It’s not every day that you wake up to read reports of bombings at bus and rail stations in South Korea, but today was suddenly that day. Yonhap, as well as MBC and the Chosun Ilbo, report that two “homemade” bombs went off just before noon, one at Seoul Station and the other at the Express Bus Terminal down in Kangnam. There were no injuries reported, but the police evacuated the areas and launched a nationwide check of public transportation facilities, including subways and airports.
According to police reports, the bombs were pretty unsophisticated, mainly electrical wire and a small can of butane gas, so were likely the work of a disgruntled whackadoo instead of international terrorists, though police are not ruling out terrorism. The disgruntled nutjob theory has recent precedent, as anyone who remembers the arson that destroyed Namdaemun can attest.
The bombs were put into public lockers early in the morning, according to CCTV footage from Seoul Station that showed a man placing a bag containing the bomb in a public locker at 5:51am. The explosions occurred hours later – at 11:22 in Seoul Station and 11:58 at the bus terminal.
UPDATE (17 May): The disgruntled whackadoo theory proved to be correct, as the police arrested a man on Sunday and charged him with setting the bombs. Motivation? Stock losses. The man had apparently lost money in the market and decided to get back in the black by purchasing futures contracts, then using the bombings to influence the market. Outcome? In an effort to prevent a repeat of the incident, Korean police announced Tuesday that they would “crack down” on websites showing people how to make bombs – the man charged with the crime reportedly learned how to make the bombs through the Internet.