02/27/19. 19:45. P12
/Murders, Disappearances, Racists, and the Burberry Man/
/Category: Critical Thinking/Problem Solving/
/Guide Question: Have any of your assumptions about your host country proven to be false? What assumptions do you make on a regular basis about life in the US?/
Murders and Disappearances
Sometime in the 1980s until the 1990s, a restless terror resided among the citizens of the city of Hwaseong in Gyeonggi Province. Several women, whose ages ranged from thirteen to seventy-one were found strangled with their own clothing, raped, and murdered. Over 1.8 million police officers and investigators were involved in the case, but due to the lack of forensic technology during the time, the case remains unsolved and the culprit remains at large. It is quite unnerving to think that if he’s still alive today, he must only be in his 50s.
In 1991, five elementary school boys were on their way to Mt. Waryong in Daegu to catch some frogs. They didn’t have class because it was a national holiday. Little did they know that they will never attend class ever again nor even get to return home. Their bodies were found in 2002, only after 11 years. A study of their remains found evidence of blunt-force trauma. The killer has yet to be identified and found.
From 2003-2004, 20 people were murdered in Seoul. In particular, these people consisted of the rich, and prostitutes. This was the work of Yoo Young-chul. His infamous words were “Women should not be sluts, and the rich should know what they have done.” He remarked in an interview that even if he felt sorry for his victims, he would have killed a hundred more if he was released. He is sentenced to death but as the Korean government have not performed any executions for years, he is currently in jail.
These are some of the famous cold cases in South Korea. I’ve gotten to know them because I recently watched a movie about the Hwaseong Case. I am a fan of true stories and highly enjoyed the Hwaseong-murders-inspired movie. It piqued my interest so much that I immediately researched more about it. I discovered these other stories during my research, and successfully scared myself that I couldn’t sleep the whole night. Either way, all three of these cases have been made into movies and I highly recommend them:
I. Hwaseong Case – “Memories of Murder (살인의추억)”
(I heard that the Korean drama “Tunnel” was also based off the murders)
II. Frog Boys Case – “Children (아이들)”
III. Yoo Young-chul– “The Chaser (추격자)”
If you want to read more about the cases:
Cold Cases Unfrozen (Jung Min-kyung)– https://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170526000720
South Korea’s Most Notorious Serial Killers (Jo He-rim)– https://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170526000521
Remembering the Frog Boys (Alice)– https://defrostingcoldcases.com/remembering-the-frog-boys/
On another note, I think because my appearance tends to blend in with fellow Koreans, I fortunately have not encountered any bouts of racism. A Caucasian friend of mine has been mistaken for a Russian woman as she was approached by an old geezer, asking her how much she costs for an hour (not to say that Russians are representatives of prostitutes but we both thought that perhaps there are more Russian sex workers in the country than those that come from other countries). Another Caucasian friend also had a terrible experience while riding the subway. This happened in broad daylight too with a good amount of people in the subway cart. Normally, subway carts look like this in Korea, so sometimes you get the awkward position of standing in front of the person sitting:
My friend was standing in front of an old man during that ride. The old man kept staring creepily at her and at one point PURPOSEFULLY lifted up her skirt. My friend was so shocked that she wasn’t able to defend herself and recalls that the people present did not help her even if they saw what happened, with the exception of one guy who consoled her and reprimanded the old creeper. Another friend recalls that a stranger once told her to “go back to her own country.” Funny that in the US, it’s usually us Asians, or Latinos, who are on the receiving end of this comment.
There is also this interesting, albeit disturbing phenomenon known as “바바리맨 (ba-ba-ri man)” a.k.a. Burberry man in Korean pronunciation. This was a topic we talked about in my Korean conversation class. A babariman is nothing more than your regular flasher. He usually wears a trench coat over his birthday suit, thus earning him the moniker “babariman” (Burberry – think of Burberry’s famous trench coats). I was told that he usually lurks near middle schools and high schools, ready to flash his private parts at unsuspecting school girls. It doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident since my teacher informed me it has been quite the debate whether it should be considered a punishable crime or a minor offence since the intent is usually just to scare off girls more than inflict grave sexual offences. Even my teacher had the experience of being flashed at when she was younger. I have never even imagined such a thing existed.
I have always thought of South Korea as a relatively safe country; I freely walk the streets at night with no worries, I leave my belongings on tables and still find everything there when I come back from the bathroom, there are less violent homeless people, and in general, I really feel at peace. Although compared to the US it undeniably is, as the US itself has its own many issues it could work on, stories like these make me realize that bad people can come from anywhere. Thus, practicing caution is always a good idea, especially to us women; sometimes it really is hard to be a woman. However, while it is true that bad things can occur anywhere, let’s not make it easier for terrible people to hurt lives. As much as possible, I hope that we can learn to protect each other.