British man detained in Seoul after climbing 73 floors of skyscraper

Lotte World Tower is the world's fifth tallest building and South Korea's tallest

A British man seen climbing Lotte World Tower, the tallest skyscraper in the South Korea. Photo: Seoul Metropolitan Fire and Disaster Management Headquarters/AP
Powered by automated translation

South Korean police detained a British man in the capital Seoul on Monday after he scaled 73 floors of the country's tallest building with his bare hands.

Korean media identified the man as free climber George King-Thompson, who was imprisoned for three months after scaling London's Shard in 2019.

More than 90 police, fire and emergency personnel were sent to Lotte World Tower after he was spotted climbing the building on Monday morning, according to a statement from Seoul's fire department.

He reached the 73rd floor of the building with no equipment before being removed by a gondola lift, it said.

Local media said he was spotted scaling the building with only climbing chalk at 7.20am local time, and that he continued his climbing attempt after the arrival of firefighters at 8am. Footage posted from inside a bedroom in the building showed him as he scaled the structure.

He was arrested on charges of trespassing and obstruction of business, The Korea Herald reported. It added that he was planning to parachute from the top of the building.

The tower, the tallest in South Korea, is home to apartments, offices and various retail stores.

Lotte Property & Development, which operates the tower, said the man didn’t suffer any major injuries.

The fire agency statement said he suffered a cut on his right knee.

Mr King-Thompson also climbed London's 36-story Stratosphere Tower in 2021, reaching the top in less than half an hour.

He said he picked the Seoul building because he was shocked by the flash floods that recently hit the area and wanted to raise awareness about the seriousness of climate change.

He is not the first person to scale the Lotte World Tower.

In 2018, French climber Alain Robert, known as “Spider-Man”, was also detained after climbing to the 75th floor.

Lotte officials said they heard he was eventually released and left South Korea after they told police they did not want to press charges for obstruction or trespassing.

AFP contributed to this report

Updated: June 12, 2023, 4:20 PM