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The Korean Man Who Ate 26 People

The Raincoat Killer

By Ash MartinPublished 9 months ago 14 min read

This is the chilling story of Yoo Young-Chul, one of South Korea's most infamous serial killers. Between 2003 and 2004, he struck fear into the hearts of an entire city, captivated the national press hungry for answers, and left the police struggling to acknowledge the existence of a serial killer among them. His weapon of choice was a homemade hammer, with which he embarked on a blood-soaked reign of terror, terrorizing the nation until justice caught up with him in a case full of shocking twists and turns.

But Yoo Young-Chul's descent into becoming a cold-hearted killer didn't happen overnight. Prior to his reign of terror, he had already earned a disturbing rap sheet and a history of spending time in prison. Now, let's delve into the unhinged world of this Korean man, also known as the raincoat killer, who gruesomely devoured the lives of 26 people.

In 2004, a massage parlor owner in Seoul noticed a disturbing pattern among some of the girls working for him—they were mysteriously disappearing. Being working girls, their absence went unnoticed by family and friends, and their isolated lives made them vulnerable targets. The alarm was raised when the massage parlor owner received an unexpected call from a man seeking the services of one of the missing girls. What made this call alarming was that it came from the phone of one of the girls who had vanished.

Taking swift action, the police set up an operation to deceive the caller into meeting a girl who was part of their trap. Falling straight into their cunning plan, the caller was apprehended, and the truth began to unravel. The man responsible for these horrific crimes was none other than Yoo Young-Chul, the raincoat killer. His reign of terror had finally come to an end, leaving a nation in shock and disbelief at the grisly nature of his crimes.

Upon arriving at the location, Yoo Young-Chul was promptly taken into custody. Initially believed to be a kidnapping and human trafficking case, it quickly unfolded into one of the most horrifying killing sprees in history. Astonishingly, during police questioning, Yoo Young-Chul confessed to taking the lives of over 20 people, most of whom were either prostitutes or elderly and wealthy victims. He even guided the authorities to the burial sites where he had hidden the bodies. The question that arises is what could lead someone to commit such atrocious acts against others? To understand this, we need to delve into Yoo Young-Chul's upbringing, which was marred by tragedy and hardship, ultimately setting him on a path of murder.

Born into poverty in 1970 in Gochang, Yoo Young-Chul had a difficult childhood, enduring mockery from other children due to his family's lower-class status. It is believed that his resentment towards those who were better off financially was born out of his own social status and struggles from an early age. His life took a darker turn when his mother abandoned him and his siblings, leaving them with their grandmother, never to return. Eventually, his father took charge of the children and remarried, but their stepmother proved to be violent, adding to their hardships.

The family endured further tragedy when Yoo Young-Chul's father tragically passed away in a traffic accident in 1985, leaving them devastated. With the loss of his father, Yoo Young-Chul's life took a significant downturn, leading him down a dangerous path.

In an attempt to escape poverty, Yoo Young-Chul set out to work hard and succeed in life. He aspired to attend art school, but his dreams suffered a significant blow when he was rejected by the school in 1988. Frustrated, he settled for a technical school that accepted him with his qualifications. However, rather than applying himself to his studies, he chose a faster way to make money by engaging in a life of crime.

Yoo's criminal endeavors didn't prove very successful, as at the age of just 18, he was caught stealing from a wealthy neighbor. This led to his sentencing to a juvenile detention center, and he could no longer attend the technical school. Consequently, he flunked his classes and failed the course. Despite this setback, his criminal activities escalated, and he began stealing more valuable items, including cash and cars. Again, he was apprehended in 1991 after stealing from his own landlord, resulting in another prison term of 10 months.

Even after facing multiple convictions, his girlfriend, who worked as a masseuse, decided to become his wife, and they had a son together. However, Yoo Young-Chul couldn't stay away from a life of crime and resumed stealing after his release from prison. He was once more caught stealing a car, leading to an additional eight months behind bars. During this period, he was diagnosed with epilepsy, which would later become something he used to his advantage.

While Yoo's criminal record was mostly composed of theft and non-violent crimes, his actions would take a dark and twisted turn later on.

After being arrested for selling illegal pornography, Yoo Young-Chul was sentenced to two years in prison. However, upon his release, he immediately reoffended and was sent back to prison for another three years. Throughout this time, his wife stood by his side, raising their son, while he continued to engage in criminal activities, getting caught by the police repeatedly. However, she reached her breaking point in the year 2000 when he was found guilty of assaulting a 15-year-old girl, leading to another three and a half years of imprisonment. She filed for divorce while he was still inside, citing abuse and alcohol-related problems.

Upon his release in 2003, Yoo Young-Chul began a new path of depravity that would terrify the city and shock the world. During his time in prison, he developed admiration for a killer named Zhongdu Young, who had taken the lives of nine people between 1999 and 2000. This admiration, coupled with his growing hatred for the wealthy and women, fueled dark and dangerous thoughts in his mind.

After his divorce, Yoo had access to his son during visitations, but instead of carrying out his revenge on his ex-wife and child, he focused on his next targets: wealthy individuals. He saw them as the root of his problems and believed they deserved punishment. His mind was filled with sinister intentions, and he planned to take their lives during the visitations.

Ultimately, he didn't act upon his vengeance towards his family, but he didn't hesitate when he found his next target—the wealthy. His actions would soon escalate to horrifying levels, leaving the city gripped with fear and shock waves spreading worldwide.

In preparation for his killing spree, Yoo Young-Chul practiced with his self-made weapon—a custom hammer with a shortened handle and a customized grip, along with a knife and gloves. To test his weapon, he began cruelly killing stray dogs in secluded woodlands, displaying a remorseless and frenzied attack, a pattern often seen in serial killers who start with animals before targeting humans.

After less than two weeks of being a free man, Yoo acted on his plan. On September 24, 2003, he targeted the wealthy region of Sin Sadong. His first victims were an elderly retired professor named Lee Yoksu and his wife, Yon Oak. Without warning, Yool burst into their home at around 10 a.m., stabbing Mr. Lee in the neck and bludgeoning his wife with the hammer. He then returned to Mr. Lee to finish him off. After the brutal act, he cleaned up and left, but not without leaving behind his knife. In an attempt to make it look like a robbery gone wrong, he trashed the house, but he didn't actually steal anything, which raised suspicions for the police. Shoe prints found at the scene would become crucial evidence in the investigation.

Yoo struck again on October 9, 2003, in Guji Dong, following the same pattern. This time, he broke into the house of another wealthy household around mid-morning. After encountering an 85-year-old woman named Mo Kang, he committed a depraved act before being interrupted by the homeowner's wife.

In another horrifying act, Yoo Young-Chul forced the homeowner's wife in Guji Dong to bow her head, seemingly preparing for an execution. When she refused and mentioned her husband and son being home, Yoo unleashed his rage and killed her. He then targeted her disabled son, making him kneel down and brutally attacking him with a hammer until he died. Fortunately, the husband was not actually home at the time, though he later discovered the tragic scene of his wife and son's murder.

The police now had footprints from multiple crime scenes and began searching their database for potential leads. Yoo, however, was far from done. He continued his killing spree, moving to Samsung Dong, where he attacked a 69-year-old woman in her house, beating her in a bathroom. Despite being found alive by her son, she tragically succumbed to her injuries.

As the media noticed the pattern and similarities between the murders, they began questioning the possibility of a serial killer being responsible. However, the police denied any links between the cases to avoid causing panic in the public. Nonetheless, it became increasingly evident that the murders were connected due to the footprints and the nature of the crimes.

On November 18, 2003, Yoo struck again, this time in Dong Province, targeting a house where he encountered a housekeeper. Armed with a knife, he continued his reign of terror.

The housekeeper was forced to lead Yoo Young-Chul to the master bedroom, where Kim Jong-suk, the 87-year-old homeowner, was. However, they were confronted with an unexpected problem - the homeowner's one-year-old son was also in the room. Yoo attacked Kim with his hammer, and in the chaos, the housekeeper grabbed the baby and attempted to escape. Yoo, surprisingly, spared the baby and wrapped him in a blanket before leaving him unharmed in another room so that his cries could be heard by the neighbors.

After this, Yoo returned to the bedroom and brutally attacked the housekeeper, leading to her tragic death. Realizing that he left his DNA at the crime scene while trashing the property to stage a botched robbery, Yoo had to cover up his tracks.

To hide the evidence of his blood, he set fire to the house, leaving the baby inside, and watched from a safe distance as the house burned. Thankfully, the baby was later discovered alive by a family member, though the blaze had destroyed the bodies and the master bedroom.

The police managed to obtain footage from the home's security cameras, showing Yoo wearing a sweater he found inside the house to conceal the blood on his clothes. This provided investigators with crucial evidence, including another set of shoe prints linked to other crime scenes.

Surprisingly, Yoo stopped targeting the older wealthy residents of the city, deviating from his familiar pattern. He then turned his attention to the red-light district, where he extorted money from escorts while wearing a police officer's uniform. He proved to be adept at this illegal profession and eventually earned enough money to move into an apartment, where he continued his reckless and indulgent lifestyle.

Yoo's deep-seated hatred for the wealthy remained a trigger for his actions, and he was determined to find his next victim.

After a brief pause in his killing streak, Yoo Young-Chul's hatred for women escalated when he began dating an escort and proposed to her. However, she discovered his previous marriage and shady past, which led her to break off the relationship. This rejection seemed to be the tipping point for Yoo, and he sought revenge.

On March 16, 2004, he resumed his murderous actions by posing as a police officer and luring an escort to his apartment. He brutally killed her, kicking her head and hanging it up to drain her blood. To dispose of the body, he dismembered it and buried the remains in grocery bags behind a university, marking the spot with a bottle cap to avoid using it again for future victims.

Breaking from his pattern of targeting wealthy individuals and escorts, Yoo's next victim was a street vendor named An Je-sun. After arresting him on fake charges and taking him to a secluded spot, Yoo stabbed him in the head and neck, and when Je-sun fought back, Yoo bludgeoned him to death with his hammer. To eliminate evidence, he burned the vendor's van and left no traces.

Yool then focused on the escorts in the red-light district, launching a short but shocking killing spree. He called escorts to his apartment one by one, brutally killing them, and burying their bodies, marking each spot with a bottle cap to avoid revisiting the same location.

He continued this pattern with his next nine murders until one massage parlor owner noticed the alarming disappearances. Yoo Young-Chul's reign of terror had many families grieving for their loved ones, all taken by an unremorseful psychopath.

Yoo Young-Chul's lack of meticulous planning had led to many of the mistakes he made in the past, and eventually, it would be his downfall. As the list of missing escorts grew, the owner of several massage parlors noticed something was wrong when one of the girls went missing after leaving to see a client. Suspicion intensified when the same phone number was linked to two different missing girls, and the phone used belonged to one of the victims.

The police devised a plan to capture the culprit by setting up a meeting with an escort and using a tall girl to throw Yoo off guard. However, he canceled the appointment at the last minute, suspecting something was amiss. Nonetheless, the police eventually found the ideal girl to play the part, and Yoo fell right into their trap.

Upon his arrest, Yoo was found with calling cards of several escorts and the phone that matched the one the police were looking for. In the interrogation room, Yoo shocked the detectives by confessing not only to kidnapping but also to committing multiple murders. He claimed responsibility for over 20 killings, starting in the wealthy community of Sin Sadong and ending with the murder of an escort just days before his arrest. The police were initially skeptical of his confession but soon realized the horrifying truth of his actions.

It is unclear whether Yoo fully planned his next move, but he used his epilepsy to his advantage, faking a seizure during custody. Taking advantage of the officers' belief that he was incapacitated, he was able to escape when they released him from his handcuffs and left the door open. However, his escape was short-lived, as he was spotted by a police officer and recaptured just 12 hours later.

Despite changing his story multiple times during questioning, Yoo did admit to some gruesome acts, claiming to have eaten the organs of several of his victims. While this was never conclusively proven, some victims were found to be missing organs, lending some credibility to his disturbing claims. As the police took him to the locations where he had hidden the bodies, he was disguised with a large yellow raincoat, earning him the nickname "the raincoat killer," which gained international attention.

During his trial, Yoo exhibited violent behavior, attempting to attack the judge and a spectator, and even attempting suicide while in custody. He showed no remorse towards the families of his victims. Eventually, he was found guilty and sentenced to death. He currently sits on death row, as capital punishment in South Korea has not been carried out since 1997. Before this case, the public sentiment was moving towards abolishing capital punishment.

The series of grisly murders committed by Yoo Young-Chul and his complete disregard for human life outraged the country. Despite the ongoing debate about capital punishment in South Korea and the likelihood of execution being carried out, this case sent shock waves throughout the nation. It is considered one of the most disorganized and heinous series of murders in the country's history.

Regardless of the execution's possibility, we can find some solace in knowing that Yoo Young-Chul will spend the remainder of his natural life confined to a prison cell.


About the Creator

Ash Martin

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