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Cho Seung-Hui & Oldboy: Killer May Have Re-Enacted Violent Film

Apr 19, 2007

Police investigating the Virginia Tech killings are looking at whether Cho Seung-Hui was copying parts of a violent film titled 'Oldboy' when he murdered 32 people and killed himself in a massacre earlier this week. "Oldboy," from the respected director Chan-woo Park, is about a man unjustly imprisoned for 15 years. After escaping, he goes on a rampage against his captor. In one scene, he dispatches more than a dozen henchmen with the aid of a hammer, reports the Associated Press.

Cho Seung-Hui & Oldboy: Killer May Have Re-Enacted Violent Film

Cho Seung-Hui & Oldboy: Killer May Have Re-Enacted Violent Film

In the package of materials that Cho Seung-Hui sent to NBC News, one photo shows the killer brandishing a hammer in a pose similar to one from the film


A report from Sky News notes that police officers believe he repeatedly watched Oldboy as part of his preparation for the killing spree. The film, which won the Grand Prix award at the 2004 Cannes film festival, has been described as "an ultra-violent movie of obsession and revenge." It contains stylized scenes of killings and an attempted suicide, and is filled with what one critic called "punishing emotional violence."

Cho's video diary, along with his collection of movies, writings and that fact that he bought a gun last month reveal that, rather than the killing spree being a spontaneous event, he had planned the massacre in advance.


AP notes in another report that one blogger for the Huffington Post, filmmaker Bob Cesca, dismissed the connection as "the most ridiculous hypothesis yet" about the Virginia Tech massacre.

There was no apparent link between Cho and "Oldboy" besides the lone photograph among the 28 video clips, 23-page written message and 43 self-portrait photos that he sent to NBC. Cho killed the 32 victims with a handgun and a pistol, not a hammer. He did not seem to reference the film in any of his notes or messages.

But Sky News speculates that the fact that he seems to have been influenced by the film will re-ignite the debate over whether violence in movies and video games can lead to people becoming more violent themselves.

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