The victimology was at odds, to say the least.
On one hand, the dead were desperate young sex workers. On the other, wealthy old people.
All were victims of South Korea’s Raincoat Killer, the subject of a Netflix docuseries profiling the murders, described by one detective as “spine-chilling.”
In the fall of 2003, the first bodies began turning up in Seoul. Wealthy old people who lived in nice neighborhoods and who been battered to death with a sledgehammer.
Because of the earliest victims’ economic status, cops suspected the murders, and their increasing intensity were connected to Korea’s financial crisis that ravaged the economy.
“The rich got richer and the poor got poorer,” one officer said, adding the era saw an increase in violent crime.
The murders terrorized Seoul between September 2003 to July 2004 until the maniac behind them was arrested on July 15, 2004.
Yoo Young-chul had been in prison before. Rape was his poison, and before he was finished his homicidal rampage, he had murdered at least 20 people, some of whom were dismembered and eaten.
When his relationship with a prostitute went south, Yoo moved on to murdering sex workers. He would call them to his seedy apartment and murder the women there.
“Yoo testified that in order to cleanse his spirit, he ate some of the internal organs from the bodies of four of his victims,” prosecutors said in 2004, adding, “it is difficult to believe Yoo’s statement because serial killers tend to exaggerate.”
Yoo responded: “Women shouldn’t be sluts, and the rich should know what they’ve done.”
Now, the three-part series, The Raincoat Killer: Chasing a Predator in South Korea, takes a closer look at the serial killer, his background, and motivations. The series is told through interviews with investigators who sent Yoo to death row, where he remains unrepentant.
The series reveals that detectives and various law enforcement agencies were initially reluctant to use the chilling words “serial killer” because they feared triggering widespread panic in the South Korean capital.
The third episode tells how detectives closed in on Yoo, and managed to get inside his apartment, which was packed with chilling drawings. In the bathroom, a large amount of blood spatter led them to the horrifying conclusion that many women died inside the room.
His trademark was a yellow raincoat. Yoo killed in it and was arrested in it.
Yoo was convicted of 20 murders in 2004, although some investigators fear his tally of death could be considerably higher.
He is now one of 60 people on death row in the Asian nation. No one has been executed since 1997.