A murderer is arrested; military regime victims win suitNov. 12, 1963
Goh Jae-bong, Korea’s Jack the Ripper, was caught on this date. As a 27-year-old soldier, Mr. Goh fled from his base in Gangwon province.
At 1:30 a.m., on Oct. 19, however, Mr. Goh showed up again ―with a kitchen knife and an ax in front of Lt. Col Lee Deuk-ju’s house. Mr. Goh went into the house with the knife tied at his waist, an ax in one hand and a flashlight in the other. He slaughtered the colonel’s six family members one by one. Mr. Goh left with a diamond ring and a valuable watch.
One week after the homicide, the military and the police identified Mr. Goh as the key suspect and mounted an extensive search. Mr. Goh, meanwhile, dug a tunnel at Pyeongtaek, suburban Seoul, where he survived for 17 days, living on food he stole from nearby villages.
Then he entered central Seoul near the Cheonggye stream around this date. By then he became bold, wandering around the area looking for food. He was so daring that the area’s two street vendors, Kim Bok-su, a peanut seller, and Kim Seong, who sold socks, recognized his face and reported him to the police. Mr. Goh was arrested on this date.
One week after the arrest, Mr. Goh was sentenced to death. He gave up an appeal to the Supreme Court and was shot to death the following year in March.
Nov. 14, 1487
Han Myeong-hoe, a tactician for Sejo, the 7th king of Joseon Dynasty (1392 to 1910), died on this date. Ambitious, determined and quick-witted, he was the perfect partner for King Sejo, who usurped the crown from his young nephew, King Danjong. Playing a key role in the coup, Han Myeong-hoe started a purge of the former king’s faithful in a bloody crusade. He was also in the center of power struggles, implicated in coverup conspiracies several times but was never convicted.
Retired at the age of 70, he spent the rest of his life in what is now Apgujeong, an upscale area in southern Seoul. After his death, however, he was implicated again in a conspiracy. As a penalty, his corpse was exhumed and beheaded, though he was vindicated again later.
Nov. 15, 1996
Chun Doo Hwan, who took power with a coup d’etat in 1979, was anxious to get the country under his control. In May 1980, Mr. Chun sent troops to Gwangju to crack down on citizens calling for democracy, now remembered as one of the country’s most important movements.
Then he decided to teach other dissidents a lesson by forcing them into the Samcheong Training Camp. Any sign of disobedience, such as supporting Mr. Chun’s political rivals, was a ticket to the camp.
More than 60,000 citizens suffered severe military drills, which killed many of them. The government later announced that 54 died during training, obviously a gross underestimate.
In the 1990s, after Mr. Chun’s military regime ended, victims of the Samcheong Training Camp and their families called for compensation. More than 1,000 filed a suit against Mr. Chun and on this date, Seoul District Court ruled that the government pay 29 million won ($24,500) to the victims. Many of the victims, however, have yet to receive any money.
by Chun Su-jin