The bloody chaos in Korea has been a huge source of money for Netflix lately, as the horror thriller “Squid Game” continues to dominate audiences. A new docuserie aims to ride this wave with its sensational subject.
“The Raincoat Killer: Chasing a Predator in South Korea” tells the story of Yoo Young-chul, a serial killer who terrorized Seoul in the early years with a series of gruesome murders of the elderly and sex workers. Yoo, apparently unrepentant, was convicted of 20 murders in 2004 and is currently in prison in South Korea awaiting execution. His case loosely inspired a 2008 film, “The Chaser,” and now a three-part docusery aims to revisit actual events, primarily through a series of interviews with the still haunted police who worked on the case.
The details of the murders, as one medical examiner put it, are “frightening.” The killer, whose first victims were found in the fall of 2003, clubbed his targets with a sledgehammer. He first killed elderly people who lived in wealthy neighborhoods, leading an investigator to make a connection to the widespread social upheaval that had occurred during the financial crisis in Korea.
“The rich have become richer and the poor have become poorer,” says the officer, which has led to an increase in violent attacks and perpetrators who did not feel guilty because they were so disconnected from society.
Yoo – who had been in jail for rape before his series of murders – finally began killing sex workers after a failed relationship with one of them, investigators said.
He brought women to his apartment and murdered them there, beheading some of them and claiming, in several cases, to have eaten parts of their bodies.
“Yoo said that in order to cleanse his mind, he ate some of the internal organs in the bodies of four of his victims,” prosecutors said in 2004, adding, “It’s hard to believe Yoo’s statement because the killers in series tend to exaggerate. Asked about his motives, Yoo reportedly told the media that “women shouldn’t be sluts and the rich should know what they’ve done.”
Much of the Netflix series sticks to interviews with the officials involved, as well as photos of crime scenes and crime scene reenactments. The first episode focuses almost entirely on the police talking about their handling of the case at the start, as links were made between the crime scenes. A debate ensued among departments over whether to use the term “serial killer”, which could cause mass panic. Sometimes Yoo is heard in a voiceover, although it’s unclear whether he’s the killer in a taped interview or an actor.
In the third episode, the cops break into the killer’s apartment, where we see a collection of Yoo’s creepy drawings. They also discover a substantial amount of blood spattered in his bathroom, using a black light, and eventually understand that many of his female victims were killed and dismembered there. When he was arrested, Yoo was wearing the same yellow raincoat he frequently wore during his crimes.
The Raincoat Killer case also helped develop criminal profiling as a new practice in South Korea, which led to breakthroughs in later cases. Kwon Il Yong, the first Korean profiler, says in the paper that he developed techniques on this case that were used to catch subsequent murderers – and ultimately obtained justice for the elderly who were killed in their homes and young women murdered in Yoo’s apartment.
As Lee Soo Jung, professor of criminal psychology, puts it in the series, “Dead victims cannot speak. They can’t tell us how they were killed.