The yakuza is the Japanese equivalent of the mafia. In the 1930s, Hayashi was a Korean national who had defected to Japan and controlled the colonial branch of Imperial Japanese yakuza. Koo Majok, another Korean national, controlled a rival mob. The rival mob was short of money and tried to seize territory from Hayashi’s yakuza. However, the move was met with backlash, and Kim Du-han rebelled.
The first Korean gangs became organized during the Japanese occupation of the country, beginning in 1910. In addition to being involved in many criminal activities, the yakuza also controlled the government and the entertainment industry. They were also involved in gambling, prostitution, and loan sharking. The Korean government began a war against organized crime in the 1990s, incarcerating thousands of mobsters. However, these gangs quickly became business organizations and began forming connections with government officials, entertainment representatives, and other global crime rings.
The stereotype of a yakuza member in South Korea is of an Asian gangster with gakdoogi hair, a large build, and black clothing. Many have prominent tattoos and a tendency to talk in a saturi dialect. However, the Korean mafia does not operate in Seoul itself. Known gangsters are most active in the Jeollado area. They are also active in Busan and Incheon.
In the early 1950s, the Korean Yakuza were notorious for political terrorist acts. The Dongdaemon gang was responsible for the notorious National Assembly Audience riots during the Constitutional Reform Intervention in 1954. The gang also attacked protestors and politicians during the 1956 presidential election. Its violent tactics silenced protestors and the political opposition. This led the Korean government to make political reforms more difficult.