The Taipei Metro massacre perpetrated by the 21-year-old Zheng Jie (鄭捷), has shocked Taiwan. The country is among the safest in the world, and in the almost 20-year-long history of its underground network there had never been any major episode of violence. Indeed, in the minds of many Taiwanese the Taipei Metro system has come to represent Taiwan’s ideal of an orderly, civilised, modern society.
Zheng Jie used this very place of civility in order to commit the bloodiest carnage in recent Taiwanese history. Policemen were astonished by the man’s calm and cold demeanour after the arrest, and by how conscious he was of what he had done, by how unrepentant he was.
During the interrogation conducted by the police, Zheng Jie explained why he had decided to carry out the knife attack.
He said that he felt too much social pressure, that he didn’t want to live any more. But he didn’t have the courage to kill himself, so he wanted to be sentenced to death. He had been planning to commit murder since his childhood, and he thought that only by killing a large number of people would he get the death penalty.
He chose to carry out the massacre on the Bannan Line, between Longshan Temple Station and Jiangzicui Station. He said that the distance between the two stations is longer than usual, and this gave him the opportuniy to kill as many people as possible while the passangers were trapped in the train. He added that after killing those people he felt very satisfied. Policemen said they couldn’t believe a man could be so cold-blooded after killing four people and injuring more than twenty.
According to a former senior high school classmate surnamed Wang, Zheng Jie was a fan of Japanese writer Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale and other violent Japanese novels. In his school years, Zheng Jie would himself write novels in which he described different methods with which people could kill each other.
However, Wang said that Zheng Jie overall seemed like a normal teenager and that he was quite popular with his classmates.
Zheng Jie attended the College of Management of the National Defence University for two years before quitting and transferring to Donghai University, where he is still enrolled in the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering. According to his parents, he didn’t have many friends and spent most of his spare time at home playing video games.
Unlike other Metro systems in the world, Taipei doesn’t have any security controls for passengers entering the paid area of stations. In other Asian cities, like Beijing, every passengers must go through security checks before accessing the inner part of stations.