The Best Korean murder documentaries & where to stream them

Gabriela Silva
The Raincoar Killer, The Hwaseong Murders, and In the Name of God docuseries

Nothing instills more fear than documentaries and docuseries about true-crime stories and serial killers, and theres a few gruesome South Korean murder stories to tell.

While the world has become enthralled by K-dramas and the Hallyu wave, the country has a few dark secrets of heinous serial killers. Die-hard K-drama fans would know that some famous crime series like Voice, and Taxi Driver have been inspired by real-life Korean criminals and murders.

There are many popular Korean movies that do the same. But there are a few documentaries and series that detail the truth behind Korean murder stories like The Raincoat Killer. Audiences will be left in utter dismay at some of Korea’s notorious religious cults and their cover-ups with extortion, murder, and assault.

Netflix has done the job of unveiling the gruesome reality behind killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, and series like Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal. These Korean murder docuseries and documentaries will give audiences a new sense of fear.

Catching a Killer: The Hwaseong Murders centers on the country’s first known killer

The largest manhunt in Korean history occurred when a vicious killer murdered 10 people within the span of four years and Catching a Killer: The Hwaseong Murders documents the investigation.

The Korean murder docuseries has a two-episode run cataloging police efforts to uncover the identity of murders that took place in the rural city of Hwaseong in the 1980s. According to IMDb, “Catching A Killer recaps the twists and turns of the police investigation, the vital evidence that was overlooked, and the emotional trauma felt in a town where locals were scared to leave their homes.”

Part one of the investigation showcases the gravity of the gruesome murders of young women and their sexual assaults. It was not until the fourth victim that police widened their search and investigation to find the culprit. But the biggest shock of the Korean murder docuseries is the man police arrested as the culprit.

Fans will watch as Yoon Sung-yeo was coerced into a confession that led him to be imprisoned for 20 years. Catching a Killer: The Hwaseong Murders also catalogs the 2019 discovery of new evidence from an anonymous tip that would lead to the real killer and the shocking ending.

Catching a Killer: The Hwaseong Murders is available to watch on YouTube on CNA Insiders’ channel.

In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal is a Netflix docuseries about religious cults

In March 2023, Netflix released the docuseries In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal about three powerful cult organizations within South Korea.Their ties to sexual assault in multiple countries, exploitation, and an unsolved murder case.

When watching In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal, the witness accounts of former cult members and the horrors they faced will be an emotional ordeal. The docuseries is divided into four main cult organizations: JMS, run by Jung Myung-seok, the Five Ocean mass suicide case, the Baby Garden cult, and the Manmin Church.

Audiences will be stunned to learn that three of these cults are still up and running within South Korea. Jung Myung-seok founded JMS on college campuses appealing to young members. As he grew in power, he believed himself to be a messiah. Former members and “brides” come forward in In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal to reveal the truth about their experiences with sexual assault and intimidation.

The docuseries spends the most time on JMS due to its lengthy investigation as Jung’s crimes went overseas. The Five Oceans episodes explore the unsolved mystery behind Park Soon-ja’s company. Above all, the shocking discovery by police of a mass suicide of its members and leader. Baby Garden was another infamous Korean church/cult run by Kim Ki-soon. Victims also give testimonies of her abuse of power, sexual assaults, and eventual criminal cases against her.

In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal ends with the still prominent church, Manmin Church. Believing he was a messiah, Lee Jae-rock exploited his members for money and became an international sensation. Let’s not forget the multiple cases of assault. The Korean docuseries does include shrouded murder mysteries.

In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal is available on Netflix.

South Korean killer Yoo Young-chul during his arrest

The Raincoat Killer: Chasing a Predator in Korea

One of South Korea’s worst serial killers in history was Yoo Young-chul. The Netflix docuseries The Raincoat Killer: Chasing a Predator in Korea cataloging how he evaded police.

In 2021, Netflix released its first murder docuseries based on a South Korean serial killer. The Raincoat Killer: Chasing a Predator in Korea was a three-episode series about Yoo’s path of murder. He operated in the early 2000s targeting wealthy elderly and escalating to sex workers.

Yoo was found to have committed 20 murders and was a self-proclaimed cannibal. The docuseries take audiences through the investigation and uncovering the Modus Operandi of the murders. It proved difficult as the murder weapon was specially made by Yoo.

The Raincoat Killer: Chasing a Predator in Korea also explores how Yoo escaped police custody during his first arrest. As well as the negligence on their part throughout the investigation. If wondering why Yoo was tagged “The Raincoat Killer” the docuseries will surprise audiences with the answer.

The Raincoat Killer: Chasing a Predator in Korea is available on Netflix.

You can read more about true-crime docuseries like Scouts Honor here, upcoming documentaries here, and Who Killed Jill Dando? here.