Yoo Young-chul was all over the headlines in South Korea from 2003-2004 as he went on a killing spree, taking the lives of at least 20 people. His targets mainly included wealthy people, and sex workers in Seoul whom he would call at his residence and bludgeon them to death after having sex with them, reports said. Childhood poverty was one of the reasons that drove him to kill wealthy people with his initial targets being a professor couple. Later, after his divorce with a masseuse drove him to kill prostitutes and sex workers.
Nicknamed the ‘Raincoat Killer’, Young-chul was sentenced to death on December 13, 2004, although the country has not carried out the same since 1997.
Yoo Young-chul’s crime story was the main plot of the 2008 movie ‘The Chaser’ directed by Na Hong-jin. Emraan Hashmi starrer 2011 movie ‘Murder 2’ was said to be inspired from The Chaser, however, the claim was vehemently denied by producer Mukesh Bhatt. In 2021, Netflix adapted Young-chul’s story into a three-episode documentary titled ‘The Raincoat Killer: Chasing a Predator in Korea’.
Young-Chul’s Killing Spree
From September to November 2003, the raincoat killer went on to kill wealthy senior citizens by bludgeoning them with a hammer. To confuse the investigators, he would make the crime scene look like a case of robbery homicide. He would also not take any money from his victims which would further confuse the investigators, as per a Korea JoongAng Daily report.
However, the first subjects of his experiment were stray dogs.
His first victims were Lee Deok-su (72) and Lee Eun-ok (68), both university professors who were hammered to death. Following this, he went on to kill three others. All his victims were from affluent families, reported Korea Herald.
As the probe intensified, Young-chul changed his targets and started killing prostitutes whom he would call to his home, and have sex with before bludgeoning them to death. He would mutilate and cut up the corpse to hide their identity.
He then started dating a massage parlour worker, but the relationship did not work out, and the two parted ways. After this, he started calling sex workers to his apartment, where he would have sex with them and then later kill them.
Young-chul also claimed he ate the internal organs of his victims to “cleanse his soul”, however, the investigators could not verify this claim, as per Chosun Ilbo.
Bodies of 11 such victims were recovered by the police, and buried under a mountain temple in Seoul after his arrest.
During the initial interrogation, Young-chul confessed that he killed 19 people.
Young-chul’s Mistake Which Leads To His Arrest
But his killing spree came to an end with one mistake and the quick thinking of one massage parlour employee. Once when he called up a massage parlour from where workers had been missing, one of the employees recognised the number and informed the police.
Upon being informed, a police officer along with a massage parlour worker reached Young-chul at a motel. The employee was able to detain Young-chul who was then arrested before he confessed to all his crimes, Korea JoongAng Daily reported.
Wearing a yellow raincoat, Young-chul lead the police to the spot where he buried his victims, giving him the nickname of the “raincoat killer”.
Arrest And Trial
On July 15, 2004, Young-chul was taken into custody after confessing to having murdered 19 people. The trial started on September 6, 2004, when he first appeared in court. He refused to defend himself and declared his intention to boycott the rest of the trial. He also boasted that he had no intention to put a check on his killing spree, reported Chosun Ilbo.
He would try to disrupt his trial but was forced to appear for his next hearing where he lunged at the three presiding judges and recanted his confession for a murder he carried out in February 2004.
He again refused to appear for the next court session on October 4, 2004, after attempting to die by suicide the night before. Yoo again disrupted a hearing three weeks later when he tried to attack a spectator who had cursed him, which ended with Yoo signing a statement that he would not cause further commotion.
During the trial, the prosecutors requested the death penalty for Young-chul, for which he thanked the prosecutors.
“I am thankful for the prosecutors’ request for the death penalty. I will be repenting of what I have done until I die,” he said as per the Korea JoongAng Daily report.
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