2008 Nonhyeon-dong massacre

The Nonhyeon-dong massacre was a mass murder that occurred in the Gangnam-gu ward of Seoul, South Korea on October 20, 2008, when 30-year-old Jeong Sang-jin (정상진) set fire in a goshiwon and slashed several women with a sashimi knife. A total of six people died in the incident and seven more were injured.[1][2] Jeong was sentenced to death on May 12, 2009.[3]

Nonhyeon-dong massacre
LocationNonhyeon, Seoul, South Korea
Coordinates37°30′35″N 127°01′23″E / 37.50975°N 127.023°E / 37.50975; 127.023Coordinates: 37°30′35″N 127°01′23″E / 37.50975°N 127.023°E / 37.50975; 127.023
DateOctober 20, 2008
8:15 a.m.-9:20 a.m. (KST)
Attack type
Arson, stabbing, mass murder
Deaths6 (5 directly)
PerpetratorJeong Sang-jin


At about 8:15 a.m., according to police, Jeong, who lived on the third floor of a four-story gosiwon, a low-cost lodging facility, poured gasoline on his bed and set it ablaze. Dressed all in black, wearing a headlamp, and hiding his face with a balaclava and goggles, he emerged from his smoke-filled room and, armed with a sashimi knife, two fruit-knives strapped to his legs, and a tear gas gun in a belt holster, began slashing and stabbing the residents of the building who were fleeing the fire.

Five people died of the wounds Jeong had inflicted on them with his knife, one woman died when she jumped out of a window in the fourth floor in an attempt to escape, and another seven were injured, four seriously, either by Jeong or the fire. Three of the dead and three of the injured were Chinese citizens. The fire raged in the building for about 30 minutes, before around 100 firefighters finally succeeded in taming the flames.

At 9:20 a.m., Jeong, initially thought to be another victim, was rescued by a fireman from a storage room in the fourth floor where he was hiding. When police noticed his peculiar behavior, Jeong was interrogated at the scene and he confessed to the crime. He was immediately arrested and brought to Gangnam Police Station, where he was charged with homicide and arson.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

The perpetratorEdit

Jeong Sang-jin, originally from Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang Province, moved to Seoul in 2002, where he scratched a living with part-time jobs as food delivery man or parking valet, though as of April 2008 he was unemployed and had to face severe financial difficulties. According to unconfirmed reports, he was convicted eight times, once for skipping an obligatory training for military reservists, for which he was fined of 1.5 million won.

During interrogations, he said he was persecuted since his childhood days and attempted suicide twice during his time at middle school. He claimed that he occasionally suffered from severe headaches since those attempts.[1][6][11][12]


Jeong was in severe financial distress and couldn't pay his rent and mobile phone fees for months prior to the rampage. After his arrest, he stated that he didn't want to live anymore, as everyone looked down on him. It was said that he might have wanted to express his anger towards the rich and high authorities, but as they were difficult targets, he lashed out against those who were at hand.

Further blame was also laid on the film A Bittersweet Life by Kim Jee-woon, which Jeong was said to like.[13][14][15]

Similar incidentsEdit

The incident sparked memories of the Daegu subway fire and the arson of the Namdaemun the same year, as well as the Akihabara massacre that happened just a few months earlier in Japan.[16]

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b "Six dead after fire and stabbing in Gangnam". The Hankyoreh. 2008-10-21. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  2. ^ "Victims and Their Families Suffer Further Indignities". english.chosun.com. 2008-10-23. Archived from the original on August 6, 2009. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  3. ^ South Korean man gets death for stabbing spree, The Times of India (May 12, 2009)
  4. ^ Jae-Soon Chang (2008-10-20). "6 killed in South Korean arson, stabbing spree". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  5. ^ "Arsonist's Murderous Rampage in Seoul". english.chosun.com. 2008-10-21. Archived from the original on October 24, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  6. ^ a b Kim Rahn (2008-10-21). "Arrest Warrant Sought for Arsonist-Killer". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  7. ^ Bae Ji-sook (2008-10-20). "Six Dead in Stabbing Rampage". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  8. ^ "Six Dead In Seoul Stabbing Spree". Sky News. 2008-10-20. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  9. ^ Yang Lifei (2008-10-20). "Third Chinese woman dies after Seoul stabbing spree". Shanghai Daily. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  10. ^ "Chinese embassy confirms 3 Chinese victims in S Korea's knife rampage". Xinhua. 2008-10-21. Archived from the original on August 6, 2009. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  11. ^ Jae-Soon Chang (2008-10-20). "6 killed in South Korean arson, stabbing spree". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2008-10-24. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  12. ^ "Arson-stabbing spree: 6 killed". The Straits Times. 2008-10-21. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  13. ^ "Distress, film motivated SKorea stabbing suspect". International Herald Tribune. 2008-10-21. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  14. ^ "Man Kills Six, Injures Seven in Stabbing Spree". The Dong-A Ilbo. 2008-10-21. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  15. ^ "Arson-stabbing spree: 6 killed". The Straits Times. 2008-10-21. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  16. ^ Byers, David (2008-10-20). "South Korean man kills 6 in stabbing and arson rampage". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2008-10-23.