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[Opinion] “Serial Killer”

Posted July. 19, 2004 22:22,   


Robert Ressler, a FBI Behavioral Science Unit agent, coined the term “serial killer” in 1975. Before, what is known as a “serial killer” to us was called a “stranger killer” because the killer’s victims were usually unknown to the killer. But Ressler noticed in some cases, the killer did kill people he knew, so the word “serial” was introduced to describe this kind of killer.

The FBI classifies a killer who kills one person at a time, does it more than three times and takes a break between killings as a serial killer.

▷Around 85 percent of the world’s serial killers are in the U.S. Most serial killer victims are prostitutes or homeless persons, so many cases probably don’t even end up being reported to the police. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of all serial killers are while males in their twenties or thirties.

Serial killer Ted Bundy, who was executed at the electric chair in 1989, lured women into a car with a boat tied on top of it. No one suspected him as a serial killer, because he was so polite and handsome. By the time of his arrest, he murdered somewhere between 23 and 40 women.

▷Serial killers seldom kill for money. They do it for thrills, sexual gratification, or domination of a fantasy world. They develop a kind of an addiction to killing. An analysis says that serial killing is a crime where the killers escape from the reality where they have failed and build an imaginary space to exercise their authority.

An unstable relationship with parents, neurotic depression, emptiness, less or no tolerance for criticism, anger caused from a failing in a society or sexual frustration are the common traits found in serial killers. Fairly successful people do have one or two of these traits, though.

▷Freud said that children could destroy the world if they had an enough power to do so. A serial killer is often compared to a “child adult” who loses his or her opportunity to grow as a normal adult. Most serial killers have similar upbringings where they were not treated properly at home and in society.

Serial Killer Yu Young-cheol, who went to jail about 14 times since his teens, enormously shocked us. I wonder if our society is going to be haunted by fear of a serial killer whom we have only seen in movies.

Hwang Ho-taek, Editorial writer, hthwang@donga.com