Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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

Drama of the Doomed: Part 1

"I sent them away in peace."

Yoo Young-cheol to the families of the victims

Korean law doesn't allow for crime suspects to boycott their court hearings.  Yoo was brought back to appear at the Seoul District Court on September 20.  "I don't want to attend the trial anymore," he said, and expressed his distrust towards the police, prosecutors and judges.  One of the three judges admonished Yoo, saying, "It is not up to you to decide whether you attend the trial or not."

During the hearing, Yoo revealed that he murdered five more people that included an adolescent and a pregnant woman.  He also said he previously fabricated a story.  According to him, the police promised to protect his son until university age, "so I lied to them about also killing a woman in Imoon-dong, which I didn't do."

As the court was about to adjourn, Yoo leaped over the railing bar and sprang towards the judges, yelling that he wasn't going to attend the next hearing. The judges scrambled out of their chairs, and just as Yoo reached the desk, he slipped and was bum-rushed by twenty guards, then handcuffed and dragged from the courtroom.

Yoo passed on two notes to a reporter and a prison guard.  In them, he wrote that he felt sorry for the victim's families and he repented for his murders.  There were hints about ending his life.  Prison authorities tightened the 24-hour watch on Yoo's cell.   On Sunday, October 3, using electrical wire removed from a wall-mounted fan, Yoo tried to strangle himself around midnight Monday morning.  The suicide attempt was stopped immediately.

Yoo's previous vows to not appear in court again were partly realized.  Scheduled for a two o'clock court appearance on October 4, he passed a note to a prison guard to be submitted to the Seoul Central District Court.  He wrote that he had nothing more to say and that he refused to attend. This left authorities a bit perplexed.  Korean criminal code allows for the court to try and convict a person in absentia, but rather than push the issue over Yoo's temper tantrum in the largest criminal case of the year, they postponed the trial until the following week on October 11.

As the numerous court proceedings progressed, Yoo exploded again in a courtroom rage.  On October 25, a person in the audience swore at him as he entered the courtroom.  Yoo snapped and lunged for the spectator, and ten guards plowed into the brawl.  The only things damaged were Yoo's ego, a shaken courtroom and two smashed wooden chairs.  Yoo was taken out of the courtroom to let the atmosphere settle, but before he was allowed to return, he was forced to sign a written statement, "I will not cause any further agitation."  As if an experienced and condemned killer could care about such a childish promise.  Back in the courtroom, Yoo stared at the families of the victims and said, "They were abnormal women. They deserved to be caught."

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