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Murder petition hits 1 million

Alleged killer’s public appearance stirs up outrage on website

Oct 24,2018
A petition to the Blue House urging tough punishment for a 29 year-old man who brutally stabbed a part-time worker at an internet cafe in Seoul got over a million signatures on Tuesday, becoming the most widely supported petition on the presidential office’s website.

The case has gripped the nation after the grisly details of the murder became widely known, namely that the victim - a 21 year-old part-time worker surnamed Shin - had been stabbed in his face and neck over thirty times and bled to death without sustaining any injuries to his vital organs.

The alleged killer, Kim Seong-su, and the victim had quarreled over the cleaning up of trash in the internet cafe.

But the public’s curiosity and empathy for the victim soon turned to rage when it was revealed that Kim had requested that his psychiatric history be considered in deciding any punishment, apparently taking advantage of local courts’ tendency to be lenient to offenders who were mentally unbalanced.

Both the widespread public ire and vicious nature of the murder led police to disclose Kim’s identity and even show his face to the public on Monday, based on a rare decision by an internal police committee.

It’s the law in Korea to not release pictures of defendants in particular crimes, including very violent ones.

A listless and bespectacled Kim was reticent when police brought him in front of reporters at the Gangseo Police Precinct on Monday, giving muffled replies to questions about his mental health.

He told reporters that his family had submitted his psychiatric history to the police on his behalf.

Before Kim was hoisted into a police van, a sliver of remorse was discernible in his final words to the press: “I think I must face punishment for my crime.”

A petition that was posted last Wednesday on the Blue House website asked that Kim be punished harshly and it received over a million signatures by Tuesday, breaking the record as the most widely supported bid since the online platform was established by the Moon Jae-in government in August 2017.

The tragedy occurred on Oct. 14, when Kim asked Shin to remove some trash another customer left behind at a PC bang (internet cafe) in Gangseo District, western Seoul. According to police, the two ended up bickering. Officers showed up when Shin called 112, but left after the fight had apparently been resolved. Kim left the PC bang.

But thirty minutes after the police departed, Kim returned with a knife to stab Shin multiple times outside the PC bang. Bleeding profusely, Shin was sent to a nearby hospital but died at 11 a.m. Kim told police he stabbed the victim because Shin had acted rudely and refused to refund the 1,000 won (88 cents) hourly fee.

Namkoong Ihn, a doctor in the Emergency Medicine Department at Ewha Womans University Medical Center who treated Shin, recounted the tragic minutes leading up to the victim’s death that day on his Facebook page.

“A young person died of bleeding only from his face and hands,” said Namkoong. “Some really intentional and vicious stabs are needed for that to happen.”

On Monday, Kim was transferred to the Institute of Forensic Psychiatry in Gongju, South Chungcheong, to undergo a month-long examination of his mental state.

Forensic experts and criminal psychologists who watched Kim’s behavior in front of the press said that his inarticulate speech and overall passive disposition suggested a passive-aggressive state of mind that can produce uncontrollable rages.

Once the examination is complete, seven doctors and two government officials will make a determination of Kim’s mental diagnosis. It is unclear, however, how this result will factor into any court verdict or sentence.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]


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