Photo/IllutrationThe two fox statues at Karasutoge Inarijinja shrine in Izumizaki, Fukushima Prefecture, which were found decapitated on Dec. 10 (Daiki Ishizuka)

SHIRAKAWA, Fukushima Prefecture--A South Korean man has been arrested on suspicion of decapitating two sacred fox statues at a village shrine near here on Dec. 9.

Chon Seung-ho, 35, was arrested Dec. 10 on suspicion of vandalism and trespassing and has admitted wrecking the foxes, according to the Shirakawa Police Station.

Police said they are also not ruling out Chon's possible involvement in damaging an additional 100 or so Buddhist or Shinto statues throughout the prefecture.

The spate of attacks had left statues damaged in Shirakawa, Fukushima, Koriyama and Sukagawa by Dec. 7.

Another nine statues were found smashed in a temple in the village of Izumizaki and a shrine in Shirakawa on Dec. 10.

The two stone fox statues Chon is accused of decapitating each measure about 20 centimeters in height and stood beside steps leading up to the Karasutoge Inarijinja shrine in Izumizaki.

He broke them on the evening of Dec. 9, according to Shirakawa police and other sources.

He is also suspected of wrecking a wooden fox statue of similar size inside the shrine's main hall, as well as the box to place cash offerings that sits outside the structure.

The stone foxes were found with their severed heads placed in front of their bodies, while the wooden one had been thrown outside the main hall and split in half.

Police officers encountered Chon, who is unemployed, while he was walking around Shirakawa carrying a large backpack around noon on Dec. 10. They questioned him as they thought he was acting suspiciously. He was arrested after he admitted vandalizing the statues, police said.

The suspect is believed to have arrived in Japan in November.

The shrine has a history of about 500 years, and the main hall has been designated a cultural property by the village, according to its head priest.

A visitor notified the priest about the vandalism around 8 a.m. on Dec. 10. The locked door on the main hall was found opened and the padlock on the outer hall had been smashed, according to the head priest.

“We thought it was the act of someone of little faith,” he said. “We’re just glad the perpetrator was caught.”