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Public wants no lenience in brutal stabbing case

Oct 22,2018
More than 780,000 people signed a petition to the Blue House as of Sunday urging severe punishment for a 30-year-old man who fatally stabbed a part-time worker at a Seoul PC bang (internet cafe) last week, and blamed his violence on depression.

The petition, which began last Wednesday, got the highest number of signatures since the online platform was established by the Moon Jae-in Blue House in August 2017, even higher than a petition asking the government to stop accepting refugees on Jeju Island. That earlier petition, which pressed authorities to make drastic changes to the Refugee Act, pulled some 714,000 signatures in total last July.

The tendency of local courts to be more lenient with offenders who were “mentally or physically weak” during their crime, including being under the influence of alcohol or struggling with a psychological disorder, motivated hundreds of thousands of Koreans to ask the judicial branch not to go easy on the young PC-bang stabber.

The case goes back to the morning of Oct. 14, when a 30-year-old customer surnamed Kim asked 21-year-old part-time worker Shin to remove some trash another customer left behind at a PC bang in Gangseo District, western Seoul. According to police, the two men somehow ended up bickering with each other. Officers showed up when Shin called 112. Kim left the internet cafe, but a while later, returned to stab Shin multiple times in the face with a knife. Shin was sent to a nearby hospital but died at 11 a.m. Police said Kim admitted his crime during questioning, saying Shin was “unkind” to him.

Namkoong Ihn, a doctor in the Emergency Medicine Department at Ewha Womans University Medical Center, who treated Shin, said he counted around 30 stab marks on the victim’s face that day, adding there were none on his stomach or chest. “A young person died of bleeding only from his face and hands,” said Namkoong. “Some really intentional and vicious stabs are needed for that to happen.”

Gangseo police said Sunday that Kim will be transported to the National Forensic Psychiatry Hospital in Gongju, South Chungcheong, today for a month-long psychiatric evaluation to verify whether he actually has depression as he claims.

Lee Ju-min, commissioner of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, asked for a thorough investigation on the case last week.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, HONG JI-YU [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]