A great gangster, a great white shark, a great composerMay 19, 1990
Kim Tae-chon was the big boss of an aspiring organized crime group. It was 1975 when he first made his name known in the world of gangsters, as the leader of Seobang Faction. His group was the first to use steel pipes and knives to annihilate the then-ruling Sinsangsa Faction , based in Myeongdong, central Seoul.
Then he turned his eyes to Gwangju, South Jeolla province, to remove the powerful OB Faction and become the king of gangsters on the peninsula.
Successful, Mr. Kim was the object of fear across the peninsula. Rumors had it that Mr. Kim even had close connections with important politicians.
But Mr. Kim was arrested in 1986, for an assault on the owner of New Songdo Hotel in Incheon, Gyeonggi province. Mr. Kim was sentenced to 15 years.
In 1989, however, Mr. Kim contracted pneumonia while in prison. His left lung was removed at Severance Hospital, earning Mr. Kim an early release.
Mr. Kim announced that he was now a whole new person. He formed a charity group called Sinuhoe, which lent a helping hand to needy people.
The former boss, however, could not let the past go. Mr. Kim often made trips to Gyeonggi province. On the surface, he claimed to be going to pray to God. It turned out, however, that Mr. Kim was working on re-establishing his Seobang Faction.
The police, sensing something was not right, started a secret investigation, and found that Mr. Kim was still the guy in charge.
On this date, the police arrested Kim Tae-chon again, finding 260 million won ($220,000) worth of ill-gotten cash and checks.
May 23, 1981
If you are planning a summer getaway to the west coast of the peninsula, be careful when swimming in the sea. Man-eating sharks have appeared several times along the western coast. A notable instance occurred on this date near Anmyeon island, South Chungcheong province.
Park Gyeong-sun, 29, an abalone diver, was in the sea with her husband, Im Jong-su. As she went deep, a great shark, more than 6 meters (19 feet) long, attacked her. Mr. Im stabbed the shark with a spear, but in vain. The shark held onto Ms. Park and disappeared into the sea.
May 24, 1999
Little is known in Korea about the Korean-American composer Donald Sur, also known by his Korean name Yeong-se. Mr. Sur, born in 1935 in Honolulu, died on this date in his Boston home at the age of 64. Mr. Sur in 1972 became the first Korean to receive a doctorate in musical composition.
He grew up playing the ukulele and mandolin, as well as pursuing other classical instruments like the violin and piano. But his music is remembered mostly for his enthusiasm for Korean traditional court music. During his stay in Seoul in the 1960s, he studied at the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts. He researched variety of traditional instruments. His 1967 work, “Red Dust,” for 29 traditional percussion instruments, is valued as the turning point of modern Korean musical composition in the traditional style.
by Chun Su-jin