Real Korean Criminal Cases That Inspired The Drama Signal

Believe it or not, the drama Signal was inspired by a few famous criminal cases that happened in South Korea and some of them remain unsolved.

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Park Choroung Bitnari Kidnapping - Murder

The first episode follows an investigation of a missing elementary school girl who disappeared on her way home. The story was inspired by the famous case of ‘’Park Choroung Bitnari Kidnapping-Murder’’.

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In 1997, eight-year-old Park Choroung - Choroung Bitnari (translates as ‘’Park Twinkle-Twinkle Going to Shine’’) went missing on her way home in Jamwon. The kidnapper requested 20 million won (equivalent to roughly 20 thousand dollars) in exchange for the child’s life. However, the police got too close and the kidnapper killed Park Choroung in cold blood. Later, they discovered that the kidnapper was an 8 months pregnant woman who was desperate for money. She remains in prison today, sentenced to life. 

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The case became really famous back then because it happened in an affluent neighbourhood in Seoul and also because of the long and uncommon name of the child


Hwaseong Serial Murders

The South Gyeonggi investigation case, that happened in episodes 3 and 4, was inspired by the most famous serial killer case in South Korea called the ‘’Hwaseong Serial Murders’’.

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In the city of Hwaseong, on September 15, 1986, a body of a young woman was found in a rice field bound with her own clothing. Soon another woman was found dead in the same manner. The police realised that they had a serial killer operating in their area. It was the first case in the history of South Korea and the police weren’t prepared to face a complicated investigation. Overall, 10 bodies were found in over 5 years, spanning the ages of 14 to 71, and all of them were killed in the same way. 

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The investigation led 2 million police officers to check over 21,000 suspects. A total of 40,000 individuals had their fingerprints taken, 570 DNA samples and 180 hair samples were analysed. The forensic analysis revealed the blood type of the killer as ‘B’, but due to the lack of technology in the late 1980s, it was not possible to identify the killer. This case remains unsolved.


Miryang Gang Rape Case

In one of the last episodes of ‘Signal’, the story follows one rape case that happens in Inju, a fictional city. It was inspired by the famous rape case that happened in Miryang in 2004 called the ‘’Miryang Gang Rape Case’’.

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A middle school girl was raped by at least 41 male students several times in the span of 11 months. During these times, she was forced to bring her little sister and her cousin. However, after her aunt had found out and reported to the police, they were blamed for the crime. The parents of the offenders had claimed that the girls had been seducing the boys and the police officers said in their face that they ruined Miryang’s name. After all, the rapists ended up getting a light sentence despite their crime, leaving the Korean population shocked for the insensibility and the lack of justice.

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In the drama, the plot line is a bit different and strays a little from the actual story, but it still focuses on the pain of the rape victims and the guilt they felt from the crime.


That's it! Thanks for reading and I’m sorry if I wrote in too much detail about the crimes. I know it can be a little bit disturbing for a few people. If you know any dramas that were inspired by real criminal cases or real facts… please comment bellow.

Comments (21)

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  • Reply
    JustJackieB 10 days ago

    No need to apologize for writing a great article. I wonder if some of those episodes were based on real crimes. Your article answered that question for me. Thanks.

  • Reply
    biniBningPunkista 11 days ago

    This is an awesome article!!! I initially knew that the cases were actually based from true crime records but I've never read an article with such detailed comparisons. This is such a good read since I loved Signal. Thank you for sharing!!! ^_^v

  • Reply
    oreobingsu 12 days ago

    Not a drama but The Silenced/Crucible is a Korean movie which is also based from true events! It's about school master pedophiles taking advantage over their disabled (deaf and mute) students. Uggh it's been a while but the chills and goosebumps still remain.

  • Reply
    Rania 13 days ago

    Aaaa it's been a year. What a time! I miss signal T.T

  • Reply
    blackcatz9 13 days ago - edited

    I like it when they incorporate true incidents and issues in a drama. A reminder.... perhaps something that should not be forgotten. This was an awesome drama, would love a sequel. Thank you for your article.

  • Reply
    fanitha 13 days ago

    Very interesting article! Congratulations!

  • Reply
    mikachan 13 days ago

    A movie that covers the rape case is Han Gong Ju, a great movie and damn makes you feel like.....ugh just watch it

  • Reply
    Gulsen 13 days ago

    Belmani, that's the best article I read recently.Thanks for researching and writing it in detail.
    It is indeed scary and sickening cases and unfortunately real-life cases..I really like crime-investigation dramas because they can get closer to stuff like that. I remember one of my fav dramas "Gap Dong" was also inspired from a true murder case which remained unsolved.
    (Still remembering the scene where the officer came to his daughter's grave, it was so touching..:/ )

  • Reply

    I already knew about this but it was nice to see an article sharing this for those who didn't know.
    I would however not have used the word "famous" b/c it sounds like it's praising the criminal and the crime. a better word-adge would have been "most well known" - as it shows that it's a very well known case that most people know about or have heard about, without sounding like it's "praising" it lol
    Otherwise, great job. ^^

  • Reply
    hollywillow 13 days ago - edited

    Miryang Gang Rape Case is sick. I thought korean police are not as sick as in the movies/drama tho.... But now I think coz of the real life police are like that so the movies/dramas made them that way.

    I read it somewhere one of the rapists' friend (a girl) became a police officer, and people are mad. But the police don't bother with it and promote the girl as a high ranked officer. sick sick sick. Ain't them ashamed of themselves?

    Now I'm scared, what if those celebrities who have been charged with sexual assault and released turns out really assaulted them? But coz of their celeb status they escaped easily. Oh God no :"(

  • Reply
    MrBanana 14 days ago

    I have seen so many movies and other dramas with the Hwaseong Serial Murders.

  • Reply
    anniiing 14 days ago

    I google it lol can't get enough of this article. It's called frog boys case. Hope this will help if you guys are curious. :) nice article btw

  • Reply
    anniiing 14 days ago

    I've read somewhere that the police can't find they murderer in Hwaseong case is because he rape whenever there's rain or if there will be a rain in the area. That's why they can't find semen on the bodies of the victims. And there's another case, the one where the murderer buried the victims bodies in the mountain. I believe it's inspired by true case also.

  • Reply
    Banada6 14 days ago

    More reasons to love signal. ❤️❤️

  • Reply

    This is why I love tunnel. It shows that there are real life cases, similar to ones shown in the drama. These are REAL people.
    Thank you for this article, and reminding us it's not just a thriller but stuff like this can actually happen.
    My heart goes out to these people!

    • Reply
      BeautifulSwan 14 days ago

      signal right?

    • Reply
      KatySarang_TGeyes 11 days ago
      Reveal Spoiler »
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