New tools for suicide: Paper bills and shoelaces?


The death of a suspect named Xing Kun in the Kunming Xiaonan police station has attracted the attention of Chinese media and netizens. Netizens are skeptical about supposedly a suicide happened in the holding cell of a police station. Many speculated about the “real causes of death” and phrases like “faked suicide” once again became the hot phrase on the internet. Xing Kun was arrested on October 11th and died the next day – less than 24 hours after he was placed in his holding cell.

On December 16, Kunming Prosecutorial office and public security bureau held a joint press conference to release the information about the incident and the investigation. According to the briefing, Xing Kun first used a paper bill (money) to pick the lock on his handcuffs. After his hands were free, he then used a pair of shoelaces to hang himself to death. This statement did not quiet down the public’s questionings. Instead, it provoked even more people to doubt the police and to speculate about the “truth”. If a paper bill can unlock the handcuffs, are the handcuffs made of paper? If shoelaces can be used to hang someone, what kind of super shoelaces are they? How did the suspect avoid being searched and bring in the suicide tools – paper bill and shoelaces into the holding cell?

Netizens’ conclusion was: This incident proves, there is a serious decline in quality of handcuffs, but the quality of shoelaces has improved greatly and the RMB is stronger than ever!

News flashback

On October 7, Xing Kun stole worth 50,000 yuan of PSP handheld game consoles from a store in the mall. He put them up on the internet for sale, but his ads were found by the owner’s friend. On December 11th, the owner and his friend pretended to buy PSP’s from him and asked Xing Kin to meet at the Kunming City Stadium. The owner and his friend beat Xing Kun up and tied him up with his belt and shoelaces then turned him in to the police.

According to the police, the suspect confessed all his crimes and they did not use any physically abusive interrogation tactics. The marks and bruises on his face and back were caused by the fight that had happened earlier with the owner of the lost property.

Kunming public security bureau even released to the public parts of the surveillance video. The video captured the suspect freeing himself from the handcuffs with a paper bill and falling on the ground when his first suicide attempt failed. However, the most important part, his actual act of suicide just happened to be in the blind spot of the surveillance camera.

In the video, he appears as a man wearing light-colored clothing. He always had his back towards the camera and he was squatting. His hands were handcuffed behind his back. Slowly, this man moved his hands in front of his body, then took out a piece of paper bill from his pocket. He folded the bill into a triangle shape and started to pick the handcuffs. After only a few seconds (the scene we often see in the “007” movies), his lifted up his right hand, and the handcuffs came off. But he was even slicker than James Bond, because Bond used a girl partner’s metal bobby pin to open the handcuffs, but Xing only used a piece of paper bill.

After a while, this man walked out of the picture and then he walked in the picture again. Then, magically, he took out a pair of shoelaces from his pocket. After nodding, he walked into the blind spot again. Not for long, he appeared in the video again, this time he fell on the ground. “This is his fist attempt of hanging himself, but was unsuccessful!” director of the information office of the Kunming public security bureau commented. One minute later, the man walked into the blind spot again, this time he never walked out…

The following are summary of some of the netizens’ doubtful points:

1. Using a paper bill to pick the lock of handcuff is just too magical

An expert said that it is almost impossible for a normal person to do this. Only professionals who studies handcuffs and understand how they work then might have a chance. So, maybe Xing Kun is not an ordinary person…

2. A pair of shoelaces that are 1.72 meters long

The police showed the shoes and the shoelaces. Netizens questioned “have you ever seen a 1.72 meter shoelace?” This pair of shoelaces seem to be longer than normal, for his shoes at least.

“Will shoelaces hold up a man that weights over 150 lbs?” Physicist said double layered shoelaces like these can hold up to 50 – 60 kg, but King Kun is 1.64 meters tall and weighs 65 kg.

How could the police miss the shoelaces and money when they searched him and put him in the cell.



3. 0.16 square meters of blind spot

According to the information from the police station the area of the holding cell is about 6.5 square meters and the blind spot for the camera only is 0.16 square meters of space. Xing Kun just happened to be in this spot is really “lucky”. Netizens said he must have watched a lot of “Prison Break” if he could have been in the exact blind spot of the camera. If it was luck, then he should not have killed himself, he should keep himself alive and go buy a lottery ticket when he gets out.


4. Bruises and marks

There were bruises and marks on suspect’s face, back and arms. But the public security bureau said these injuries were there before he was arrested. They even had picture of him with the marks when he was arrested. The police stressed that there was no foul play at the police station.

But what I am wondering is: why did he kill himself – is the crime of stealing couple of PSP worth dying for? Even though the video was released, there are still many unanswered questions. After a case like Duo Maomao (literally: eluding the cat, full story here), netizens are probably very sensitive to the possibility of police brutality, though the police are probably being a lot more careful as well.


Netease | 21cn | JCRB

  1. Who really know weather it is murder or suicide,esp such thing happened in China!!May be a secret forever.

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