asian serial killers

Warning: This article contains extensive discussions of serial killers, violence, abuse, sex and sexual assault, cannibalism, self-harm, sexism, and other sensitive topics which may not be listed. Please be advised.

Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and the Zodiac Killer are household names familiar to any murderino (or to anyone who has watched even three episodes of CRIMINAL MINDS). These infamous serial killers have inspired countless works of popular culture, with every grizzly detail of their murders broadcasted and re-imagined to the whole world.

But serial killers come from all walks of life — they are not all white men in their mid to late twenties. To dispel this popular myth, we’re turning our eyes east to profile 5 Asian serial killers any murderino should know. As usual, rape, cannibalism, and shamanism are all par for the course.

As a note before we get started: I want to make it explicitly clear that this article is in no way meant to glorify any of the terrible, horrible, no-good people discussed below.

Their crimes are heinous and should be regarded as such.

1. Charles Ng

serial killers
Image: Charles Ng’s 1982 mugshot

Although he has the lowest potential victim count, Charles Ng Chi-Tat is probably the most well-known serial killer on this list. Along with his more famed accomplice Leonard Lake, the Hong Kong native is believed to have raped, tortured, and murdered between 11 and 25 victims in a Calaveras Cabin, 150 miles east of San Francisco, from 1983 to 1985. In that cabin, he and Lake raped and tortured several women and killed the men and children that came their way.

Video evidence and Lake’s own extensive diaries implicated Ng in the long list of crimes levied against him, but his trial was delayed by several malpractice suits and pretrial stalling techniques. Once the trial began, the testimonies of several witnesses complicated Ng’s case. A psychiatrist and psychologist both testified that Ng had Dependent Personality Disorder. They suggested that he was attempting to mirror and please Lake, and that Lake was the main perpetrator of the rape and torture.

The testimonies of several other witnesses also seemed to support this diagnosis. All the witnesses claimed that Ng was quiet and well-behaved and was a model prisoner. His own parents even took the stand to recount the abuse Ng suffered at their hands and to express remorse for the way they treated their son.

serial killers
Image: Charles Ng in San Quentin State Prison

Was Justice Served?

Ultimately, Ng was convicted on 11 counts of murder in 1999 and is currently on death row at San Quentin State Prison. The craziest part of Ng’s story is that he probably would have escaped punishment were it not for his chronic kleptomania.

Around the time Lake was arrested, Ng had successfully fled to Canada where he lived in hiding. His kleptomania, however, compelled him to steal a can of salmon from a grocery store in Canada. He was subsequently caught by officials and extradited back to California.

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2. Wang Qiang

serial killers
Image: Wang Qiang? Disclaimer: So little is known about this serial killer, I can’t even find a verified photo of him. Most of my research, however, leads me to this image.

For someone with 45 confirmed victims and 60+ potential victims, very little is known about the next entry on this list, Wang Qiang. Wang hailed from the Kuandian Manchu Autonomous County in Liaoning, China. His abusive and drunk father forbade Wang from ever entering school.

Wang began his killing spree on January 22, 1995. This continued until July 14, 2003, when he was arrested by the police. During the trial, outlets reported that he never seemed to show any emotions — neither guilt, remorse, pleasure, or even anger.

All in all, Wang confessed to 45 murders, mostly women, and was additionally convicted on ten counts of rape, some of which took place post-mortem (read: necrophilia). Many of his victims were young girls. Over a span of nine years, Wang made a name for himself as one of the most notorious murderers and rapists in Chinese history, placing himself right beside figures like Yang Xinhai, Peng Miaoji, Ding Yunjia, Su Xiaoping, Long Zhimin, Yan Shuxia, Bian Kuang, Fu Xinyuan, and Luo Lianshun.

He was executed in 2005.

3. Yoo Young-Chul

serial killers
Image: Yoo Young-Chul in police custody

This South Korean serial killer has been dubbed the “Korean Hannibal.”

Unlike Ng, Yoo’s murder trial was reasonably straightforward. He confessed to murdering 26 people, although police were only able to link him to 21 and he was only convicted of 20. His modus operandi?

“Women shouldn’t be sluts, and the rich should know what they’ve done.”

Yoo grew up poor with blue-collar parents and, according to prosecutors, this was the reason he resented the wealthy. Before his string of murders, he served time for theft, selling child pornography, forgery, identity theft, and child rape. Starting in September 2003, he began bludgeoning wealthy senior citizens to death in their home.

Although he staged the murders to look like robbery-homicides, no money or notable possessions were taken, confusing investigators. In March 2004, Yoo’s victim profile changed after an ex-lover, who worked as a masseuse, left him, and he began bludgeoning female prostitutes to death in his home after having sex with them. Afterward, Yoo mutilated and dismembered the women, burying them in the mountains behind Bongwon Temple in Seoul.

serial killers
Image: Portrait of Yoo Young-Chul

It Was Only a Matter of Time

Yoo was finally arrested in July 2004 after the owner of the massage parlor Yoo was targeting became suspicious of him and notified police. The owner arraigned to meet Yoo at an agreed-upon location and gathered several employees and a police officer to accompany him to the rendezvous. The police officer, however, left before Yoo arrived. So, when Yoo showed up — in an incredible example of a citizen’s arrest — Yoo was apprehended by the masseuses, not the police. A different police officer arrived later to arrest Yoo formally.

As for what triggered Yoo’s initial homicidal turn? The man himself said that he was inspired by fellow Korean serial killer Jeong Du-yeong. Police also found movies such as PUBLIC ENEMY, VERY BAD THINGS, and NORMAL LIFE in his apartment. While awaiting his trial, Yoo confessed to eating the flesh and livers of his victims. This has yet to be confirmed, however, and no evidence to prove this has been uncovered. In the end, Yoo was sentenced to death in December 2004, a punishment for which Yoo said, “Thank you.”

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4. Ahmad Suradji

serial killers
Image: Ahmad Suradji on trial after converting to Islam

This next one is just plain weird. It’s with Ahmad Suradji that shamanism and black magic enter the mix. Between 1986 to 1997, this Indonesian ritual murderer killed 42 women and buried them systematically in a sugarcane plantation near his home. His potential victim count, however, is upward of 80 people. All the victims were buried with their heads facing Suradji’s house.

Suradji believed he was a shaman. He claims that his father’s ghost instructed him to drink the saliva of 70 dead young women to enhance his magical powers. His decision to kill, however, was all his own doing. In a later interview, he said it would have taken too long to simply chance upon 70 dead women.

His Methods Were Magical

As a respected member of the community and a shaman, women often came to him for spiritual advice. This made Suradji’s nefarious goal all the easier. Suradji would bury the women in the sugarcane field up to their waist, claiming it was part of the ritual, before strangling them to death. He would then drink their saliva and bury them naked to accelerate decomposition.

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Image: Ahmad Suradji on trial

He was finally arrested after a body was discovered near his home. It was the body of one of his last victims, 21-year-old Sri Kemala Dewi. Dewi’s belongings were found in Suradji’s home. Suradji was arrested, and the other 41 bodies were excavated. His three wives, who were sisters, were also arrested.

Only one of them, Tumini, was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment. In a bizarre twist to an already bizarre story, Suradji became a devout Muslim while in prison. Suradji was tried, convicted, and executed by firing squad. His last wish was to see Tumini before he died, a wish that was mercifully granted.

The final kicker? Suradji would charge his victims for his magical services before killing them.

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5. Yang Xinhai

serial killers
Image: Yang Xinhai in police custody

Yang Xinhai comes in at #5 on this list for a reason. He’s the 5th most prolific serial killer in the world.* His known victim count? 67.

Not much is known about Yang’s life. He was born in Henan Province, China, and grew up in one of the poorest families in the village. His parents described him as a quiet but clever boy. At 20 and then again at 23, Yang was convicted of theft and sent to labor camps as punishment. He also served five years in prison for attempted rape.

From 1999 to 2003, the “Monster Killer” of China confessed to killing 67 men, women, and children, and raping 23 of them. To carry out his crimes, Yang would break into people’s homes and kill everyone inside using a range of tools. He used everything from the humble hammer to the mighty ax.

Despite the seemingly carefree attitude he adopted when choosing a murder weapon, Yang was methodical in his murderous approach. Each time, he wore new clothes and shoes of different sizes.

serial killers
Image: Yang Xinhai being questioned by police

So, What Was His Motive?

There are conflicting reports. Some say it was fueled by a bad breakup with a girlfriend. Some say it was just the desire to kill and the joy Yang derived from it. His true motive remains a mystery.

Yang was finally arrested on November 3, 2003. Police detained him for acting suspiciously during a routine police inspection of an entertainment venue in Hebei. While in custody, officials learned he was wanted for murder in four provinces.

Yang eventually confessed to 65 murders and the rapes. Police also matched DNA from several crime scenes to Yang. Later testing revealed that Yang contracted HIV from one of his victims. The overwhelming evidence led to Yang’s conviction on 67 counts of murder and 23 counts of rape.

Yang was executed only 13 days later by firing squad, on Valentine’s Day.

*Among modern serial killers with a verifiable murder count who worked alone and who were not in the medical field, were not war criminals, and were not members of democidal governments.

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