats.”’

The man is alleged to have made five phone calls to the Blue House over two-minute intervals from 2:39 a.m. on Sunday. In them, he threatened to blow up the Blue House unless it showed its “willingness” by noon, though he did not provide any further explanation or direction over what he meant.

An explosive ordinance disposal unit from the National Police Agency’s SWAT team was dispatched to the presidential office in central Seoul to search for explosives but discovered none.

Additional military and police forces were assigned to the area surrounding the presidential office throughout the day.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]


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