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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Police release photo, identity of Sillim Station stabber

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Jo Seon [YONHAP]
Jo Seon [YONHAP]

The man who went on a stabbing rampage near Sillim Station in Gwanak District, southern Seoul, last Friday, killing one and injuring three others, has been identified as 33-year-old Jo Seon.

Police on Wednesday publicly revealed Jo’s full name, age and face, saying the decision was based on the “brutality and gravity of the harm” he inflicted by using a weapon to murder or attempt to murder the four victims in public.

The suspect’s acknowledgment of the crime as well as CCTV footage were also taken into consideration, said police.

Jo’s resident registration card photo along with a recent CCTV screenshot were released.

The last time police disclosed the identity of a criminal suspect, they only released a resident registration card photo, prompting speculation from critics that the photo was digitally enhanced.

Police said Jo didn’t have a stable job and usually relied on temporary work throughout his adult years, working as a delivery driver one day and a construction worker the next.

Both his parents are alive but haven’t kept in touch with Jo since he was little. Jo was said to have been close to his grandmother.

Jo, who’s a Korean national, had three offenses on his criminal record. When he was younger, he was sent to juvenile court 14 times.

Police said they found no record of mental illness for Jo from 2013, which was the furthest they could search.

Three profilers conducted a psychopathy diagnostic test on Jo on Tuesday.

Jo’s acquaintances have told police that the suspect was “always lonely” and splurged most of his money on alcohol and gambling.

One acquaintance who worked with Jo as a delivery driver at a restaurant in Incheon 10 years ago said he wasn’t aware Jo was a criminal offender and that he seemed to be normal except when he was drunk.

Police quoted the acquaintance as saying that Jo would occasionally beg colleagues to have a drink with him, even those whom he wasn’t close to.

Whenever the topic of family was brought up in a conversation, he looked particularly melancholy, said the former coworker.

During investigations, Jo reportedly told police that he felt “inferior” due to his short height and envied taller men who were of similar age.

Jo’s stabbing rampage began at around 2:07 p.m. last Friday at a bustling street near Exit 4 of Sillim Station when he stabbed a man in his 20s 13 times, eventually killing him.

Three other men, all in their 30s, were stabbed but survived the attacks. None have life-threatening injuries.

When he was caught by police, Jo said he committed the crime out of anger and wanted others to feel miserable like himself.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]