Across the globe, depravity and cruelty incarnate stalk the shadows of mankind’s world with a ravenous, insatiable thirst for blood — a thirst that, no matter how many souls it swallows, can seemingly never be quenched.
Like the food chain of the animal kingdom, there are varying degrees of severity amongst serial killers and their unforgivable exploits. It was over the span of about a year that Yoo Young-chul managed to slay and mutilate 20 different individuals without mercy or remorse.
Often called “The Raincoat Killer” because of the yellow raincoat he sported while revealing to police where he hid his victims’ bodies, Yoo Young-chul remains South Korea’s most infamous and notorious serial murderer.
Yoo grew up poor and underprivileged in Gochang County, South Korea. Prior to his reign of unrelenting terror, he’d already committed a slew of different crimes and been convicted multiple times. Theft, burglary, and counterfeiting identities predominated his rap sheet throughout the 1990s, and in 2000, he was imprisoned for raping a 15-year-old girl.
Three years later, Yoo was out on the streets again. By then, he’d decided it was time to up the caliber of his crimes. After enduring severe heartbreak when his wife left him, scorn and a frigid outlook on life usurped any semblance of reason that he had managed to salvage up until that point. All that remained was a heart filled with hateful vendettas.
The Raincoat Killer murders
Before targeting his fellow man, Yoo Young-chul began by slaying helpless animals (mainly dogs), and in September of 2003 — the same year as his release from prison — he murdered Lee Deok-su and his wife, Lee Eun-ok.
The elderly and defenseless couple were killed in their home in Sinsa-dong, an affluent area of South Korea. Yoo used a hammer to bludgeon the Lees to death — a grisly method that would ultimately become his preferred means of killing. A month later, he murdered a family of three.
The subsequent slayings over the course of those months following displayed a distinct pattern: all the victims were exceptionally wealthy.
Once Yoo became comfortable with his own system of inhuman atrocity, he started mutilating, dismembering, and even cannibalizing the bodies of his victims (or so he claimed).
“The scariest moment was not when a decapitated head fell off from a hanger or when a headless body came running to me. It was when my son called to ask if I still have cold,” Yoo shared following his arrest. The phone call allegedly took place while he was butchering the corpse of one of his victims.
Nonetheless, the killing spree was far from over. Police couldn’t put a face or name to the sadistic murderer whose crimes were becoming exponentially worse with every drop of blood spilled, and many more would die before Yoo Young-chul was finally brought to justice (per The Korean Herald).
Sex workers: a new group of victims
At that point, Yoo Young-chul had developed a particular method of selecting his victims, all of whom were notably wealthy and influential in society. Lee Deok-su was a highly esteemed professor at well-known university.
Those others who perished at his hand in the Fall of 2003 were mostly millionaires and successful entities in business/finance. A pattern had been established, but eventually, Yoo would pivot in his selection process to include a new sect of individuals: sex workers (via The Korea Herald).
Historically, Yoo was no stranger to the trade of eroticism. His ex-wife was a masseuse at one point and his former girlfriend — who also left him — made a living at an inconspicuous facility that marketed sexual favors to men. His familiarity with prostitution and its practitioners gave him notable access to their network, which he utilized in the worst possible way.
While his way of executing the elderly and affluent involved breaking into their homes, Yoo invited women back to his own residence to carry out their executions. The unknowing victim was lured into his apartment where he would engage with them sexually and afterward beat them over the head with a hammer.
As if that’s not chilling enough, he personally crafted the murder weapon himself, designing it to accommodate his grip. Using scissors and various other sharp tools, Yoo would then cut their bodies into pieces and hide them in trash bags (via All That’s Interesting).
Yoo Young-chul’s arrest and conviction
Those who look back on the harrowing saga of death and devastation brought on by Yoo Young-chul’s perverse compulsions point to the incompetence of authorities in apprehending him. Ultimately, his demise arose from a blatant misstep in his otherwise meticulous process of subtlety. After killing a young woman who he’d paid for sex, he used her cell phone days later to contact the massage parlor she worked at.
Recognizing the number, the establishment’s owner immediately contacted police and reported the location of the mysterious person on the other line. However, the officer sent to the motel left the scene before an arrest could be made (Yoo was on his way at the time), so employees from the massage parlor took it upon themselves to detain the culprit on their own (via All That’s Interesting).
Finally, Yoo was in police custody. Authorities finally had a tangible suspect for the grisly series of murders that took place over the course of only 10 months. However, the methodical subterfuge didn’t end there.
After feigning a seizure, Yoo managed to escape the grasp of police while they were scrambling in a sudden fit of panic. He was once again at large for a matter of 12 hours before being apprehended and placed back in a jail cell where he would stay until his sentencing. Yoo Young-chul was delivered the death sentence and remains in prison to this day awaiting his fate (per All That’s Interesting).
In his words
Yoo Young-chul’s incentive to brutally massacre innocent people was rooted in a deep-seated resentment toward those he vehemently despised. Growing up with limited means and depleted wealth, he viewed the rich as greedy, malicious, and unfairly placed above other factions in society.
Ergo, they deserved to die in his mind. Likewise, women became the brunt of his hate as well. Most surmise that this aversion stemmed from his divorce and subsequent split with his girlfriend. “Women should not be sluts, and the rich should know what they have done,” Yoo once declared (via The Korea Herald).
Yoo also stated that had he not been caught, he would have continued to kill without reservation. However, he did express a degree of remorse. When the prosecution team presented the penalty of death to the judge and jury, he said: “I am thankful for the prosecutors’ request for the death penalty. I will be repenting what I have done until I die.”
The death penalty in South Korea is currently on a “hold,” though Yoo Young-chul and 60 others in the country’s prison system remain on death row pending the hold’s discontinuation. When that may be, lawmakers and still unsure (per Showbiz Cheat Sheet).