British man detained after climbing to 72nd floor of Seoul skyscraper

He was named in reports as free climber George King-Thompson.

British man detained after climbing to 72nd floor of Seoul skyscraper PA Media

A British man has been detained after climbing more than halfway up the world’s fifth-tallest skyscraper in Seoul with only his bare hands, authorities said.

More than 90 emergency, police and other personnel were dispatched to the 123-storey, 1,820ft Lotte World Tower after the man – named in reports as free climber George King-Thompson – was spotted scaling the building on Monday morning, the fire agency in the South Korean capital said.

The man, in his 20s, reached the 72nd floor, which is about 1,020ft high, before officials took him to a gondola lift and moved him inside the building, the statement said.

The reports said he was carrying a parachute and told police that he wanted to base-jump from the top of the building.

Fire and police authorities did not immediately confirm the man’s name or his motive.

King-Thompson was arrested in 2019 after scaling the Shard in London – the UK’s tallest skyscraper at 1,017ft – after the owners of the building pressed charges against him for trespassing. He was sentenced to six months in prison and served three.

In 2021, he climbed the 36-storey Stratosphere Tower, a residential block in east London’s Stratford area and reached the top in less than half an hour.

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

Police confirmed they took custody of the man.

Lotte Property and Development, which operates the tower, said the man did not suffer any major injuries. The fire agency statement said he suffered a superficial cut on his right knee.

In 2018, French climber Alain Robert, known as “Spiderman” for his daring stunt, was also detained after climbing to the 75th floor of the Lotte World Tower.

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.

Lotte Property and Development said company officials were expected to discuss what to do with the British man.

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