Woo Bum-kon

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Woo Bum-kon
Woo Bum-kon.jpg
Born Woo Bum-kon
February 24, 1955
Pusan, South Gyeongsang, South Korea
Died April 27, 1982(1982-04-27) (aged 27)
Uiryeong, South Korea
Cause of death Suicide
Occupation Police officer
Details
Date April 26 – 27, 1982
c. 9:30 p.m. – 3:40 a.m.
Location(s) Uiryeong, South Korea
Killed 57 (including himself)
Injured 35
Weapons Two M2 carbines
Seven hand grenades
Woo Bum-kon
Hangul 우범곤
Hanja 禹範坤
Revised Romanization U Beom-gon
McCune–Reischauer U Pǒmgon

Woo Bum-kon (or Wou Bom-kon (February 24, 1955 – April 27, 1982) was a South Korean policeman and spree killer who killed 56 people and wounded 35 others in several villages in Uiryeong County, South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea, during the night from April 26 to April 27, 1982, before committing suicide.[1]

His rampage remained the deadliest known mass murder committed by a lone gunman in modern history until the Norway attacks of July 22, 2011,[2] and was the deadliest mass killing in modern South Korean history until the Daegu subway fire.

Background[edit]

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 Togok-ri in December 1981, after being transferred to the local police station in Kungyu.[3][4]

Uiryeong massacre[edit]

Prelude[edit]

Woo had an argument with his live-in girlfriend, Chun Mal-soon (전말순), 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 4:00 p.m. According to early reports, he began drinking heavily, though eyewitnesses later stated that Woo did not appear drunk during his rampage, and according to local officials, he would have been unable to cover 4 km of difficult, rocky terrain while intoxicated.

At about 7:30 p.m., Woo returned home, punched and kicked his girlfriend and smashed the furniture, before making his way to the reservists' armory and gathered several weapons, consisting of two M2 carbines, 144-180 rounds of ammunition, and seven hand grenades. Some reports stated that the other officers were at a meeting, and he therefore managed to grab the weapons unnoticed,[5] though others mentioned that he had intimidated the guards to gain access.[citation needed]

Victims[6]
Togok-ri (토곡리)
  • Jeon Un-suk (전은숙), 23
  • Son Jin-tae (손진태), 26
Apgok-ri (압곡리)
  • Gang Pan-im (강판임), 61
  • Choi Bun-ee (최분이), 71
  • Jeon Jong-jeong (전종정), 36
  • Baek Jeom-ag (백점악), 36, wife of Jeon Jong-jeong
  • Lee Chun-su (이춘수), 50
  • Son Jeong-hee (손정희), 50
  • Yu Baek-am (유백암), 59
  • Lee Pan-su (이판수), 50
  • Mun Sun-ee (문순이), 44, wife of Lee Pan-su
Ungye-ri (운계리)
  • Son Won-jeom (손원점), 51
  • Shin Su-jeong (신수정), 9, daughter of Shin We-do
  • Shin Chang-sun (신창순), 13, daughter of Shin We-do
  • Park In-gil (박인길), 42
  • Choi Jeong-nyeo (최정녀), 40, wife of Park In-gil
  • Park Kyung-suk (박경숙), 19, son of Park In-gil
  • Park Jae-cheol (박재철), 14, son of Park In-gil
  • Park Hyeon-suk (박현숙), 8, daughter of Park In-gil
  • Seol Sun-jeom (설순점), 49
  • Yu Sun-ja (유순자), 19, daughter of Seol Sun-jeom
  • Kim Wol-sun (김월순), 28
  • Jeon Dal-bae (전달배), 18
  • Sin Yeong-lyeon (신경련), 43
  • Yu Jeom-sun (유점순), 19
  • Jin Pil-li (진필리), 19
  • Jeon Yong-gil (전용길), 37
  • Kim Ju-dong (김주동), 18
  • Jin Il-im (진일임), 48
  • Park Gab-jeo (박갑저), 38
  • Park Myeong-lyeon (박명련), 32
  • Park Mi-hae (박미해), 14
Pyongchon-ni (평촌리)
  • Seo Hyeong-su (서형수), 27
  • Seo Jeong-su (서정수), 22, brother of Seo Hyeong-su
  • Park Jong-deog (박종덕), 43
  • Jeon Bok-sun (전복순), 63
  • Park Bong-sun (박봉순), 41
  • Ham So-nam (함소남), 51
  • Lee Ta-sun (이타순), 46
  • Lee Sun-du (이순두), 46
  • Han Myeong-gyu (한명규), 53
  • Choi Gyeong-jag (최경작), 43
  • Seo Eum-seog (서음석), 20, son of Choi Gyeong-jag
  • Mun Byeong-hyeong (문병형), 8
  • Mun Se-jeong (문세정), 2
  • Gwak Gi-dal (곽기달), 43
  • Gwak Ju-il (곽주일), 14, son of Gwak Gi-dal
  • Park Sun-deog (박순덕), 41, wife of Gwak Gi-dal
  • Jo Eul-sun (조을순), 56
Other areas
  • Heo Ee-jung (허이중), 23, killed in Byeokgye-ri (벽계리)
  • Jo Gwi-nam (조귀남), 54, killed in Jukjeon-ri (죽전리)
  • Jo Myeong-lyul (조명률), 59, killed in Bonggok-ri (봉곡리)
  • Ha Gyeong-jae (하경재), 5
  • Yu Lyang (유량), age unknown
  • Jo Yong-deog (조용덕), 46, Haman-gun
Perpetrator (suicide)
  • Woo Bum-kon (우범곤), 27

Rampage begins[edit]

At approximately 9:30 p.m., Woo shot his first victim and entered the local post office, where he killed three phone operators and cut off the telephone lines. He next went to Torongni, where he threw a grenade and shot at passers-by in the marketplace, killing six people. He also wounded Chun Mal-soon, who had gone to investigate after hearing shots in the village. 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 their inhabitants.

At 10:30 p.m., Woo took 18-year-old Kim Ju-dong (김주동) hostage and moved to Ungye-Ri (운계리), where he ordered the boy to get him a soft drink from a grocery store owned by 52-year-old Shin We-do (신외도). After getting what he had asked for, Woo killed the boy and then attacked the store owner and his family. Shin We-do managed to escape after being shot in the leg, though his wife Son Won-jeom (손원점) and his daughters Chang-sun (창순) and Su-jeong (수정) were killed.[7] Woo continued his shooting at the market-place, killing a total of 18 people in that village, before making his way towards Pyongchon-Ni (평촌리).

At Pyongchon-Ni, he shot a family of four in their beds and then went to a house, where a wake was in progress. When the owner of the house saw the armed policeman and asked what had happened, Woo explained that there was an alert as North Korean agents had been spotted. The man invited Woo into the house for dinner, during which the latter complained about his small salary and his transfer from Pusan to the countryside. Woo eventually began shooting at the guests after one of them had remarked that his ammunition didn't look real.[clarification needed][citation needed] He killed twelve people in the house and a further eight in the streets, thus leaving a total of 24 people dead in Pyongchon.

Police response, suspect's death[edit]

Although police were alerted within minutes of the first shots being fired, it took them an hour to gather a team of 37 officers to search for the gunman, and the national police headquarters in Seoul were not informed until 1:40 a.m.[8] Around that time, just 2.5 miles from the police station in Kungryu, Woo found refuge in a farmhouse belonging to 68-year-old Suh In-Su (서인수), whom he told that he was chasing a Communist infiltrator, and that the family should gather in the main room of the house so he could protect them. When the family gathered at his request, he held them hostage.

Two hours later, police eventually caught up with him, and as forces closed in, Woo detonated two grenades, killing himself and three of his hostages. Suh himself survived gravely injured.[9] Four rounds of ammunition and one hand grenade were recovered by police from inside the farmhouse.[7]

Immediate aftermath[edit]

When the rampage finally ended, 55 people and Woo himself were dead, while 36 others were wounded, six of them seriously. One of the injured, a child who had been shot, died on May 8, bringing the number of people killed by the gunman to 56. At that time, 35 people were still being treated in hospitals in Jinju and Masan.[10]

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.[3][11]

Aftermath[edit]

The Interior Minister of South Korea, Suh Chung-hwa, and the national police chief, A Eung-mo, offered to resign as a form of atonement for Woo's rampage.[3] Suh Chung-hwa, being held responsible for the incident by president Chun Doo-hwan, laid his office down on April 29, and Roh Tae-woo was appointed Interior Minister.[1][8]

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.[8] Furthermore, the South Korean Cabinet decided to pay compensations to the victims and their families.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]