Yoo Young-chul: The Raincoat Killer
Written By: JEH
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Yoo Young-chul is a South Korean serial killer and self-confessed cannibal. He was dubbed as The Raincoat Killer because he often wore a raincoat while committing his crimes, even during his arrest. Yoo targeted escort girls and wealthy seniors for he believed that “Women shouldn’t be sluts, and the rich should know what they’ve done.” With the help of his hammer, he murdered at least 20 people from 2003 to 2004. Hence, Yoo Young-chul: The Raincoat Killer was born. The 2008 film “The Chaser” was loosely based on Yoo’s crimes.
Yoo Young-chul Before the Raincoat
Yoo Young-chul was born on April 18, 1970 in Gochang County, South Korea. His parents separated right after his birth, so he, along with his siblings, were raised by their grandmother for a few years before their father took them. Throughout his childhood, his parents struggled financially, leading to constant bullying at school. But he found solace in arts; he loved singing, painting, poetry, and playing the guitar. He then decided to enter a school specializing in arts, but due to poverty and low grades, he was denied admission.
Yoo had to settle in a technical school, but he did not last long and eventually quit high school. Instead, he spent most of his teenage life in juvenile detention for thievery. He continued stealing into his adulthood, from cash and cameras to cars.
Growing Bitterness: Murder for Revenge
In 1992, Yoo married a woman known only as “Ms. Hwang” and the couple had one son. Throughout their marriage, Yoo went to jail several times for theft, selling child pornography, forgery, and identity theft. Ms. Hwang finally filed for divorce after Yoo was arrested for raping a 15-year-old in 2000.
Yoo was released from prison on September 11, 2003. Weeks after his release, he broke into the home of a wealthy elderly couple, where Lee Deok-su, a retired university professor, and his wife resided. Yoo stabbed Lee in the neck with a knife before bludgeoning Lee’s wife to death with a hammer. Before fleeing the scene, Lee made it look like a robbery but stole nothing, confusing investigators.
Not long after his first murder, Yoo struck again. This time, he forced his way into another house and hit the head of 85-year-old Kang Eun-sun with his hammer. Hearing the commotion downstairs, Lee Sook-jin , the homeowner’s wife , rushed to the murder scene and saw Yoo. Yoo kicked her in the stomach and demanded to know whether or not there were more people in the house. After learning that other people were upstairs, Yoo bludgeoned the homeowner’s wife and searched the house. He located the couple’s disabled son, Go Joo-sin, who was forced to kneel down before his death.
On October 16, Yoo committed his third deadly home invasion. He threatened Yoo Joon-hee, the wife of a millionaire, with a knife and asked if anyone else was home. Upon knowing that she was home alone, he dragged her into the bathroom and bludgeoned her to death.
A month after Yoo Joon-hee’s murder, Young-chul broke into another wealthy household. He threatened the housekeeper, 53-year-old Bae Ji-hye, to show him the way to the master bedroom. Bae led him to the bedroom, where 87-year-old Kim Jong-seok was resting. Yoo immediately hit Kim’s head with a hammer, causing Bae to protect the infant she had been holding. Yoo noticed and took the infant from Bae, putting the child on the sofa. Then, he also bludgeoned Bae to death. When Yoo accidentally cut himself while trying to open a safe, he decided to set the house on fire to destroy all evidence. Fortunately, the infant survived the incident.
When the investigation started to intensify, Yoo decided to stop his killings for a while. Then, he met and started dating an escort girl, who left him after discovering his criminal record. Enraged, Yoo began killing again.
On February 6, 2004, he mistook 25-year-old Jeon Hyo-sil for an escort girl and stabbed her in the chest. After Jeon, he killed more people until September 2004, and they were identified as:
• Mr. Chung (47) – A street vendor, burned in his van
• Kwon Jin-hee (23) – Strangled to death, dismembered, body dumped on a trail near Sogang University
• Ahn Jae-sun (44) – A street vendor who scammed Yoo with fake Viagra. Yoo then handcuffed and murdered him in a van, later sawing the victim’s hands off. Before leaving, Yoo set the van on fire.
After Ahn’s death, Yoo utilized a new modus operandi: luring escort girls into his apartment, bludgeoning, decapitation, and mutilation. The victims were identified as:
• Kim Hee-sun (25) – died May 2004
• Shin Min-a (33) – died May 7, 2004
• Han Sook-ja (35) – died June 1, 2004
• Jang Kwang (26) – died June 9, 2004
• Kim Ji-ho (27) – died June 18, 2004
• Woo Koo-yeon (28) – died June 25, 2004
• Kim Mi-young (26) – died July 2, 2004
• Go Sun-hee (24) – died July 9, 2004
• Im Mi-yeon (27) – died July 13, 2004
Two days after Im Mi-yeon’s death, a massage parlor alerted the police about the disappearance of their employees after receiving similar phone calls. Authorities were able to trace the calls back to Yoo and arrested him. Faking a seizure, Yoo managed to escape but was recaptured twelve hours later.
Ending the Hammer Murders
Yoo was taken into custody on July 15, 2004, and the police thoroughly searched his apartment for evidence. Authorities found several movies, including Public Enemy (2002), Very Bad Things (1998), and Normal Life (1996), leading investigators to believe that the movies inspired Yoo’s M.O. But Yoo later confessed that the serial killer Jeong Du-yeong, who had murdered nine wealthy people in Busan, was the one who inspired him.
A month after his arrest, Yoo also confessed to eating the flesh and livers of his victims. However, no evidence was found to support his claim.
On September 6, 2004, Yoo appeared in court and apologized to the family of his victims. Despite the apology, he boasted that he had no intention of stopping his murders. Two weeks after his first appearance, he lunged at the three presiding judges and recanted his confession for the murder of Jeon Hyo-sil. Then, he refused to appear at the next court session on October 4, 2004, after attempting suicide the night before.
Three weeks later, Yoo disrupted a hearing once more when he tried to attack a spectator who had cursed him. This ended with Yoo signing a statement agreeing not to cause any more commotion in the courtroom.
On December 13, Yoo was sentenced to death for 20 counts of murder. The count of murder for Jeon Hyo-sil is still under investigation because some believe that a different serial killer, Jeong Nam-gyu, committed the crime.
Yoo’s case has fueled the debate on capital punishment in South Korea. Although the death penalty is still permissible under law, it has not been carried out since 1997. Up until this day, Yoo still awaits his execution and is currently imprisoned at the Seoul Detention Center.
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