Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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

Criminal Directions

He applied to go to a high school that specialized in the arts, but failed to get in and instead ended up at a technical high school in 1987. During his second year of high school, Yoo stole a guitar and a Sony cassette player from a neighbor's house.  It was his first crime and he was put in juvenile detention center.  He never graduated from the technical high school.

In 1991, Yoo stole over $500 of cash and a camera and spent ten months in jail.  In 1993, he happened to find a car with the keys in the ignition.  He stole it and got an eight-month sentence.  In 1998, he forged some official documents and impersonated government officials.  He was arrested. 

On Christmas 1991, he met Ms. Hwang, a masseuse.  She was the woman he would marry.  It was the happiest time of his life, but it didn't last long.  His landlord raised his rent and in order to make up the difference, he broke into an office and tried to steal a camera and some cash but was caught by a security guard.  When his mother visited him in jail, he asked her to take care of his new wife and son.  He dreamed that when he got out he could build a house for his family and spend time with his boy.

Book cover: Murder Addiction
Book cover: Murder Addiction

There are many references to Yoo having epilepsy to some extent. From 1993 to 1995, he received treatment as a day patient at the National Mental Hospital in the Joong Gok neighborhood of Seoul.  There is speculation that the blackouts he experienced while playing sports as a youth could have been epileptic seizures.  Lee Eun-young, author of "Murder Addiction," a book about Yoo Young-cheol, has speculated that he has manic depressive disorder. His second brother was a manic depressive, and in 1994, he got drunk and committed suicide at the age of 32. During his killing spree, Yoo was 33 years old and felt that his end might be near — that his fate was to die at a young age like his father and brother — and it heightened his impetus to kill more people.


In March of 2000, he was arrested for raping a 15-year old girl, and that was enough for his wife.  She could overlook the thievery because it paid the bills, but this was unforgivable.  She divorced him in 2002 as he served his sentence in the Jeonju Detention Center and also included that he be barred from any visitation rights to his son.  By this time, Yoo had fourteen criminal convictions for a total of eleven years in prison.  His crimes ranged from fraud, theft, battery and sexual assault.  When he got out of prison on September 11, 2002, he visited his mother living in the old Gongdeok neighborhood in Mapo and he was looking for a place to call his own.

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