Second Mass Stabbing in a Month in South Korea
In South Korea, a troubling incident occurred on a Thursday in Seongnam, where a man drove his car onto a sidewalk and proceeded to stab people at a shopping mall. This shocking event resulted in at least 14 individuals being wounded, marking the second mass stabbing incident in the country within a month.
The assailant’s rampage began with him using his car as a weapon, injuring at least five people. Afterward, he exited the vehicle and commenced a stabbing spree, targeting nine others. The attacks transpired in a bustling leisure district near a subway station.
Authorities swiftly apprehended a 22-year-old suspect at the scene and initiated questioning. However, they did not disclose his identity or provide immediate insights into his possible motives.
During police interviews, the suspect appeared to speak incoherently and claimed to be stalked by an unspecified source. His family informed the police that he had a history of mental illness. While the suspect had purchased two knives the day before the attacks, there is no conclusive evidence suggesting premeditation at this stage, according to Park Gyeong-won, an official at Gyeonggi’s Bundang district police station.
In response to these unsettling events, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol called for enhanced vigilance on social media to detect potential threats. He proposed deploying more law enforcement officers for prevention efforts and equipping them with better suppression gear, as outlined by Seoul’s presidential office.
Among the injured, at least two individuals who were struck by the car were in critical condition, as confirmed by Ha Dong-Geun, an official at Gyeonggi’s provincial fire department. Eight of the nine stabbing victims were receiving treatment for injuries considered serious.
Photos from the crime scene depicted forensic units inspecting the AK Plaza, where the stabbings occurred. A white Kia hatchback with a damaged front window and a flat front tire was visible on the sidewalk near the subway station.
South Korea’s Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper released a video sent by a witness, showing a man in sunglasses and a black hoodie ascending an escalator inside the mall while holding an object.
A witness named Hwang Hee-woon recounted his experience to YTN television, stating that he heard what sounded like a scream emanating from the first floor. Consequently, customers and store employees gathered near the second-floor railing adjacent to the escalator to assess the situation. However, as news spread that the perpetrator was heading to the second floor, panic ensued, prompting Hwang and others to flee. He ultimately sought refuge inside a refrigerated storage room with some mall employees.
This tragic incident is not an isolated event in South Korea. Just one month prior, a man armed with a knife stabbed at least four pedestrians on a street in the capital, Seoul, resulting in one fatality.
In response to these disturbing occurrences, the National Police Agency held an online meeting with regional police chiefs to explore strategies for addressing random attacks, such as stabbings. Officials discussed the possibility of increasing nighttime patrols in leisure districts and other crowded areas and bolstering security camera surveillance.
In conclusion, South Korea has witnessed another distressing act of violence, with a man driving his car into pedestrians before embarking on a stabbing spree at a shopping mall. Mental health issues appear to be a significant factor in this incident, as the suspect had a history of mental illness. The government is considering various measures to enhance security and prevent similar incidents in the future, including increased monitoring of social media and strengthened law enforcement presence in crowded areas. This tragic event serves as a stark reminder of the importance of mental health support and proactive security measures in society.