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Registered: 10-2008
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Hidden Bombs
Polarizing Society Is Hotbed for Dangerous Psychopaths

Like Japan, Korea's reputation as a traditionally low-crime society has been fading fast recently amid a series of killing sprees.

These ``don't-ask, just-go" murderers neither give specific reasons for their actions, nor care about whomever happens to be their victims or even show much sense of guilt. A 31-year-old man, who killed six people and injured seven others in an arson-murder rampage in southern Seoul Monday, said, ``The society ignored me, so I didn't want to live in it."

The suspect was not insane, because a lunatic cannot plan a crime so carefully as he did. He is a psychopath, one who quietly cherishes an intention ― and prepares ― for a crime without perceiving it as bad. Psychopaths think they are taking revenge on society as a whole. ``I have hated the world and grown tired of life." Said a 25-year-old Japanese man, who went on a killing rampage in Tokyo in June, echoing his Korean counterpart. ``Anyone was O.K. (as my victim)."

These hideous criminals deserve little sympathy and should receive the maximum punishment allowed by law, not least because their victims are mostly ordinary, law-abiding, hard-working people.

What our society should do after the harsh punishment is also self-evident; serious discussion on why these random murders are occurring frequently and how to reduce ― if not abolish ― them. These criminals have one thing in common ― they are largely men between their 20s and 40s with no or very insecure jobs. In short, they are complete ``losers" in this extremely competitive and increasingly polarizing society.

In both Korea and Japan, the appearance of psychopathic killers coincides with the onset of a prolonged economic slump, forcing their governments to turn to the neo-liberalistic economic system marked by cutthroat competition and dwindling social safety nets. The Japanese criminal had been a non-regular worker for eight years, while his Korean counterpart was little better than a day laborer doing various errands.

The economic setback, often called lost decades, also coincided with their shift from traditional collective societies to Western-style individualistic ones, in which people are rapidly becoming islands and even family members and friends at times cannot be of much help in solving one's frustration.

Two things make it all the more difficult to find a solution for psychopathic killings; One is these killers are hard to identify in normal times as they suddenly appear among our neighbors and colleagues. The other is that among similar losers, there are not a few sympathizers to their anger and frustration. As the Japanese killer put it, ``There is a huge reserve corps of criminals."

All this, plus their common motives of ``revenging on society," mean society itself needs to change in such ways as to make even these down-out-and people feel a bit less miserable. Specifically, the government should come up with measures to reverse the accelerating trend for preferring non-regular workers such as part-timers and contract workers among businesses as well as expanding basic social welfare system.

``Capitalism with a human face," though a much worked-out phrase particularly among young idealists, seems to be the only answer to keep our society from falling into a field of hidden bombs
Nov/3/2008, 12:32 pm Link to this post  

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