Rha Sung-jong
Rha Sung-jong
Background information
Occupation Soldier
Born ca. 1951

May 11, 1973(1973-05-11) (aged 22)
Jeonju, South Korea

Cause of death Suicide
Attack information
Date May 11, 1973
3 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Location(s) Seoul & Jeonju, South Korea
Killed 7
Injured 1
Weapon(s) M2 carbine

Rha Sung-jong (Korean: 나성종) was a South Korean army soldier who killed seven people and wounded another in Seoul and Jeonju, South Korea on May 11, 1973, before committing suicide.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]


During his second middle school year in Jeonju, some time around 1966, or 1967, Rha was expelled for smoking, drinking and violent behaviour. afterwards hang out with thugs, and had been in prison three times, on one occasion for rape. He enlisted in the army on February 14, 1973 and one month prior to the shooting was assigned to a unit stationed in the Seoul area.[8][9]


On the morning of May 11, 1973, between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., Pfc. Rha deserted his army post. Armed with an M2 carbine and 60 rounds of ammunition the 22-year-old stopped the taxi of Choi Kyo-su and commanded him at gunpoint to drive him to Jeonju, his home town, about 120 miles to the south.[8]

While travelling on the main expressway south of Seoul, Rha killed Choi, causing the vehicle to crash into a ditch, and then ran back to the road, where he stopped another car. After killing passenger Choi Chong-sam he ordered the driver to take him to Jeonju, but at one point the car was brought to a halt, probably because of a mechanical failure. The driver used the opportunity to escape, whereupon Rha stopped yet another car, ordering both, the driver and passenger Chon Sok-won, to step out and line up at the roadside. After shooting and seriously wounding Chon, he ordered the driver back into the car and demanded to be brought to Jeonju.[8]

Arriving there at about 6:30 a.m. the vehicle was stopped at an intersection by a policeman. Rha jumped out and ran into a nearby tea room, where he opened fire immediately, killed four customers, and ordered a male employee to barricade the doors and windows, while three hostesses managed to escape through a side door.[8]

Soon about 200 police officers and army sharpshooters arrived at the scene, cordoned off the area, and started to negotiate with the soldier, who refused to leave the building. Shortly after 11 a.m. Rha eventually killed the employee, and then fatally shot himself thrice in the body. Allegations that he was killed by sniper fire were denied.[8]


  • Choi Kyo-su, 33
  • Choi Chong-sam, 37

Wounded was Chon Sok-won, 34.


Army chief of staff Roh Jae-hyun apologized to the victims' families, and an investigation was launched into the crime to ascertain how it was possible for Rha to shoot his way from Seoul to Jeonju without being engaged by police.[8] As a consequence of the investigation seven police officers were dismissed from service for dereliction of duty, because they had failed to handle the situation adequately.[10]


  1. Korean kills six, Tri City Herald (May 11, 1973)
  2. News in brief - Shootout in Seoul, The Evening Independent (May 11, 1973)
  3. Soldier Kills Self After Slaying Six, The Washington Post (May 12, 1973)
  4. Soldier shoots six, then himself, The Straits Times (May 12, 1973)
  5. Berserk soldier kills six, The Leader-Post (May 14, 1973)
  6. 탈영병 카빈난동, The Chosun Ilbo (May 12, 1973)
  7. 탈영병난동문책 경관 7명 순위해제, The Chosun Ilbo (May 23, 1973)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 120Mile Trail of Death - Berserk ROK Soldier Kills Self, Pacific Stars and Stripes (May 13, 1973)
  9. 입대전 폭력전과일범 범인 가선종 일병, The Dong-a Ilbo (May 12, 1973) (p. 7)
  10. 7 ROK Cops Fired For Dereliction, Pacific Stars and Stripes (May 24, 1973)

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