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South Korea’s Largest Serial Killer Cold Case Gets New Details During Court Testimony

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  • Shocking testimony by Lee Chun-Jae Tuesday detailed the grisly murders he did in the late ’80’s and early ’90s as one of South Korea’s most prolific serial killers.
  • He was testifying during the retrial of a man named Yoon, who was originally accused of killing one of Lee’s 14 victims before DNA evidence later exonerated him.
  • Yoon served all 20 years of his prison sentence and asked for a retrial after that DNA evidence linked the murders to Lee in 2019. Police have since apologized for forcing a confession from Yoon in the ’90s, and if found innocent, Yoon could be compensated for his time.
  • Lee was already in prison for life after raping and killing his sister-in-law in 1994, but won’t face any additional charges as the statute of limitations on his crimes have passed.

Justice for Some

South Koreans are finally getting some closure to a thirty-year long serial killer cold-case after Lee Chun-Jae took the stand during another trial and gave details of some of the ten murders in the Hwaseong Serial Killings.

Lee admitted to the murders in 2019 after retested DNA evidence linked him to three of the ten victims in Hwaseong, including one victim whose alleged killer had already served a prison sentence for the crime.

Those killings took place between the late ’80s to early ’90s and led to the largest police investigation in South Korean history. Over 20,000 people were investigated into the killings. They also inspired a 2003 film by Parasite director Bong Joon-ho titled “Memories of Murder.”

Video from the investigation into the Hwaseong killings. Source: KBS

In the middle of the killings, a man named Yoon was accused of murdering victim No.8, 14-year-old Park Sang-hee. South Korean law only allows his surname to be revealed, as he’s currently in a retrial over the matter. Police initially determined that Yoon’s killing was a copycat murder, and Yoon confessed to the killing in order to avoid the death penalty. He served 20 years in prison and was released in 2009 on parole.

After his trial, two more victims would appear before the killings stopped.

“I Still Don’t Understand Why I Wasn’t a Suspect”

In 2019, Lee confessed to not only killing all ten women in Hwaseong, but also to killing 14 in total and raping, or attempting to rape, 34 women. His confession led to police verifying his claims and reaching a provisional conclusion that Yoon did not kill Park Sang-hee and was falsely imprisoned.

Police also apologized to Yoon for their treatment of him, after it was revealed that he was denied sleep and abused while in custody in order to gain a false confession; a common practice in South Korea at that time period.

Yoon soon demanded a retrial to clear his name and conviction. If found innocent he can be compensated for the 20-years he spent in prison. During Yoon’s retrial, which started this week, Lee took the stand and gave grim details about his crimes, including how he killed Park. Courtroom reporters say that he was emotionless during the entire testimony.

However, Lee did apologize to the victims’ families and Lee, saying, “I am the real criminal.”

“I sincerely apologize to Mr. Yoon, who was falsely charged with the killing I committed and served prison time. I wish for the eternal rest of the victims and apologize to the bereaved families and all those involved in the cases.”

He also added during his testimony that he assumed he’d be caught early into the investigation, saying, “I didn’t think the crimes would be buried forever.” He added, “I still don’t understand (why I wasn’t a suspect). Crimes happened around me and I didn’t try hard to hide things so I thought I would get caught easily. There were hundreds of police forces. I bumped into detectives all the time but they always asked me about people around me.”

Lee’s DNA was only available to investigators because he was already serving a life sentence for raping and killing his sister-in-law in 1994. For many Koreans, the most shocking aspect of the case was that Lee would see no further punishment for his 14 killings or 34 rapes and attempted rapes.

The statute of limitations on his last crime passed in 2006.

See What Others Are Saying: (Yonhap News) (Korea Herald) (Chosun Ilbo)

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Police Arrest Hong Kong Man for Booing Chinese National Anthem

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The man’s boos were launched during the first time the Chinese national anthem had ever been played for a Hong Kong athlete at the Olympics.


Instulting the Anthem

Hong Kong authorities announced Friday that a man was arrested for allegedly booing and “insulting” the Chinese national anthem while watching the Olympics on Monday.

The unnamed 40-year-old, who identified himself as a journalist, was allegedly watching the Olympics fencing medal ceremony for Hong Konger Edgar Cheung at a local mall. When the anthem began playing, he allegedly began booing and chanted “We are Hong Kong!” while waving a British Hong Kong Colonial flag.

The man’s actions were particularly noteworthy because it was the first time the Chinese national anthem had been played for a Hong Kong athlete in the Olympics. Hong Kongers compete at the Games under a separate committee called Hong Kong, China. The last time a Hong Konger won gold was in 1996 for windsurfing, at which time the British anthem of “God Save the Queen” was played.

Concerns for Freedom of Speech

The man is suspected of breaking the relatively new National Anthem Ordinance, which was passed in June 2020, and has a penalty of up to three years in prison and fines of $6,000 for anyone who publicly and intentionally insults the anthem. The law mirrors one in mainland China, but it has faced considerable scrutiny from increasingly persecuted pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong.

They argue that it tramples the right to free speech, which is supposed to be enshrined in the city’s Basic Law. Hong Kong police, however, say that’s not the case and claim that his actions breach common restraints on freedom of speech. Senior Superintendent Eileen Chung said that his actions were “to stir up the hostility of those on the scene and to politicize the sport.”

Police issued a warning that it would investigate reports of others joining his chants or violating the separate National Security law passed last year.

This incident isn’t the only case of alleged politicization of the Games. Badminton player Angus Ng was accused by a pro-Beijing lawmaker of making a statement by sporting a black jersey with the territory’s emblem. The imagery was very similar to the black-and-white Hong Kong flag used by anti-government protesters.

Ng countered that he wore his own clothes to the event because he didn’t have sponsorships to provide jerseys and he wasn’t authorized to print the emblem on a jersey himself.

See what others are saying: (Inside) (Al Jazeera) (CNN)

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Canadian Catholic Priest Says Residential Schools Survivors Lied About Abuse

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The Roman Catholic Church is facing considerable backlash across Canada for its treatment of indigenous peoples in the residential school system, along with its subsequent efforts to downplay the problem.


Priest Sparks Outrage

Father Rheal Forest was put on forced leave Wednesday following remarks he made over a weeks-long period starting July 10 in which he doubted victims of the country’s infamous residential school system.

Residential schools were a system of schools largely for indigenous children that were mostly run by the Catholic Church with federal government funding. The schools were notoriously cruel and long faced allegations that children had been abused or went missing under their care.

To date, over 1,300 unmarked graves have been found at four former residential schools across Canada, a fraction of the over 130 that used to exist.

Forest, of the St. Boniface archdiocese in Winnipeg, was standing in for a couple of weeks while the main priest at his church was away. During that time, Forest told parishioners that victims of the residential schools, particularly those sexually abused, had lied.

“If [the victims] wanted extra money, from the money that was given to them, they had to lie sometimes — lie that they were abused sexually and, oop, another $50,000,” he said.

“It’s kind of hard if you’re poor not to lie.”

In that same sermon, he also added that during his time with Inuit groups in the north of the country, most had allegedly said they appreciated the residential school system. Instead, he said they blamed any abuses on lay people working at the facilities rather than priests or nuns.

Forest’s comments drew a ton of backlash, prompting the archdiocese to place Forest on leave. A spokesperson for the archdiocese said that the institution “completely disavow” Forest’s comments, adding, “We very much regret the pain they may have caused to many people, not least of course Indigenous people and, more specifically, survivors of the Residential School system.”

Overall, the archdiocese has attempted to apologize to indigenous communities for its part in the residential school system, with Archbishop Albert Legatt saying in a video that the way forward was by “acknowledging, apologizing, and acting” on terms set by indigenous groups.

Church Allegedly Kept Money From Victims

Forest’s views and subsequent dismissal aren’t the only public relations scandal the Roman Catholic Church faces in Canada.

According to documents obtained by CBC News, the Church spent over a decade avoiding paying out money to survivors per a 2005 agreement. At the time, it, alongside the protestant churches that also ran some residential schools, agreed to pay an amount to victims of the schools in the tens of millions.

Instead, according to an internal summary of 2015 court documents, the Catholic Church spent much of that money on lawyers, administration, a private fundraising company, and unapproved loans. It seems that some of this was technically legal, such as a promise to give tens of millions back via “in-kind” services; however, there was no audit completed to confirm that these services actually happened or to prove the alleged value of the services. This led to doubts about whether or not they were done effectively.

The Catholic Church was unique among the signatory churches in the 2005 agreement with its efforts to avoid paying victims. All of the other denominations paid out their sums many years before without issues.

While priests such as Father Forest have supported the Church, there has been internal backlash. Father André Poilièvre, a Saskatoon priest and Order of Canada recipient, said the Church’s actions are “scandalous” and “really shameful,” adding, “It was a loophole. It might be legal, but it’s not ethical.”

With these latest revelations, widespread anger at the Church has triggered allegations that indigenous groups are behind a spree of church burnings across the country.

The entire situation is likely going to continue to smolder as a government commission set up to investigate the schools estimates there will be thousands of more unmarked graves found across Canada.

See what others are saying: (CBC News) (The Guardian) (CTV News)

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Tokyo Sets Back-to-Back Records for Number of Daily COVID-19 Cases

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Some positive cases were detected among people attending the Olympic Games, including a handful of athletes.


Cases Going Up

The Tokyo Olympic Games found itself in more controversy on Wednesday after Tokyo experienced a record number of daily COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row.

On Tuesday, the city recorded 2,848 new cases of the virus, passing the 2,500 daily new case threshold for the first time since the pandemic began. Then on Wednesday, it shattered the record again with 3,177 new COVID-19 cases.

At least 155 of those new cases were detected among people attending the Games, including a handful of athletes, which contrasts Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide’s promise that the Olympics wouldn’t be hit with the virus. The spike in new cases has largely been attributed to the delta-variant, something that many countries are dealing with around the world.

Nishimura Yasutoshi, a Japanese economic minister, told a parliamentary panel this week that COVID-19 cases are expected to continue rising for at least a few days. He also explained that many people may have delayed getting tested last week due to holidays, therefore inflating total daily new case numbers.

Governors in prefectures around Tokyo have moved to ask the government for states-of-emergency, which Tokyo is already under.

Doubts About Government Response

The prime minister said in a press conference on Tuesday that “the government has secured a new drug that reduces the risk of serious illness by 70 percent,” adding, “we have confirmed that this drug will be used thoroughly from now on.”

However, he never actually mentioned what drug he was referencing.

“In any case, under these circumstances, I would like to ask the people to avoid going out unnecessarily and to watch the Olympics and Paralympics on TV,” Suga continued.

He also stressed that canceling the Olympics amid the outbreak was completely out of the question, although there have been continued calls from the public and opposition lawmakers for just that.

Beyond refusing to cancel the Games, Suga is facing backlash for refusing to enact strict state-of-emergency protocols. Currently, the measures in Tokyo are almost all voluntary and consist of asking people to stay home, along with requesting restaurants that serve alcohol to completely close and telling all others to shut down by 8 p.m.

See what others are saying: (Reuters) (NPR) (The Wall Street Journal)

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