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Woo BUM-KON

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "Power"
 
Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: Korean police officer - The worst incident of spree killing in known history
Number of victims: 57
Date of murders: April 27, 1982
Date of birth: February 24, 1955
Victims profile: Men, women, and children
Method of murder: Woo shot most of his victims, but in one case he killed an entire family with a grenade
Location: Sang-Namdo, South Korea
Status: As police forces were closing in, he set the grenades' fuses, killing both himself and three of his hostages
 
 

 
 

Woo "Power" Bum-Kon (February 24, 1955-April 27, 1982) was a Korean police officer who carried out the worst incident of spree killing in known history, killing 58 (including himself), and wounding 35 in Sang-Namdo, South Korea.

Uiryeong massacre

Bum-Kon had an argument with his live-in girlfriend in the afternoon of April 26, 1982. Enraged, he left the house and sat in the police armory and began consuming large amounts of whiskey. He became moderately drunk and raided the police armory of its weapons and built a personal arsenal. He stole a single high-powered rifle and some grenades and walked out of the armory with these in hand. By that time, it was around dinner hour. He walked from house to house, and abused his position as a police officer to make people feel safe. Then he shot the victims, or simply blew the entire family up with a grenade. He continued this pattern for the next eight hours, and into the early morning hours of April 27.

Village to village

When Bum-Kon had shot a certain number of people in a village, he ran to another village and started killing. Eventually, he had torn through five villages in the Uireyong province. The victims could not defend themselves, as they thought that he was a friendly officer simply handling disturbances. And if they were attacked, they could not fight back, as guns are banned to civilians in Korea.

Suicide

In the early hours of April 27, Bum-Kon took his final two grenades and strapped them to this body. He grabbed three people as he set the fuse of the grenades. They became his final victims, as he blew himself up, killing the three he had taken hostage. The world's worst spree killing was finally over.

Resignation of the Interior Minister

The Interior Minister of South Korea, Suh Chung Hwa, believed that he had failed at his job of protecting the peace because of the incident, and in shame resigned his post. As a result, Roh Tae-woo was appointed as the new Interior Minister.


Woo Bum-kon (or Wou Bom-kon) (February 24, 1955 April 27, 1982) was a South Korean police officer who carried out the largest known incident of spree killing in modern history. After the rampage concluded, 57 people (including himself) were dead and 35 were wounded in Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea.

Life

Woo had served in the South Korean Marines until 1978. In December 1980 he was hired by the National Police in Pusan and settled in the village of Torongni in December 1981, after being transferred to the local police station in Kungyu.

Uiryeong massacre

Woo had an argument with his live-in girlfriend, Chun Mal-soon, on the afternoon of April 26, 1982, after she had woken him by swatting a fly on his chest. Enraged, he left the house and went to the police station, where he reported for duty at 4 p.m., and began drinking heavily. At about 7:30 p.m. Woo returned home, punched and kicked his girlfriend and smashed the furniture, before making his way to the armory. As the other officers were at a meeting, he managed unnoticed to gather an arsenal, consisting of two M2 carbines, 180 rounds of ammunition, and seven hand grenades.

At approximately 9:30 p.m. Woo began shooting on passers-by in a marketplace in the village of Torongni, where he also wounded Chun Mal-soon, who had gone to investigate, after hearing shots in the village. His next stop was at the post office in the nearby village of Kungryu, where he killed three phone operators and cut off the telephone lines to prevent others from calling emergency services. From that point on he proceeded from village to village, taking advantage of his position as a police officer to gain entry to the houses and shoot its inhabitants. That way Woo managed to kill 18 people in the village of Ungye, and 24 more in the village of Pyongchon. At one point, he ordered a 16-year-old boy to get him a soft drink from a grocery store. After getting what he had asked for Woo shot the boy and his family.

Woo shot most of his victims, but in one case he killed an entire family with a grenade. Although police were alerted one hour after the beginning of the killing spree, he was able to avoid capture and continue his rampage for a full eight hours. In the early hours of April 27, after rampaging through five villages in Uiryeong county, Woo took his final two grenades and strapped them to his body. He hid in the farmhouse belonging to 68-year-old Suh In-Su, holding him and his family captive, when police finally caught up with him. As police forces were closing in, he set the grenades' fuses, killing both himself and three of his hostages. Mr. Suh himself survived gravely injured.

Altogether, with a toll of 57 dead and 35 injured, the rampage of Woo Bum-Kon is the killing spree with most victims in modern times. Chun Mal-soon later said that her boyfriend "suffered from an inferiority complex and had been bothered by villagers' comments on their living together unmarried." Later on, the provincial chief of police was suspended, and four other officers were arrested for negligence of duty.

Aftermath

The Interior Minister of South Korea, Suh Chung-hwa and the national police chief, An Eung-mo, offered to resign as a form of atonement for Woo's rampage. Suh Chung-hwa, being held responsible for the incident by president Chun Doo-hwan, lay down his office on April 29, and Roh Tae-woo was appointed Interior Minister.

A special parliamentary team was formed, consisting of 19 parliamentarians and led by Home Affairs Committee chairman Kim Chong-hoh, to investigate the shooting and its disastrous handling by the police. Furthermore the South Korean Cabinet decided to pay compensations to the victims and their families.

Wikipedia.org


In S. Korea, a deadly rampage

Drunken policeman kills at least 53 villagers, then commits suicide

The Boston Globe

April 27, 1982

A drunken police officer, using carbines and hand grenades, killed between 53 and 79 villagers in an eight-hour rampage before taking his own life early today.

The South Korean national police gave an official death toll of 53, including 20 men and 33 women, but most afternoon newspapers reported 62 dead. And the newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun, published near the scene of the shooting in a remote southern area, said there were 79 dead.


Policeman's spree kills 58 koreans

The Boston Globe

April 27, 1982

Home Minister Suh Chung-hwa offered his resignation today to atone for a policeman who went berserk and killed 58 Koreans during a drunken rampage after an argument with his wife.

The policeman, Woo Kum-kon, 27, exploded a hand grenade and killed himself in a farmhouse after terrorizing Uiryong, 200 miles south of Seoul, and five neighboring hamlets for eight hours. The suicide blast reportedly killed three members of the farm family.


Policeman kills 55 in Korea

The Times

April 28, 1982

Seoul, April 27. - A drunken policeman killed at least 55 people after quarrelling with his mistress and then ended his eight-hour rampage by blowing himself to pieces with hand grenades, authorities said today.

His mistress, who was among the 37 people reported to have been wounded, said the quarrel erupted when she woke her lover while trying to brush a fly off his chest. The policeman, Woo Bom Kon, aged 27, then roamed the surrounding countryside, firing rifles and throwing hand grenades at villagers before killing himself in a remote farmhouse at dawn. The events in the Kyongsang Namdo, 200 miles south of Seoul, prompted Mr Suh Chung Hwa, South Korea's Interior Minister, and the national police chief to offer their resignations although they did not actually quit their post.

The mistress, Chun Mal Sun, aged 25, said "I went out and found Woo on the rampage, firing from two rifles. One of the bullets hit me". She had earlier been listed among those killed. Police said Mr Woo stole two rifles from the police station and later broke into a reserve army depot to take six hand grenades. They said Mr Woo, a former marine, fired wildly at anything that moved. By dawn, police and troops finally tracked him to a farmhouse. There he set off two grenades which killed three members of the farmer's family as well as himself.

In Seoul, a special Cabinet committee, chaired by Mr Yoo Chang Soon, the Prime Minister, was formed to investigate the killings. Four policemen at Mr Woo's station were ordered to be arrested for neglect of duty.


Koreans say 58 slain in rampage

April 28, 1982

Woo Bum Kon, a 27-year-old police officer, opened fire with rifles and threw grenades in a rampage beginning Monday night that killed 58 persons.

Officials said Woo had had a bitter argument with his 25-year-old wife Monday night, began drinking heavily and then went to a military armory, where he took two carbines, 180 rounds of ammunition and seven hand grenades. Then, authorities said, he set out on a course of killing that took him on foot into five small villages in Uiryong County, about 200 miles south of Seoul. During the carnage his wife was reported seriously wounded. Woo apparently blew himself up with a grenade.

Authorities said Woo's first victim was a pedestrian, shot in the street. Then the police officer burst into a post office, where four persons were killed, they said, and went on to a marketplace, hurling grenades and firing the carbines. The body of the police officer was found early yesterday in an isolated farmhouse about 2 1/2 miles from his police station. Alongside him were the bodies of three members of the farm family, the last victims. Authorities said he had exploded two grenades there. Only four rounds of ammunition and one grenade were found unexpended.

Some of his victims died in their homes or shops, others were killed when they ran into the streets alarmed by the sound of shooting and explosions. "The patrolman came to my house leading a student," Shin We Do, a 52-year- old shopkeeper, told reporters. "He asked for a soft drink. I gave him one. He had only one gulp and fired a shot at the student, killing the boy there. "Then he fired shots at my wife and two of my children. They all died on the spot. Running out of the house, I was shot at and hit in the legs."

A 45-year-old farmer, Chun Yong Sup, said he was at the home of a friend when he heard shooting. "When I came out of the house, I saw the policeman, drunk and jumping around like a madman, firing," he said. "I was so frightened and could not get to my house. I fled into a nearby paddy until all became quiet near dawn, then returned home."

When word of the slayings reached Seoul, Home Minister Suh Chung Hwa flew to the scene in a police plane, and later offered his resignation to assume responsibility for the action.


Seoul is stunned by policeman's slaying of 56

The New York Times

April 28, 1982

SEOUL, South Korea, April 27 - For eight hours beginning last night, a drunken South Korean policeman stormed through a southern farm community killing at least 56 people and wounding 37 others, and a stunned national Government sought today to find out why no one could stop him.

A five-member Cabinet committee headed by Prime Minister Yoo Chang Soon was formed to deal with the incident, and it sent an investigative team of 15 prosecutors and police officials to the scene, in the southern country of Uiryong. South Korea's Home Minister, Suh Chung Hwa, and the national police chief, Ahn Ung Mo, offered to resign and assume responsibility for what was viewed as a deplorable breakdown of the security system's ability to react quickly to any threat to peace, such as a guerrilla attack from the north.

The provincial police chief was suspended, and four other policeman were arrested. They were charged with neglect of duty, apparently for having failed to prevent the assailant, Woo Bom Kon, from taking two carbines and 180 rounds of ammunition from the police armory and seven grenades from an army post. Mr. Woo killed himself with two of the grenades.

The policeman, who was 26 years old, was said to have fired 170 of the 180 rounds of ammunition during his rampage, which began at 9:30 P.M. It apparently was set off by rage at the way he was awakened from a nap he was taking before going to work; the woman he lived with, 25-year-old Chun Mai Sun, swatted a fly that had landed on his chest. After reporting for duty at 4 P.M., the policeman, a former marine sergeant, was said to have done some heavy drinking at the local police station.

At about 7.30 P.M., a according to Miss Chun, he came home drunk, punched her, making her nose bleed, and then went off into the dark. While police colleagues were at a community meeting, Mr. Woo helped himself to the arms and began roaming through the country.

Many Flee Into Ricefields

About two hours later, he opened fire on passers-by in a marketplace in the village of Torongni, hitting Miss Chun, who had gone to find him. Next, he entered a post office in the nearby village of Kungryu, where he killed three telephone operators and cut off the community from the outside world.

Mr. Woo, who was in his police uniform, went from village to village, heading for lighted windows, knocking on doors and shooting or throwing grenades. Many people fled into ricefields, but others were trapped, not expecting trouble from a uniformed policeman as they opened their doors. At one point, he ordered a 16-year-old schoolboy at gunpoint to get him a soft drink from a grocery store. After drinking it, he killed the boy and members of his family. Then he headed off into the night once more. The police said he had killed 18 people in the village of Ungye, and 24 in the village of Pyongchon.

The police were unable to catch up with Mr. Woo as he kept constantly on the move for hours under cover of darkness. Trapped finally in a farmhouse, he held two grenades to his body and detonated them, killing himself and the family that lived there. Miss Chun, who reportedly was not severely wounded, said Mr. Woo had suffered from an inferiority complex and had been disturbed by villagers comments about their living together without being married. She described him as having been "a little eccentric."

News Dominates Front Page

News of the killings dominated front pages of the South Korean press, obliterating stories of the departure from Seoul today of Vice President Bush. Mr Bush had been here for a three-day visit to assure South Korea of American support at celebrations of a centenary of United States-Korean ties.

There were expressions of shock and outrage from South Korean leaders, and President Chun Doo Hwan sent his staff chief, Lee Bum Suk, to Uiryong.



Woo "Power" Bum-Kon

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
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