Minors accounted for more than half of the suspects apprehended for posting online threats of copycat crimes in the wake of recent back-to-back deadly stabbing rampages, police said Monday.
Since July 21, when a 33-year-old man wielding a knife killed one person and injured three others near a subway station in Seoul, 194 posts containing murder threats had been identified as of 6 p.m. Monday, according to the National Office of Investigation.
The police have apprehended 65 people responsible and formally arrested three of them.
Out of the 65 suspects, 34 were teenagers, including children under the age of 14 who are not subject to criminal prosecution.
Threatening messages have surged since Thursday, when a man in his 20s drove a car into people on a sidewalk and attacked others with a knife at a department store in Seongnam, south of Seoul, leaving one person dead and 13 wounded.
On Sunday, a teenager was taken into custody in Incheon, 27 kilometers west of Seoul, after posting a message on Instagram that warned of a mass stabbing at a subway station.
On Saturday, another teenager was apprehended for posting about carrying out a knife attack at a train station in the northeastern city of Wonju and then reporting it to authorities as if he had discovered it.
The police have requested cooperation from the education ministry and other relevant agencies in preventing children from getting involved in such crimes.
The police have intensified security since Thursday's incident, deploying more than 12,000 officers to patrol densely populated areas across the country.
Between Friday and Sunday, the police conducted stops and searches on 442 suspicious people. Of them, 14 people, most of whom were found to be in possession of weapons or illegal drugs, were booked for investigation.
In related developments, an arrest warrant was issued for a 30-something man who had threatened to hurt random people at a subway station in central Seoul. Another man in his 40s who threatened to kill women in Incheon, west of Seoul, was also arrested by police.
Source: Yonhap News Agency