Murderer breaks out to see dead dad

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Murderer breaks out to see dead dad

Police arrested a convicted murderer, Choi Hak-cheol, four hours and 30 minutes after he escaped from a factory where he worked near a prison in Daejeon yesterday morning.

According to Daejeon police, Choi fled at 8:45 a.m. when he and 29 other cellmates were working at a factory that produces sacks outside the Daejeon Correction Center.

Choi left the assembly line, telling a guard he wanted to drink water with his prison mate.

When no one was watching, Choi jumped three two-meter-high barbed wire fences and ran.

Choi, a 33-year old Korean-Chinese, has been serving a 12-year jail term for murder since February 2005. Choi stabbed and killed a man who struck him at Namguro subway station in December 2000 and fled to Japan. Choi was extradited in February 2005 after being arrested by Japanese police.

Daejeon Correction Center staff and police believed Choi fled the prison to see his ailing father, whom he believed was alive.

The center said Choi’s older sister came to see him on Saturday to say his father was seriously ill.

Choi left a two-page note in the prison’s living room saying he wanted to see his father and asked guards not to track him, promising to return to prison the next day.

Choi managed to catch a taxi to Ansan, Gyeonggi, where his family lives. He borrowed a cell phone from the driver to talk to his sister and belatedly learned his father had passed away.

Choi went straight to his father’s tomb in Paju, Gyeonggi, where he was arrested at 1:15 p.m.

“Choi was bowing to his father at the time of arrest and didn’t resist when investigators arrested him,” an official with the Daejeon Correction Center said.

Choi will be transferred to the correction center after questioning.


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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