Arthur Patterson: American In 1997 Seoul Murder Gets 20 Years

January 31, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Arthur Patterson appeared in a Seoul court for the murder of South Korean student Cho Joong-pi/Jo Jung-Pil, and he was found guilty. Patterson has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for randomly killing Joong-pi in a Burger King bathroom.

Arthur Patterson Seoul murder

A Seoul judge found Arthur Patterson guilty of the murder of a 22-year-old South Korean student named Cho Joong-pi/Jo Jung-Pil.

Jo Jung-Pil’s family and the prosecutors were hoping for life in prison, but Judge Shim Kyu-hong decided otherwise because Patterson, a 36-year-old American citizen, committed the crime when he was only 17 years of age. Kyu-hong stated:

“The court decided on a life sentence, but in view of the defendant’s age, of being under 18 at the time, the sentence will be 20 years in prison.”

In 1997, Patterson, the 17-year-old son of an American military contractor in South Korea along with his Korean-American friend, Edward Lee, then 18, were discovered in a Burger King bathroom standing next to the bloody body of Jung-Pil.

Lee and Patterson, who were both using illegal substances, blamed each other for the murder. According to reports, Patterson emerged from the bathroom covered with blood from head to toe and rushed home. Lee had blood sprayed over him and washed his clothes when he got to his house.

Lee said that Patterson used his pocket knife to stab the young man in the chest and neck, while Patterson claimed Lee asked him to watch as he stabbed Jung-Pil. Lee received life in prison for the crime and later 20 years after winning an appeal. However, the Supreme Court overturned the case, citing lack of evidence, Lee was cleared of the murder charge in 1998 and freed from prison.

Patterson served 18 months in prison for lesser charges including obstruction of justice of trying to hide his knife and other evidence and was released in a government amnesty in 1998 and rapidly returned to America. The victim’s mother, Lee Bok-su, worked tirelessly to get authorities to reopen the case, but they always said that they had no idea where Patterson was.

In 2009, the murder was made into a hit movie called The Case of the Itaewon Homicide, which angered the family and public, forcing South Korean prosecutors to take a second look at the case. After a South Korean television station discovered Patterson’s whereabouts in the United States and interviewed him, he was charged in absentia with the student’s murder.

In 2011, Patterson lost his lengthy extradition battle and was arrested and flown back to Seoul to stand trial. Bok-su, whose name sounds like the word revenge in Korean, said:

“I want them both dead. They killed my beloved son just for fun and destroyed my family. And look, they are still shifting the blame to each other.”

Indeed, Patterson still maintains that Lee killed the student.

What are your thoughts on Arthur Patterson, the Seoul murder suspect?


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