The "Raincoat Killer" Yoo Young-chul brutally murdered at least 20 people in Seoul over an 10-month period between 2003 and 2004, making him South Korea's deadliest serial killer ever.
The dramatic increase in violent murders that occurred throughout 2003 and 2004 baffled the police, this is the story of the Raincoat Killer who is now South Korea's most deadly serial killer.
Yoo Young-chul had a deep resentment for both women and the wealthy, making both a target for his future violent murder spree. He would bring sex workers into his apartment before brutally murdering them in his bathroom and he would sneak into luxury homes owned by the wealthy and violently kill them as well.
His ten-month spree of violence and murder shocked the country and baffled the South Korean police force. His downfall didn't come at the hands of authorities but by the workers inside the massage parlour where he found some of his victims.
Yoo Young-chul was born on April 18, 1970, he grew up poor in Gochang County, a rural part of South Korea, his hatred for the rich came at a very young age.
He was known to be bitter and jealous of a wealthy family that lives nearby whilst he was growing up. In a statement made by the prosecutors at his trial, they said, Yoo’s disappointing “family and economic environment” transformed into “hostility against the rich.”
Throughout most of his young adulthood he was constantly in trouble with the authorities, building up a substantial criminal record.
Yoo was convicted of theft in 1988 and 1991, burglary in 1993, and robbery, forgery, and identity theft in 1998. In 2000, he was convinced of raping a 15-year-old girl and sent to prison.
Whilst serving his time behind bars, Yoo would fantasise over stories about Korean serial killer Jeong Du-yeong, who had targeted wealthy people during his run as a killer, this put the initial idea into the head of Yoo of following in his footsteps.
It would appear that Yoo developed his hatred towards women when his wife, who was a former massage parlour worker herself, left him. Yoo later said, “Women should not be sluts, and the rich should know what they have done.”
Yoo Young-chul was released from prison in September 2003, this was when he started planning his first murder, he bought weapons and disturbingly started practising the art of killing by slaughtering dogs.
It was September 24, 2003, just 13 days after his released from prison that he would strike for the very first time.
As his hero before him, Jeon Du-yeong, Yoo wanted to target and kill wealthy people, so he headed for the upmarket Seoul neighbourhood of Sinsa-dong and quietly snuck into the home of 72-year-old Lee Deok-su, and his 68-year-old wife, Lee Eun-ok.
Before either of his victims could react to him being in their home, Yoo attacked them viciously with a hammer and beat them both to death.
After his first attack, the speed of Yoo's murders picking up dramatically. In October he struck again and killed three member of the same family in Gugi-dong, Jongno-qu.
In November, Yoo killed twice, firstly he attacked the wife of a millionaire in Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, then murdered a rich man was well as his housekeeper in Hyehwa-dong, Jongno-gu.
The police were left baffled, the victims didn't appear to have anything that tied them together, nor had the murderer taken any money or valuables, eliminating the obvious reason as being robbery. Beside some blurry CCTV footage and some footprints the authorities were left with very few clues about the killer himself.
Whilst investigators were looking into the first run of murders, Yoo shifted his focus from the wealthy to a different type of victim, sex workers. He had hated women ever since his wife had left him, he had even considered killing her, but his resentment towards women grew even stronger after his girlfriend also left him.
Yoo's ex-wife had worked in a massage parlour and his girlfriend had worked in a "telephone room," which would frequently turn into prostitution, this caused Yoo to target women that reminded him of them. He started calling sex workers from Seoul massage parlours and booked them to come round to his apartment.
“Mr. Yoo thought that the reason he lived a miserable life was because of the rich,” explained Huh Joon-young, the head of the Seoul Metropolitan Police. “After divorcing his wife who was a masseuse, he shifted targets to women who had the same job.”
Once Yoo got the women inside, he had sex with them before violently bludgeoning to death with a sledgehammer that he had purposely made for himself.
After Yoo had killed his victims, he would use axes, scissors and knives to cut up their bodies, as well as tearing off their fingertips in a bid to make them more difficult to be identified. He then proceeded to packing their mutilated bodies into rubbish bags before burying them on a mountain close to the Bongwon Temple.
By his own admission, Yoo claimed that he even ate parts of his victims as in his own words he said he believed it would “cleanse his spirit.”
Arrest of the "Raincoat Killer"
In the months between May and July 2004, Yoo Young-chul had murdered at least 11 women, but unlike the deaths of his wealthy victims this brought about very little concern and only the owners of the massage parlours picked up on the fact that something was wrong. As the owners of the massage parlours grew more suspicious, Yoo made an error that would be the start of his undoing. He made a phone call to one of the massage parlours using the phone of one of his victims, the owner who immediately recognised the number as that of a missing girl, quickly contacted the police.
The police did send an officer to intercept Yoo, the officer actually left before Yoo even arrived. When the killer walked into the motel where he had arranged to meet his victim, it was the group of massage parlour employees who detained him.
“It’s true that the massage parlour people caught Mr. Yoo first,” an agency official said briskly later. “But isn’t it also true that we sent our man?”
Once the police finally had Yoo in their custody, it certainly didn't go smoothly. Yoo, who believed he was an extremely intelligent person and claimed to have a 140 IQ, faked an epileptic fit and managed to escape for just over twelve hours.
Following on from his second arrest, Yoo confessed to the police all of his crimes, he also said that he would lead them to where he had buried the bodies of his victims. With him wearing a yellow raincoat during his outing to the burial places, the media quickly gave him the name of the "Raincoat Killer."
Yoo later went onto say he was "sorry" for the crimes he had committed, but he also confirmed that he would have continued to kill if he had not been caught.
He even went on to admit to killing random people who were neither wealthy nor sex workers.
In total he confessed to murdering 26 people, and went onto say, “The media keeps saying that I’ve murdered so many people, but to me it was only a mere start,” Yoo said at his first trial in September 2004. “I had no intention of stopping the killing.”
He showed little to no remorse for what he had done or for the distress he had caused for the victims families. In a letter to police, he said that he felt the most fear whilst his son had called him when he was cutting up a body of one of this victims, “The scariest moment was not when a decapitated head fell off from a hanger or when a headless body came running to me,” Yoo said. “It was when my son called to ask if I still have cold.”
In December 2004, Yoo Young-chul was convicted of 20 homicides and sentenced to death. But since South Korea has a “hold” on executions, he’s currently serving time at the Seoul Detention Centre.
The disturbing story of the "Raincoat Killer" has also featured in a 2021, Netflix documentary. Now you have read the story of the Raincoat Killer, make sure you read the horrifying story of Katherine Knight, the Australian Cannibal Killer.