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Chinese criminal gangs battle for Seoul turf

Apr 27,2007
A nascent gang war involving a Chinese crime syndicate in western Seoul surfaced yesterday when police announced the arrest of seven ethnic Koreans from China on charges of organizing a gang and stealing money from bar and karaoke owners. Twenty-five other people also have been investigated, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said.
A 38-year-old former member of the Wo Shing Wo society, a Chinese crime syndicate that originated in Hong Kong, was smuggled into South Korea from Yanbian, China, and organized a gang known as the Yanbian Heuksapa in July 2005 with ethnic Koreans in Garibong-dong, a town in western Seoul populated by many ethnic Koreans from China, according to police. Many of the gang members are illegal aliens.
The group is alleged to have assaulted nine people working at karaoke parlors or bars near the town between October last year and February, extorting a total of 2.8 million won ($3,010) from victims on 10 occasions, according to police.
In December last year, a 46-year-old ethnic Korean from Heilongjiang, China, was stabbed and then had 1 million won stolen by the gang, police said. The victim was a member of another crime gang consisting of ethnic Koreans from Heilongjiang, which was fighting a turf battle with the Chinese gang, police said.
The victim also suffered two broken legs and is still hospitalized, according to police. The boss of the Yanbian Heuksapa was also stabbed in the stomach and seriously injured in December last year by the rival group, police said.
The gang threatens victims by carrying knives or axes. They have also been attempting to connect with local crime gangs in southern Seoul, according to police.
“The reported amount of money snatched by the group is relatively small because victims are too afraid of retaliation by the group to report it,” said a police official. “If they are deported to China, they soon enter the country again by forging personal documents.”


By Kim Soe-jung Staff Writer [soejung@joongang.co.kr]