World & Nation

Gunman in South Korea kills 3, himself; second fatal shooting in 3 days

South Korean police officers investigate the scene of a fatal shooting in Hwaseong on Feb. 27.
(Shin Young-gun / Associated Press)

South Korea was reeling Friday from its second bloody shooting in less than a week, incidents that shocked a nation where gun violence is extremely rare.

Both incidents allegedly centered on disputes over money and involved victims and perpetrators who knew one another well.

Friday’s shooting happened in Hwaseong, a city about an hour south of Seoul. Police said a man armed with a hunting rifle shot and killed his brother, sister-in-law and a police officer before turning the gun on himself.

Guns are legal but not widely used in South Korea. Gun owners store their weapons at the local police station and sign them out for use, which can only be done during hunting season. The alleged gunman in Friday’s shooting reportedly checked his weapon out at the police station that morning, shortly before driving to his brother’s house.


Police were reportedly called to the scene by a woman who told officers that her uncle had entered their home and shot her parents. The woman survived but sustained injuries after jumping from a second-floor window to escape, police said.

The two brothers were apparently well known in their neighborhood for having heated arguments, particularly over financial matters. A police officer investigating the scene told the Kyunghyang newspaper: “The brothers didn’t have a good relationship. Whenever they got together and had any alcohol, one of them would badger the other, demanding money.”

Shootings are uncommon in South Korea, and saying “I’m going to shoot you” is an idiom for offering to treat someone to drinks or a meal. Gun deaths that do occur here usually happen within the military (all able-bodied men must perform about two years of service).

Friday’s incident came just two days after a shooting in Sejong, the administrative capital, where a man killed his ex-girlfriend’s father, brother and current boyfriend. The gunman, identified as a 50-year-old man surnamed Kang, then shot himself to death on the banks of a nearby river, officials said.


Police said Kang had a dispute with his former girlfriend over how to divide property that had been purchased before they broke up a year and a half ago.

Borowiec is a special correspondent.