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Posted : 2008-10-21 18:18
Updated : 2008-10-21 18:18

Arrest Warrant Sought for Arsonist-Killer

By Kim Rahn
Staff Reporter

An arrest warrant was sought for the 31-year-old man who set fire to a crammed ``gosiwon'' residence Monday and killed six residents as they tried to escape, police said Tuesday.

Autopsies were conducted on the victims. The suspect, identified only as Jeong, set fire to the low-cost lodging house in southern Seoul, and stabbed those who ran out of the building trying to escape the flames. Five died from stab wounds, while one died after jumping out of a window on the fourth floor to avoid being attacked, according to police. Seven others were severely injured.

Jeong was unemployed and had eight prior convictions. Living as a day laborer, he failed to pay his rent, cell phone fees, and owed 1.5 million won in fines for skipping reserve military training. He told police that the world looked down on him and he did not want to live anymore.

A police officer said that Jeong did not remember his crime in detail, but that he had prepared the weapon and wore black clothes, hinting that he planned the killings.

``Police will investigate the details of the crime, as well as examine whether Jeong was under the influence of drugs,'' the officer said.

Similar to this case the number of random attacks on people is on the rise, especially during this economic slowdown.

In August, a 25-year-old man killed a 41-year-old man on the street in northern Seoul. He told police that he just wanted to kill people. In July, a 36-year-old man stabbed a civil servant at a ward office in Donghae, Gangwon Province, because he did not like society. In 2003, a man set alight a subway train in Daegu, killing nearly 200 people.

According to the National Police Agency, in 2007 544 people were detained for assault and 813 for committing arson out of impulse or discontent with society.

Experts say the recent crimes show the stereotypical ``indiscriminate killing'' by unknown assailants who are socially alienated and have a grudge against society.

``Such crimes are usually committed by psychopaths who have difficulty in adapting themselves to society, live alone and have failed in their relationships with family or lovers,'' said Lee Soo-jung, a criminal psychology professor at Kyonggi University.

He said the government should come up with measures to counter the reckless and indiscriminate killing by these people who bear a grudge against society.

Lee said Jeong's case is similar to those that have occurred in Japan in recent months. In June, a 25-year-old man killed seven people and wounded another 10 in Akihabara, Tokyo. ``I came to Akihabara to kill people. It didn't matter who they were,'' the man was quoted as saying by Japanese media.

rahnita@koreatimes.co.kr

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