Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Yoo Young-cheol, South Korea's Brutal Serial Killer

Free Once Again

Released from prison in September 2003, the first priority of Yoo Young-cheol as a free man was to round up stray dogs and club them to death.  Such practice would make his killing perfect.

Prison changes people.  Some for the best—the illiterate become readers of books, the sinner gains spirituality, or the person without direction finds a calling.  For others, prison changes them for the worst.  The environment becomes a breeding ground for racism, a finishing school for thieves, or a galvanizing experience that hardens the convict into a permanent outsider even when freedom is finally tasted.

Yoo Young-cheol was a changed man when he was released from the Jeonju Detention Center.  The prison experience was nothing new, since he spent most of his adult life in the South Korean correctional system.  He entered prison as a married man and left as a single man.  His wife divorced him in May of 2002.  That was one factor that is attributed to shifting his criminal mindset. 

While serving time for robbery and rape, Yoo studied the life and crimes of Jeong Du-young, another serial killer who murdered nine wealthy victims in Busan, Ulsan and other cities in the Gyeongnam Province from June 1999 to April 2000.  The murders committed by Jeong were simply part of his daytime robberies.  At the time of his capture, he was quoted as saying he had an urge to rob houses that were equipped with security cameras.  He later said, "I may have the devil inside me." He targeted wealthy residences, and if a person was home, they would be stabbed to death.  There would be no witnesses. 

Map of S. Korea with South Gyeongsang locator
Map of S. Korea with South Gyeongsang

During his spree of robberies and murders, Jeong held a woman for ransom, robbed thirteen homes, and killed nine people. Some of them were elderly victims.  He amassed approximately $100,000 from his break-ins.  Jeong Du-young was 31 years old when he began his ten-month killing spree, and he started it as soon as he was released from prison.  Following the story of Jeong, Yoo felt the wealthy were the causes of all that is wrong with Korean society and were the people to blame for his life's misery.  He would beat them like dogs. He planned to kill over a hundred people.

Police investigations of the serial killings of Yoo Young-cheol would later reveal that he was a methodical man.  His forethought was extraordinary and his attention to detail was superb.  The physical act of bludgeoning a human was no exception.  He needed to practice up for such violence. 

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