Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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

Debating Death

Seoul Detention House sign
Seoul Detention House sign

While awaiting his appeal in the Seoul Detention Center, the National Assembly debated the abolition of capital punishment.  Previous attempts to change the law failed in 1999 and 2001.  The pro/con arguments for the death penalty resembled those around the world, and South Korea is no different.  Legislators cited capital punishment's ineffectiveness to deter crime and the lack of humanity shown by the government.  Supporters of the death penalty cited the need to protect the public and that it was a necessary evil.

The South Korean public is divided on the issue.  One survey revealed that two-thirds of the population supports capital punishment.  In another poll, people were surveyed after a television mini-series about a hero facing execution, and the statistics reversed.

On June 9, Yoo heard the final verdict of the Supreme Court.  His death sentence was confirmed.  The prosecution's appeal of the Imoon-dong case was rejected.  Seventeen days later, the National Assembly received an official letter from the Ministry of Justice that criticized the current legislative motions to abolish capital punishment.  Within the letter, there was indirect insinuation of Yoo Young-cheol:  "If brutal murderers are not condemned to capital punishment, then it will go against the public's feeling of justice and victims' grudges, and their feeling of private revenge will increase."

Yoo Young-cheol is on death row with 60 other convicts.

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