After a car rampage and two stabbings in and around the South Korean capital that shocked the nation in the past month, at least seven people have been arrested on suspicion of making threats to carry out similar acts, the police said on Saturday.
Many of the arrests came days after 14 people were injured in an episode in Seongnam, a city southeast of Seoul, that the authorities said was being treated as an “act of terror.” The assailant in that case drove a car onto a sidewalk near a subway station, injuring five people, then went into the station and stabbed a further nine.
Another stabbing attack in Seoul on July 21 left one person dead and three others injured. The latest arrests in connection with the murder threats are part of police efforts to restore the public’s sense of security.
The threats, specifying times and locations for stabbing attacks at other subway stations around Seoul, were shared widely on social media and spread fear, the police say.
Five of the arrests were made in Seoul, said Yoon Young-joon, the head of a cybercrime unit at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. As is customary, the police did not identify the suspects.
The threats were posted on various sites online between July 24 and Saturday morning, the police said, and mentioned plans to kill people at several different subway stations and, in one case, at an amusement park south of Seoul. The arrests took place in widely scattered parts of Seoul, including in Gangnam, in the eastern district of Seongdong and in the southern district of Gwanak, as well as in the city’s suburbs.
The police were able to find the suspects through tips from callers, or by tracking the posters by their internet protocol addresses. Some people turned themselves in, and others were apprehended at the subway stations where they said the attacks would take place.
Among those arrested was a 14-year-old boy in the Seoul suburb of Hanam, the police in southern Gyeonggi, the province that surrounds Seoul, said in a statement on Saturday.
The teenager posted on social media that he would kill people outside a subway station the next day, the police said. After receiving an emergency call and identifying the poster, the police arrested him while he was walking around the subway station on Friday.
He told the police that he had no intention of killing anyone but “was just bored and posted it as a joke,” according to the statement, which went on to warn others: “If you post something like this, even if for fun, you will be arrested and punished. We will promptly and strictly investigate murder threats that cause public anxiety.”