The Dark Side of Seoul Podcast

The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of the Myeongdong Gangsters

July 20, 2023 ZenKimchi Episode 174
The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of the Myeongdong Gangsters
The Dark Side of Seoul Podcast
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The Dark Side of Seoul Podcast
The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of the Myeongdong Gangsters
Jul 20, 2023 Episode 174
ZenKimchi

Shin Sang-hyun and his “New Sergeant Family” took over Myeongdong in the 1950s and later the Seoul criminal underground. But not without some serious battles on Seoul’s streets.

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Credits

Produced by Joe McPherson and Shawn Morrissey

Music by Soraksan

Top Tier Patrons

Angel Earl
Joel Bonomini
Shaaron Cullen
Devon Hiphner
Minseok Lee
Ryan Berkebile
Gabi Palomino
Steve Marsh
Mitchy Brewer 
Ron Chang
Mackenzie Moore
Hunter Winter
Cecilia Löfgren Dumas
Emily Umbaugh



Support the Show.

Join our Patreon to get more stuff

https://patreon.com/darksideofseoul

Book a tour of The Dark Side of Seoul Ghost Walk at https://darksideofseoul.com

Pitch your idea here. https://www.darksideofseoul.com/expats-of-the-wild-east/

Credits

Produced by Joe McPherson and Shawn Morrissey

Music by Soraksan


Top tier Patrons

Angel Earl
Joel Bonomini
Shaaron Cullen
Devon Hiphner
Minseok Lee
Gabi Palomino
Steve Marsh
Mitchy Brewer
Ron Chang
Mackenzie Moore
Hunter Winter
Cecilia Löfgren Dumas
Emily Umbaugh
Josephine Rydberg
David Weatherly
Janice Song
Devin Buchanan

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Shin Sang-hyun and his “New Sergeant Family” took over Myeongdong in the 1950s and later the Seoul criminal underground. But not without some serious battles on Seoul’s streets.

Join our Patreon to get more stuff

https://patreon.com/darksideofseoul

Book a tour of The Dark Side of Seoul Ghost Walk at https://darksideofseoul.com

Pitch your idea here. https://www.darksideofseoul.com/expats-of-the-wild-east/

Credits

Produced by Joe McPherson and Shawn Morrissey

Music by Soraksan

Top Tier Patrons

Angel Earl
Joel Bonomini
Shaaron Cullen
Devon Hiphner
Minseok Lee
Ryan Berkebile
Gabi Palomino
Steve Marsh
Mitchy Brewer 
Ron Chang
Mackenzie Moore
Hunter Winter
Cecilia Löfgren Dumas
Emily Umbaugh



Support the Show.

Join our Patreon to get more stuff

https://patreon.com/darksideofseoul

Book a tour of The Dark Side of Seoul Ghost Walk at https://darksideofseoul.com

Pitch your idea here. https://www.darksideofseoul.com/expats-of-the-wild-east/

Credits

Produced by Joe McPherson and Shawn Morrissey

Music by Soraksan


Top tier Patrons

Angel Earl
Joel Bonomini
Shaaron Cullen
Devon Hiphner
Minseok Lee
Gabi Palomino
Steve Marsh
Mitchy Brewer
Ron Chang
Mackenzie Moore
Hunter Winter
Cecilia Löfgren Dumas
Emily Umbaugh
Josephine Rydberg
David Weatherly
Janice Song
Devin Buchanan

Facebook Page |
Instagram

Speaker 1:

And welcome to the Dark Side of Soul podcast. This is Joe, this is Sean, and today we're going to continue our Gangster's series. I apologize for the large gap, but when I started getting into this section, it's very dense and it's very difficult to find what's true and what's not And coming up with a tight narrative, so I was originally dividing it into different eras, but now, at this point, i think it's better to tell it through by focusing on actual figures and telling the history through those figures. Does that work for you, sean?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm good, all right.

Speaker 1:

It works for me, no problem. All right, i am going to front load the episode by by mentioning we do run the Dark Side of Soul Ghost Walk, which you can find at darksideofsoulcom. We also have our comics Weird Tales from Korean Lore, very popular. We have to keep reprinting them.

Speaker 3:

Just got Yeah, just got the fourth printing of the first book yesterday. Good to deliver to my place? Yeah, yes, so arrived.

Speaker 1:

So we're going to order those directly through us. You can get them also at a discount if you order them with your tour. We'll bring it to you at the tour. Keep in mind, if you are ordering a hard copy, we're using very cheap rates, so it takes a long time and we can't track it. Now. If you're willing to pay a little extra, we can look into that if you want it faster and with tracking. But the gap between what we're charging and what between the two rates the other rates is very large.

Speaker 1:

So you might be spending like $20, $30 for delivery for one or two comic books. Yeah, i apologize, because some people yeah, it takes around. It's like what they used to say in those commercials in the 70s and 80s. It was like taking six to eight weeks for delivery. That's kind of how it is. That's how we keep our costs low. So it's not Amazon speed. We're so sorry for that. I'll work on solutions whenever I can to make it faster. I'll look, i'll research, but this is the best we can for right now. But you can also get the electronic version. That's instant, or get it over the Dice Latte in Seoul.

Speaker 3:

That's like the Dice Comics and Dice and Comics Yeah, the place formerly known as the Dice Latte Yeah, dice and Comics Cafe.

Speaker 1:

It will always be the Dice Latte in my heart.

Speaker 3:

It took me ages to stop calling it Dice Latte.

Speaker 1:

After Joey changed it, i think he's still actually Dice Latte on Instagram, so anyway, all right, yeah, so, picking up, we're going to talk a little bit about Myungdong. We covered before about the Korean Japanese guy Hayashi, how he helped build the Yakuza in Myungdong in the 1930s and he got out of the business in 1945 after liberation. Then in the 50s it was Kim Doohan Sean's favorite character, kim Doohan who took control of Jongno, the Jongno area, and that was in the 50s. And now we're going to I'm going to concentrate today on who's known as the mega godfather, shin Sang-hyun and the Shin Sang-sa Pa, the gang, the family, and he dominated Myungdong with the Shin Sang-sa Pa from around the 1950s to the 1990s, so he's known as the Emperor of Myungdong. He was a former sergeant in the Korean army and he was known as a new sergeant Shin Sang-sa And yeah, that's how they got their name, the Shin Sang-sa Pa. Quick bio Shin Sang-hyun was born in 1932 over in Gwangsudong in Jongno-gu.

Speaker 1:

His father was a tailor, so during the Japanese colonial period that was a good profession to have, so they had like a middle class life. Shin, he liked sports, especially boxing, judo and kendo, but in high school he was severely punished by his teachers for not speaking Japanese, which was required in schools at that time, and so he failed to graduate. To make up for that, at the age of 17 in 1949, he enlisted in the army. During that time he was part of a subjugating pro-north Korea guerrillas over in Jirisan, which I'm trying to find some more info on. This. I have to look deeper for that one dead incident, because this is before the Korean War. You know more about this?

Speaker 3:

Jared Ranbarale. Yeah, i've been to the sites in Jirisan. Most of them are in the southern area near Pemsa Gore And yeah, you can see where they especially the guerrillas and stuff where they printed their newspapers and things like that. They were hidden up in valleys or down in valleys. Yeah, it's a really cool area. You go through the trails where they were hiding and stuff like that. It's fascinating And there's a little cave there where they printed, they hand printed their newspapers, where they secretly were passing out among the community of guerrillas and stuff like that It's amazing, jared Ranbarale.

Speaker 1:

Wow, i feel a tour idea coming, jared.

Speaker 3:

Ranbarale, yeah, i mean, yeah, potentially, it's definitely places that should be visited. I don't think they're widely promoted by people who run tours down there.

Speaker 1:

Jared Ranbarale. No, but that's the interesting stuff that they ignore, jared Ranbarale. Well, the Korean War broke out and he got shot in the leg And in 1953 he was discharged with the rank of first sergeant in the Army Special Forces. He went down to Degu and what they say no, no, in my readings they keep calling the gangsters fists. So they say, like he instantly in that one year, that when he got to Degu he just knocked out all the local fists and then he created his organization, shinsang Sapa. It's hard to say really fast, shinsang Sapa.

Speaker 3:

Jared Ranbarale.

Speaker 1:

So in 1954, his gang was recruited by the police to disrupt the campaign of an E-Singman Sigmundri rival, and he hated it and vowed never to return to politics. He didn't like what he felt it was really dirty. So he went to Seoul and he settled down next to the Central Theater in Myeongdong I think we know where that is or was And again, gradually. This is how you get ahead. You just beat up everyone. It's like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, i don't know what it is It's like or Mike Tyson's punch out, you just beat up all the other leaders and you move up, or higher and higher and higher in the ranks. And he had his sights on the then Myeongdong Emperor, yi Hua Yong, which he talked about before And so he's the new kid in town and he didn't really know much. He was just trying to make his name. He beat up a guy he thought was Yi Hua Yong at the Ujuro Taeyang Coffee Shop Was the wrong guy. This guy was the president of a radio company. Yeah. So Yi Yongbok, who is the designated successor to Yi Hua Yong, heard about this And he's like okay, we need to teach this guy a lesson.

Speaker 1:

So he led 60 gang members and they stormed Shin Sanghyun's office in Myeongdong And Shin retaliated by getting a group of six men together and raided Lee Youngbok's house And so another protégé of Yi Hua, yong Park Ilgap. He went in and mediated and helped the two reconcile And Shin became the leader of, like this, pen Myeongdong faction. So he was able to get everyone together. This is how it works. I mean, it's like Game of Thrones. It's hard to keep track of what everyone's doing. You know, it's very similar to Korea in the late 19th century. It's so hard to find out who what faction is is aligned with who, because they change so much and they combine and they split. So Korean history is all about factions, cell division, mitosis. Green history is all about mitosis, love, splitting up, getting together and splitting up.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you mentioned this, like in your in your other series, the fall of Chosun. Yeah, it's always the factions man, It's always So mitosis.

Speaker 1:

You were like why is Korea split? Well, that's, that's how Korea goes. It seems like in history And I know that wasn't like a preconceived notion, it's just a pattern I keep noticing going through any section of Korean history. I mean we've do yet. Fall of Chosun, which is hundreds of years ago, and then the gangster era gangster era as a gangster, gangster era, which was, you know, less than 100 years ago. We'll return to the podcast after this message.

Speaker 2:

In our first comic we explored ghastly Korean folk tales while walking the streets of Seoul. This time we are ambling the Korean highlands with terror tales set in those storied landscapes. Welcome to the dark side of Seoul. Weird tales from Korean lore mountains of the macabre.

Speaker 1:

So in 1955, the faction, the Shinsangpa Shinsangsa Pa faction, saved a man named Kim Ung-gyu from being beat up by Kim Doohan's Jungno faction, And Kim Ung-gyu wanted revenge against AOMAS, who is the new leader of Kim Doohan's faction. Now, some of this I have gone before in my previous episodes, but I'm just bringing this all back up today. And so Shinsangsa Pa heard AOMAS was dancing at the National Museum of Korea because I guess that's what you do at the National Museum of Korea and set up an ambush. Aomas was able to escape by jumping out the second story window where he broke his leg, and it was very shameful that this all happened because a junior like Shinsanghyun bested him. Yeah, at the time Shinsanghyun was only 23 at the time. So 1956 is the famous Golden Carriage raid. So at the time the Dongdaemun faction and the Myungdong factions were at odds And Golden Carriage, which in Korean was called Hwangum Macha, was a cabaret that was cone by Yi Hsueh Young in Gwancheol-dong, which is Kim Doohan's Jungno territory. Now we talked about the Sam-Uhe, which is kind of a paramilitary gangster group, thug Terrorist Organization that did a lot of Shingmenry's dirty work And there was a combination of the Sodaemun Jungno and Yi Jungjae's Dongdaemun factions. They used this Golden Carriage cabaret as an excuse to show their strength. They weren't really that upset. It wasn't really that they were upset that it opened in Jungno territory. They were just using it as an excuse to show that they put Shin in his place. So Myungdong heard that they were going to go up and they were going to trash the Golden Carriage. So they got wind in front of the Golden Carriage and they lay in wait And they were greatly outnumbered. But the thing is, a lot of the Myungdong gang were veterans of the Northwest Youth League and were experienced fighters. And the Sam-Uhe well, they had just finished the ceremony where they all got smashed, drunk and they had no structure command system. So the Myungdong gang just used catapults That's why I keep reading is catapults, catapults of bricks and stones at the Sam-Uhe as they approached and drove them off. Now I have links to this and our notes on our website.

Speaker 1:

I found clips from the Korean drama Savage Age, which I think was done in the 90s. You can tell it was done on video, not on digital video, and I found a clip with English subtitles that depicts this. Now this is very romanticized And the more I keep reading about this is they really played fast and loose with the history on this, so don't use Savage Age as your guide. Nonetheless, very fun 10 minute video to watch. In this one they confront the Myungdong gang in front of the Golden Carriage And there were a few individual fights. And, oh my goodness, these are, like I want to say, kung Fu fighting, but it is not Kung Fu, but it is very. It's good martial arts action going on here In classic Hong Kong style zooms and cuts and everything. It's really fun to watch. Bunch of yeah so a bunch of guys fighting. Then they will break it out and the police break it up, so, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So after they drove them off, sam-uhe stormed the Myungdong faction, but the Myungdong faction fled in advance to avoid police intervention. This all deepens their conflict And this leads to the Chung Chung Chung Chung, no X incident. Now, this is why I say Savage Age isn't that accurate, because in that the the, the accident, the Chung Chung Chung, no X incident, happens right after the Golden Carriage raid, when actually there's a two year gap between the two. So there's two years of fighting between the Myungdong and Dongdaemun since then And actually the Myungdong faction was starting to fall, apart from financial and political troubles And public opinion was also against the Dongdaemun faction after the Jang Chung Dang simply a obstruction, which I talked a little bit before in the last one, but I'll go over it again And the Dan Song Sa sniper incident and various political terrorist acts. So, jang Chung Dang, what happened in 1957.

Speaker 1:

The National Southern Committee of the Opposition Party the ones that were against Singman Rhee held a lecture on state affairs at Jang Chung Dang Park, which you can go to today, and this was meant to condemn Singman Rhee's liberal party. Now it is estimated that 200,000 citizens attended this and they were fed up with Singman Rhee's party And Joe Byung-ok, who was the Democratic Party's presidential candidate. He was coming up to the microphone when he was booed at by youths, presumably the Dongdaemun gang, and Joe Byung-ok made the mistake of telling them to come up to the mic if they had anything to say, and that was the cue for 50 Dongdaemun members to storm the podium with clubs. Now Kim Doohun, who was there and he was trying to get into politics, tried to calm the mob, but it failed. Dongdaemun gang doused the amp with gasoline and set it on fire and they assaulted the cameraman filming the proceedings And coincidentally, the police didn't show up until the gangsters were gone. That was strange, wow. And when the police showed up, they just dispersed the lecture. You notice that this is the typical Korean thing You know I talk about. You know the Korean government deals with conflicts is kind of like the dad driving the car and the kids arguing in the back. They don't care who started it, they just want to stop. So they just said just to disperse the lecture, just like okay, whatever, you're all bad, go home. Pissed people off. So it made it made. It did not make Simunri look any better, it just made Korea look even less democratic. I'm not going to reiterate, i'm just going to review the 1955 Dangtsung Sass sniper incident.

Speaker 1:

This guy named Kim Dong-jin was planning to expose a lot of political assassinations that the Dongdaemun game were doing And the Dongdaemun gang decided to. Uh, uh, he decided to wait on exposing them and he went into hiding. And then he, jung Jae, the head of the Dongdaemun game, put a head on him And in Hwasoo, uh, one of the members, uh, remember that Kim Jong-jin, kim Dong-jin, loved movies, especially Westerns, and so stagecoach was um going to premiere over at the Dan Song-sa Theater, which was the theater in Korea And, um, uh, they went and ambushed them and Lee Seok-jae shot Kim Dong-jin. He survived, um and um, yeah, we said that before. Lee Seok-jae said that he meant to wound Kim, not kill him, because, uh, uh, and he was smiling when he said that. And the judge asked why they were smiling and he said, well, if you know how, uh, he could prove what a good shot he was. And he, he, he shot three cigarettes in front of the police, which I think is a myth, because you know we talked about that before That that really they would end in a courtroom. All right, anyway, so this is all happening in the in between these two years. Uh, in the meantime, uh, another uh capo over the Myeongdong, uh, jong Bong-gu, defects to Dongdaemun Makes it worse, and so, um, uh, so also, some thugs entered Myeongdong and shot off a gun and fled, and each he, hwa Yong uh, the Myeongdong emperor, assumed it was Lee Jong-jae, and so they got axes, rented a Jeep because you could do that then and attacked Lee Jong-jae's stronghold.

Speaker 1:

And uh, now it looks like the reporters were there waiting. Lee Jong-jae knew it was going to happen, and so they had already. Lee Jong-jae had already fled and had these reporters there, and and only the police and the reporters were there And um, they threatened the police with axes but then dropped them and fled. As a result of this, yihua Yong and his men were arrested And part of the Dongdaemun Gang, yi Zhongjie's subordinate, yu Jiguang. He was arrested as well And he himself was sentenced to eight months in prison.

Speaker 1:

The Myeongdong Gang totally disintegrates after many members were sent to prison, including Xin Sanghyun. Xin Sanghyun was sentenced to three years, but he served one year and six months based on appeals, and when he left he went out and rebuilt the Myeongdong organization, and after he did that, it is said that he pacified the whole fist world in Seoul. By then this was 1960s. Pak Chung he was in power. He cracked down, executed Yi Zhongjie of Dongdaemun, so Dongdaemun was gone.

Speaker 1:

The Jongno faction didn't get strong after Kim Dae-hoon left and went into politics, so Myeongdong was the king of the gangsters, and so he set everything up to make money One thing that Yi Hua Yong was really bad at. So he set it up to make money. And remember the original, original, original Myeongdong faction was started by Hayashi, who was part of the Yakuza, so Myeongdong has always had a little bit of a relationship with Yakuza in Japan, especially with Inagawa Kai. Inagawa Kai I need to practice this before I In my brain I can hear it, but I don't speak it out loud Tongue doesn't hear it. Yeah, inagawa Kai, which is one of the three Yakuza, and so he had a good relationship with middle manager So Sun-jung, who was a Zainichi Korean Japanese.

Speaker 1:

His Japanese name was Nishi Yama Minoru. Good relationship with them. He had a good. They were able to work together, yakuza and the Myeongdong gang. They went into the boxing and entertainment businesses. So Sun-jung of the Inagawa Kai, he managed Korea's first boxing champion, kim Ki-soo, and other boxing champions, so they made a lot of money through the boxing business. And Shin, he made a new assistant, gu Da-ung, who became acting boss to handle the dirty work, and from then Shin was only involved with big things after that, like partnering with local organizations or with Yakuza organizations Very Don Corleone things. See you in the next video. He just stayed in his office and just only bothered with things whenever they really needed some big guns. And you know what I'm just going to say here to be continued, because I think that was a lot of information to throw at you. We will continue this with the next iteration of the gangster series. We're going to explore a little more of the 60s and some other characters of this time There we go.

Speaker 3:

It's very dense, but interesting.

Speaker 4:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, very, very. Even Yomi the White just showed up. Wow, It's like what are you guys talking about?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Oh my, that's a lot, and I felt it was. There's so much stuff going on. I just have to repeat some of the stuff. Sure, there's no way you're going to remember it without being reminded.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, Yeah, right right.

Speaker 1:

We'll return to the podcast after this message.

Speaker 4:

Take a walk. there's 500 years of ghastly murders, forbidden history and hidden scandals. Listen to tales of Korea's deepest, darkest secrets. What lies under the concrete Or who. The dark side of Seoul Coast. Walk at darksideofsoulcom. But now, if you dare, All right, Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So, hey, if you have any listener mail, contact us at info at darksideofsoulcom, by email or through Instagram or Facebook Always darksideofsoul on all of our social accounts. We like to ask questions or anything like you know. We'll make up an answer for you. It'll be fine Fun Hear your, hear your letter on the air. The dark side of Seoul podcast was produced by Joe McPherson and Sean Morrissey. Our opening and closing music is by Sadexan, which you can find on Bankcamp under Dead You Digital. We'd like to thank our top tier patrons Angel Earl, joel Bonamini, sharon Cullen, devin Hiffner, min Suk Lee, ryan Birkebal, gabby Palamino, steve Marsh, mitchie Brewer, ron Chang McKinsey, moore Hunter, william Hunter Winter, cecilia Lufklin Dumas and Emily Oomba. Thank you for supporting us. You too can join these wonderful upright citizens at patreoncom slash darksideofsoul And just starting at $5 a month, you can get a lot of extra content and support us, support the show, keep us paying our bills to keep the podcast going.

Speaker 3:

Yeah Yeah, and that's a good group. There was a big chat in their private chat room the top tier page in private chat about books, some of the books that we're reading lately. The topic stuff that we get on is great. I mean so much stuff that we chat about.

Speaker 1:

Our topics really come from the chat room too, from our patrons. Yeah, I mean our feedback, like what they want to hear more of. I'm like, okay, we'll do that. Yeah, I mean, that's really why I finally got around to doing you on Joel a couple of years ago. It was like because we were pressured so much by our patrons like do this, Yeah, And then serial killer episode.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that series was it three episodes Oh it was four.

Speaker 4:

It was four episodes, yeah.

Speaker 3:

That ended up being one of our biggest, most downloaded episodes.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's probably popular. That's a lot of people's introduction to the show. is that one?

Speaker 3:

And after Netflix released their documentary series, we ended up getting a bump in views Because it released released ours first, the Netflix release theirs And we got a lot of people across social media were saying, oh, the dark side of soul podcast about this is way better. It goes into better detail. Yeah, That talks about the more deeply about the how the cops goofed that up.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, because the Netflix series really made the cops look good, because they were the only sources they use, basically for this whole thing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3:

It wasn't a very good. I didn't like. I didn't like the Netflix.

Speaker 1:

It felt boned in Yeah.

Speaker 3:

It was just it was, it was completely one sided. Yeah, break that down When, if the only people there they're interviewing are the authorities, then you know that they're not doing it right, because the authorities are not going to talk badly about themselves.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, i wish they talked the guy wearing the sunglasses in his interview.

Speaker 2:

No, fucks sakes.

Speaker 3:

No, what a rig out.

Speaker 1:

Oh, i know, And I understand this is a podcast of two snobby white guys talking, but you know it's not me, i'm joking. I'm joking, i heard, i heard that we come across a snobby sometimes, which I mean I get it, it's fine. Yeah, i know I snob, but you know me for my taste and everything, but I see how it comes across that way.

Speaker 3:

I'm not snobby, i'm just negative.

Speaker 4:

Bye.

The Gangster's Series
The Gangster Series
Comparison of Podcast and Netflix Series