2-(4) Police chief quits over bungled rescue attempt (오원춘 인육사건)

Article:  http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2951222

Date: April 10, 2012


Summary: Commissioner of the National Agency resigned to take responsibility for police’s inability to track down and save a kidnapped victim who called for help before being raped, murdered and dismembered. The police handled the case poorly and a succession of police fumbles and oversights were revealed, alongside with false reports and cover-ups of what actually happened:

  1. Police said they tried to find the woman based on the info she gave them and the signal of the phone but was unable to because the info was inaccurate and they couldn’t search all houses in the area without warrants →→→ the transcript of the phone call showed that the victim was being specific with location of the suspect’s house and said she was in the place between A and B. But the police focused their search on only A. the crime scene was later found to be closer to B, an area they neglected.
  2. Officers misjudged the situation as a married couple’s quarrel and didn’t report of the higher ranking authorities
  3. The suspect said he kidnapped the victim around 10:50 pm and strangled her to death at 5:00 am →→→ they had about 6 hours to find and rescue her
  4. The police who were supposed to search for the victim were dozing off inside the car →→→the crime scene was only about 20 footsteps away from the vehicle they were sleeping in.


More detailed story about the case:  According to the testimony by the suspect, a 42-year old Chinese of Korean descent surnamed Woo, he kidnapped the victim at 10:50 pm on April 1. He was drunk on the night of the abduction and kidnapped the woman on a whim because she had bumped into him without apology while he was smoking outside a convenience store. Revealed by one of the CCTV footage which is 13 seconds long, the man attacked the victim from behind after sh passed the pole and then dragged her away. The attack occurred near Jidong Elementary School in Suwon.

This crime was famous not only due to the exposure of the police force’s incompetence and negligence of duty, but also the suggested possibility of the suspect killing the victim for the sale of human flesh. Woo testified during the investigation that he dismembered the corpse (into 365 pieces) to dispose of it but the court and the victim’s family didn’t believe what he said. The court’s verdict said “the dismembering was done in a leisurely way, and that Woo smoked cigarettes, watched pornography and stopped to sharpen the kitchen knife he was using for the task. Woo spent six hours cutting the corpse into 365 pieces, about three hours longer than in similar cases.” There was no explanation from Woo why the body was cut into 365 pieces. Furthermore, he did not damage her kidneys or use any rough instruments like hammers or saws.


Now he is serving his years in the prison as the Suwon District Court sentenced the killer to death, considering the cruelty and viciousness of his behavior and the fact that he never showed signs of regret. The court also ordered him to wear an electronic anklet for the next 30 years and ordered his personal information including a photo of his face be made public for the next 10 years. Although he was sentenced to death I doubt he will actually be executed because no condemned convict has been executed since December 1997.

Opinion:  One of the excuses the police force used was that they were unable to collect the exact location of the suspect right away due to related legal procedures, unavoidable in emergency situation. So I think revision on the law on information and protection of emergency victims should be made and. If there is a law which authorize the police to locate victims with the help of mobile operators in emergency situations without prior consent from the phone owners, victims who are desperately in need of help due to situations like kidnap, rape, attack etc could be saved.

Furthermore, this case also shows how Korean situation room workers are untrained. They wasted the precious time asking the victim about the whereabouts of the house (which is also the case in Sewol ferry incident) rather than instructing the woman on what to do or finding the location of the victim while she is on the line.

Vocabulary/ Expressions:

(1) Bungle [VERB] If you bungle something, you fail to do it properly, because you make mistakes or are clumsy

  • Synonyms: mess up, blow, ruin
  • Antonyms: accomplish
  • Korean Equivalent: ~을 엉망으로 (서투르게) 하다
  • Personal Sentence: They bungled up the job

(2) Bereave [VERB] To deprive (of) something or someone valued, especially through death

  • Korean Equivalent: (가족, 친지와) 사별하다
  • Personal Sentence: police force’s competence led one family to be bereaved with a loving daughter

(3) Fumble [VERB] If you fumble for something or fumble with something, you try and reach for it or hold it in a clumsy way

  • Synonyms: grope, flounder, scrabble
  • Korean Equivalent: (무엇을 하거나 찾느라고 손으로) 더듬거리다
  • Personal Sentence: he fumbled in his pocket for a handkerchief

댓글 2개

  1. My God, what a frightening story. That poor girl.

    Liked by 1명

  2. What the killer did is just shocking and terrifying. I can’t believe how cruel a person can be! I feel so sorry for the victim and I think the police chief deserves to resign for the poor effort.

    Liked by 1명

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