[FOUNTAIN]Globalizing opens crime’s doorIn 1935, Kim Doo-han, then 17, defeated gang bosses and became the undisputed kingpin of the Seoul underworld.
In 1934, Mafia bosses from all over the United States swarmed into the Hotel Waldorf Astoria in New York City, where the details of the nationwide criminal syndicate were ironed out. The boss of the bosses who presided over that meeting was Charlie Luciano (1897-1962), who was from Sicily.
A Korean researcher on the Mafia, Ahn Hyuk, argues that Luciano, who went to the United States at the age of 9 and became the kingpin at 37, was the prototypical person who realized the American dream. Indeed, Luciano has been described as the real godfather of the criminal syndicate. He was one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, as named by Time magazine.
On his way to the throne, Luciano was involved in the deaths of such legendary first generation Mafia bosses as G. Masseria and S. Maranzano. When he killed Masseria, Luciano used a deceptive plan in which he first received the full trust of Masseria and then aimed at his weak point. Luciano had lunch with Masseria in a quiet restaurant in New York for three hours without Masseria’s guards. Luciano’s men attacked Masseria while Luciano went to the bathroom to set up an alibi.
To kill Maranzano, a distrustful person, Luciano trained four of his men for several months, spending $80,000, and installed a spy in the Maranzano camp. Bugsy Siegel, who became famous for establishing the casino business in Las Vegas, depicted in a movie about his life, was one of Luciano’s men.
Luciano was evil incarnate, who had a blend of cleverness and cruelty, prudence and boldness and criminal vision and wisdom. He opened the door of the Italian Mafia to Jews and the Irish. Under Luciano, organized crime in the United States became political, global and industrialized. The suspicion that the Mafia was involved in the death of John F. Kennedy reflects the criminal syndicate’s political reputation.
It was shocking to see the scenes captured on closed-circuit television of a Russian gangster shooting the boss of a rival group in Busan. Gun silencers had been unimaginable in Korea. The police say Korean gangsters likely were involved in the crime. The globalized Mafia cannot be dealt with by the strategies of Korean police in their old-fashioned “war against crime.”
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.