The Hwaseong serial murders are some of the most infamous crimes in South Korea’s modern history. Between Sept. 15, 1986, and April 3, 1991, a serial killer raped and murdered women in Hwaseong, a rural village in the South Korean province of Gyeonggi. The victims: 10 women aged between 14 to 71 years old. The then-unknown suspect became known as “The Hwaseong Strangler.” Now, over 30 years later, the killer has been identified.
According to The Korean Times, the Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency has “preliminarily” identified the suspect. Local media reported that he is 56-year-old Lee Chun-jae. He was identified after the National Forensic Service (NFS) found DNA on a victim’s underwear which matched his.
Lee is currently in prison for a similar crime, according to the Yonhap news agency. Channel News Asia reported that the suspect is serving a life sentence for raping and murdering his sister-in-law in 1994. This is a crime separate from the Hwaseong serial murders.
More than 2 million police officers investigated the infamous cases, speaking with about 21,000 individuals, between 1986 and 1991 — a record in South Korea. The case was so widely covered by South Korean media that it was even adapted into the hit film Memories of a Murder.
Despite having been identified, Lee cannot be prosecuted for the murders because there is a 15-year statute of limitations for first-degree murders in South Korea. In 2007, this increased to 25 years but was once again returned to 15 years in 2015.