From the sheer amount of true crime content on the web, it is easy to see that there is a fascination with criminals. Just as there are many serial killers in the West, many of Korea’s most infamous killers have left netizens in shock of their crimes.
Here are some of Korea’s most infamous serial killers and how they were caught.
1. “Black Widow” Noh
For almost three years, a woman known only by her surname, Noh was responsible for a string of murders that claimed the lives of several close to her.
Noh killed her first husband in 2011 by using the pesticide Gramoxone (also known as Paraquat) and escaped scrutiny after police ruled his death a suicide. After remarrying in 2012, Noh first killed her new mother-in-law before murdering her husband in 2013.
She was motivated by money, being awarded over $330,000 twice, and poisoning her own daughter for insurance payouts. She was captured in 2015 and sentenced to life in prison.
2. Lee Choon Jae
Lee Choon Jae was responsible for a series of murders referred to as the Hwaseong Serial Murders. Between 1986 and 1991, Lee raped and murdered fourteen women ranging in age from 14 to 71 and sexually assaulted over 45 more.
After his wife left him in 1993, Lee committed the crime that would lead to his first sentencing — the rape and murder of his sister-in-law. He was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 20 years.
The cases remained unsolved for thirty years until DNA evidence linked him to the crimes in 2019. However, the statute of limitation left police unable to charge him with the murders.
3. Jeong Nam Gyu
Born in 1969, Jeon Nam Gyu has stated his crimes took place due to his being molested as a child and being an outcast during his teen years. He killed his first victim in 2004, using knives and blunt weapons during his murder spree.
After murdering and raping two teenage boys, his total count of victims would be thirteen. He was finally captured in 2006 after trying to murder a man and his father resulted in a fight.
He was convicted and sentenced to death but would die by suicide in 2009.
4. Kim Sun Ja
Kim Sun Ja was born in 1939 and was a wife and mother of three. What seemed like an idealistic lifestyle did very little to appease Sun Ja, who was addicted to gambling and visiting cabarets.
Sun Ja began killing in 1986, first poisoning her friend and stealing her jewelry. Her spree would continue until 1988 and claim the lives of five people in total, including multiple family members like her own sister.
She was ultimately captured after killing a cousin who had loaned her ₩434 million KRW (about $320,000 USD). Following an autopsy, it was discovered Sun Ja used cyanide in each of her kills.
Sun Ja was executed in 1997.
5. Yoo Young Chul
Killer Yoo Young Chul murdered twenty people in one year, beginning with a university professor and his wife. His targets, originally the wealthy, switched to women and prostitutes after being rejected by an escort.
Yoo Young Chul’s method was particularly brutal, dismembering victims and even admitting to eating their organs.
While he was sentenced to death, Korea has since abolished the death penalty, commuting his sentence to life. When asked about his crimes, he admitted to feeling sorry for victims but insisted he would kill a hundred more if he was released.