The average arson arrest rate for forest fires over the past five years was 42 percent, according to Korea Forest Service data Monday.
Seven hundred people arrested for arson received criminal penalties, with the highest sentence meted out being a four-year jail term, according to the forest service agency.
A mountainside village in Toseong-myeon, about 5.6 km away from where Korea`s worst wildfire started in Goseong, Gangwon Province, lies in ruins around 16 hours after the town was evacuated. (Kim Arin/The Korea Herald)
On March 31, the KFS arrested the perpetrators of four cases of arson that broke out in Namwon, North Jeolla Province, Gokseong County in South Jeolla Province, Pohang in North Gyeongsang Province and Seongnam in Gyeonggi Province.
Following the recent wildfire outbreak in Gangwon Province on the eastern coast, KFS officials warned that arson charges are put through both criminal and civil proceedings. Under the Forest Protection Act, an arsonist could face a maximum sentence of three years in jail and a fine of up to 30 million won ($26,300), as well as the obligation to make compensation for damages.
“Arsonists are treated with utmost severity as per the Forest Protection Act” while at the same time they are “obliged to compensate for damages,” said Park Do-hwan, head of the forest fire control division at the KFS.
The KFS offers a reward of up to 3 million won for information leading to the capture or arrest of an arsonist.
By Kim Arin (firstname.lastname@example.org