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Sindang Station murder suspect unmasked

Jeon Joo-hwan, the 31-year-old suspect in the Sindang Station murder (Yonhap)
Jeon Joo-hwan, the 31-year-old suspect in the Sindang Station murder (Yonhap)

Police on Monday disclosed the personal information of Jeon Joo-hwan as the suspect in the murder of a Seoul Metro employee.

The identity of a criminal suspect usually is not made public in Korea, but can be disclosed if there is sufficient evidence to prove the suspect’s guilt and it is in the public interest. The police held a committee to review the disclosure on Monday and decided to release the name, age and picture of the suspect.

"The victim was brutally murdered by a premeditated plan in a public place. The seriousness and cruelty of the crime are recognized and there is sufficient evidence," according to police. Police will no longer take measures to cover Jeon’s face in front of media, and are also considering revealing his entire face without a mask when sending Jeon to the prosecution.

Jeon, a 31-year-old former Seoul Metro employee, was apprehended Wednesday after allegedly stabbing his former colleague to death at a restroom in Sindang Station on Line No. 2.

The case shocked the nation as it was revealed that the suspect had already been sued twice for stalking the victim in the last three years, illegally filming and blackmailing her. He was dismissed from his job after being sued for threatening and forcing the victim to meet him, but continued stalking her.

The prosecution had sought nine years in prison, but no restraining order or other measures to protect the victim were in place. The victim was attacked one day before the court was to sentence Jeon on charges of stalking.

Jeon is reportedly claiming that the death of the victim was the result of an impulsive action, but according to police, the suspect has planned the crime at least as far back as 11 days.

Jeon used the internal network of the Seoul Metro at Gusan Station on Subway Line No. 6 on Sept. 3 to check the victim's workplace, saying that he was an employee of another station on vacation.

About six hours before the crime, Jeon visited a psychiatric hospital. Later, he visited the victim's previous residence, and followed a woman who looked similar to the victim for seven minutes. He also installed an application on his phone that manipulates GPS information as an attempt to conceal his location.

Jeon wore a disposable cap at the time of the crime, supposedly to prevent the victim or other station employees from recognizing him, according to police.

Police have changed Jeon's charges from murder to retaliatory murder, which increases the possible sentence from five or more years in prison to 10-plus years in prison.

The case has reignited the issue of poor management of stalking crimes in the country, in terms of both punishing offenders and protecting victims.

President Yoon Suk-yeol ordered countermeasures to prevent further stalking crimes on Friday. On the same day, the Justice Ministry announced a plan to amend the anti-stalking law to allow the prosecution of perpetrators without victims’ consent, which had been another ongoing issue regarding stalking crimes. Experts also argue that the possibility of retaliation should be included as a standard for issuing arrest warrants, along with the current standards, which include the possibility of destroying evidence and fleeing.



By Lee Jung-Youn (jy@heraldcorp.com)
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