For the World Better to Live
For the World Better to Live
  • Hwang Hong Yuhwa
  • 승인 2009.11.05 20:22
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Last August to September, MBC televised the well-received thriller drama Hon which was not only dealing with horror scenario but also with criminal investigation. The synopsis of the drama is about revenge of a girl who was murdered and the girl’s spirit avenged the death through possessing another woman. To cope with this criminal event, a profiler and forensic psychiatrists do their best. Although the synopsis is little unrealistic, scientific factors such as Forensic Psychology and Criminal Psychology are enough to be interesting. The Sookmyung Times (SMT) in this issue is going to report about Criminal Psychology and profiling.

SMT What is profiling?

PYO The job profiler has come to be known by the movies The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and The Bone Collector (1999).  The history of profiling goes back to the early nineteenth century, but profiling as understood today started when the Department of Behavioral Sciences appeared in the FBI in the 1970s.  From the 1960s, crimes that are hard to solve with traditional investigation appeared, such as serial killing, and this circumstance led to the development of the job of profilers.  To profile, a profiler needs a database such as Vi-CAP (Violent Criminal
Apprehension Program) in the U.S..  In the database, there are lists of victim’s characteristics, murder weapons, and methods of covering up which were solved in the past.  If serial killing occurs, a profiler searches the database to detect similar events and grasps the characteristics of the criminal.  This is used in the police’s investigation.

SMT Is there any immutable law when profilers are investigating?

PYO In criminal psychology, it’s always important to realize that every event is new and there is no same event even if the crime is done by the same person.  Even if it’s the same crime, the criminal’s special qualities could be totally different.  There is a good example for this principle.  In the 1960s in Boston, U.S., James A. Brussel, one of the great profilers of the day, profiled a number of crimes such as serial sex murder, robbery, and murder.  There was a serious crime in Boston at that time which made many women tremble with fear.  Dr. Brussel profiled the criminal’s special qualities by using the cases of the past that looked similar.  But the criminal, Albert DeSalvo, was come to light as he had completely different characteristics.  Dr. Brussel quit profiling in acknowledgment of his failure.  As you can see, existing data is important, but it’s no more than reference and this is the reason why we need professional profilers who are educated systemically.  The National Police Agency of Korea also is supporting to construct the database called SCAS (Scientific Crime Analysis System) and also to train professional profilers.

SMT Is Criminal Psychology applied widely in Korea, too?

PYO The first profiler was Kwon Il Yong, of the Korea Police Scientific Investigation, who studied the FBI’s profiling text book and criminal psychology books alone as an instruction from failure of the Hwaseong serial killing which struck Koreans with terror from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. With a strong intention of never seeing that again, he interviewed violent felons such as rapists and murderers. In 2004, after an arrest of serial killer Yu Young Chul, The National Police Agency of Korea began employing people who have a degree of psychology and
sociology as profilers and training them to be professionals.  Last February, profilers played an important role in the arrest of serial killer Kang Ho Sun.  Profilers are mostly in the National Institute of Scientific Investigation, and in universities to train other profilers, and when a violent crime occurs, they collaborate with police to solve a criminal act as fast as possible.

Recommended Book

Serial Killing in Korea by Pyo Chang Won


This book is about notorious devilish homicide.  In the book, you can find psychological examinations of crimes and how the crime acts are solved in Korea, from the first serial killing that occurred in Korea to the recent crimes of Yu Young Cheol.  It explains how Korean society affected individual criminals and you can also find the process of investigation using criminal psychology.

Recommended Movie

Zodiac (2007)

This movie is usually compared with Memories of Murder (2003). The movie is about the serial murderer in the late 1960s in Northern California. His identity is still unknown.  The name ‘Zodiac’ is derived from his letter he sent to the press to ridicule the government.


Pyo Chang Won
Graduated from Korea National Police University
Graduated from Department of Police Studies of Graduated School, Exter University
Professor of Korea National Police University from 2001

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