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Korean shopkeepers in LA sue black activist

August 30th, 2006 . by Matt

LA riots
California Market owner Richard Rhee returns fire at looters approaching his market in Koreatown, Los Angeles on the second day of the Los Angeles Riots.

A Korean grocers organisation in LA has sued a black activist for saying that Korean shopkeepers sold blacks “stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables”.

LOS ANGELES – A Korean grocers’ group sued former U.N. ambassador Andrew Young for libel for claiming that they and other market owners “ripped off” blacks.

The suit, filed last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court, also names the Wal-Mart store chain and seeks at least $7.5 million in damages.

The former Atlanta mayor resigned as head of a Wal-Mart advocacy group on Aug. 18 amid controversy over comments he made to the weekly, black-owned Los Angeles Sentinel.

In an interview, Young said that Wal-Mart competition had forced smaller, “mom-and-pop” stores out of his neighborhood.

“But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables,” Young said. “And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they’ve ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it’s Arabs; very few black people own these stores.”

He apologized later.

The libel suit was filed by the California Korean American Grocery Retailer Association.

“Most members are very upset,” said Gene Park, the association’s secretary and owner of a liquor store in Los Angeles. “There is no evidence that members sold those kinds of spoiled items. … If people think we charge higher prices or sell bad food, they won’t come in anymore.”

Korean shopkeepers were also major targets of rioters during the 1992 LA riots. Did ideas like this contribute to it? I dont know if Korean shopkeepers are charging more or not, but if they do, is it not fair compensation for doing business in a dangerous area? If I find a shops prices are too high, I simply shop elsewhere. I dont really see what the problem is here. Maybe someone can tell me.


13 Responses to “Korean shopkeepers in LA sue black activist”

  1. comment number 1 by: yooklid

    Jeez – totally on their side.

    No on else will open stores in these neighborhoods – they incur extra costs, if they didn’t have a higher markup, they’d simply go out of business. I doubt that the are selling bad produce though. If they are, who are the fools that bought it? Stale bread and wilted vegetables are pretty obvious.

  2. comment number 2 by: James

    It brings to mind one of the early scenes in the movie ‘Falling Down’, when Michael Douglas goes into a convience store run by an Asian guy and starts smashing stuff because the prices are too high.

    To be fair, yooklid is right: recent imigrant groups such as Koreans were probably the only people willing to set up shop is unattractive and dangerous neighborhoods. Most non-chain conbinis have to charge higher prices because they don’t have the national distribution of 7-11 and other chains. Of course, there are probably some people who are charging very high markups, which contributes to the negative image.

  3. comment number 3 by: dogbert

    The Korean market owners are forced to have high markups to cover their equally high losses from theft.

  4. comment number 4 by: GarlicBreath

    I wonder if that guy “richard” rhee was prosecuted. If he was shooting into a crowd, he could shoot an innocent person.

    That is why “Edward” Song Lee, who was probably looting at the time of his demise, was shot.

    I think that the LA riots showed how American people who lived around koreans felt about them. Andrew Young is showing that the feelings have not changed much. Maybe if Korean would stop selling rotten food and treating people like they are criminals they would start to like Koreans more.

    Its not as if Koreans dont act exactly the same way in Korea. They follow you around and if you touch anything they have to ‘adjust’ it back to the dusty spot it was before.

    Anyway, why are they suing walmart? What did walmart do

  5. comment number 5 by: MarkA

    It shouldn’t be a black thing…Koreans are equal-opportunity scammers.

  6. comment number 6 by: wjk

    I think you can now add Mexican Americans to those list of people who own businesses in dangerous areas, and when they make enough money, they move up and out.

    That’s what my friends says of the recent change in Los Angeles, anyway.

    I personally of a few Koreans who were shot early to their deathbeds not only during 1992 LA riots, but during other times in the 90’s. They are justified in charging more.

    I also know of a Korean my age who got constant verbal abuse and sometimes physical abuse operating a gas station in a neighborhood no one wanted to do business in. Cops always show up late. These shop keepers all have at least one gun right next to them.

    My father’s friend does all operations behind a bullet proof windshield register, if possible. He has a big gun, too.

    What do you do when people shop lift? Probably watch and scream. What do you do when people empty your cash register at gun point? Probably shoot back or something. Cops don’t even show up in a 30 minute window. Enough time for a clean crime.

    Face it, not even cops want to be in some places. They want to live.

    So, they must charge more, or they won’t even be in business at all.

    Add to this list, people from the Dominican Republic, who sell groceries to Dominican Republicans. In New York City, Manhatten. What do these folk do about a mouse problem? They keep a cat. The word in NYC is don’t go to a deli where you see a cat inside the store. Obviously they have mice in the store. I saw a mouse blazing by more than once in the later hours in these stores. What do these markets concentrate on selling? It’s not fresh vegetables or fruits. Some of these places don’t sell any veges or fruits. They just sell cereal, chips, durable food goods, bread, milk, stuff that can go in a fridge, and a lot of deli sandwich material. These people sell mostly to Dominican Republic people, but they are also from the Dominican Republic.

    Black grocers will do the same thing. Funny thing is, I don’t see a lot of black grocers on 125th from the East End to the West End of Manhatten.

    Walmart is probably charged of paying inner city folk too little for their jobs. Prompting Chicago city to pay at least $10 an hour or so for inner city employees with full time jobs at super size employers like Wal Mart. Wal Mart and Target threatens to leave Chicago city and move to the suburbs, where these laws don’t apply. It’s really a loss to inner city folk, because they will be going out to the suburbs to get paid the same jobs when these laws take effect, and it will stunt whatever local economic boost WalMart and Target gave Chicago. No one should do politics without an understanding of economics.

  7. comment number 7 by: wjk

    oh, by the way, where’s the criticism of big city grocers or drug stores who charge a lot, simply because they are in the heart of the city?

    It’s just economics. They have cameras to replace the plebian’s way of following you around, and putting back the item where it was, and they got rid of bathrooms nearly in all stores in Manhatten, so they won’t have to worry about thieves doing their magic acts in the bathrooms. Plus, it won’t be good to get caught eye spying the bathroom.

    I would say the overpricing is justified, but the condescending attitude is not.

    I get this condescending attitude from a real old white lady at the local library, who pretty much never smiles, stares a lot, but I try to look over it, because she’s so old.

  8. comment number 8 by: wjk

    and if you rob a bank, the Cops come real fast. Blazing fast. They’re flooring the gas pedal to the floor. To the floor. And they come with an impressive gun shooting squadron, licensed to kill. So much disparity in how they respond to a local store robbery and a bank robbery. Unbelievable.

  9. comment number 9 by: migook

    In an interview, Young said that Wal-Mart competition had forced smaller, “mom-and-pop” stores out of his neighborhood.

    “But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables,” Young said. “And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they’ve ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it’s Arabs; very few black people own these stores.”

    Reads like Mr. Young’s frustration and resentment was a bit misplaced. The lack of black-owned businesses in a purportedly black neighborhood is, quite frankly, not the problem of immigrants trying to do business in their neighborhood, or anyone else’s neighborhood. Not all black people are poor, so one can only wonder why those with enough money don’t go into these neighborhoods and start businesses to cater to the needs of ‘their own people’.

  10. comment number 10 by: Rose

    Not all black people are poor, so one can only wonder why those with enough money don’t go into these neighborhoods and start businesses to cater to the needs of ‘their own people’.

    I totally agree with you on this. I think pretty much all black people when they get wealthy they just move out and up to better neighborhood.

    It’s a little off-topic but why are there a lot of Korean immigrants in the US when they think their country is the best and all that?
    I know that people from a developing countries such as Korea would want to emigrate to more developed countries for opportunities but the number of Koreans in the US is way too high considering the size and population of Korea.

    From what I have found right now, the population of Korea is roughly 49 millions and the number of Koreans in the US is probably close to or over 2 millions.

    I heard there are many Korean immigrants in Australia as well. What is really going on?

  11. comment number 11 by: Osiris

    I don’t really know about this one. On one side you have the fact that the Korean shopkeepers are horrible rip-off artists. On the other side you have the fact that the blacks that frequent the shops are almost 100% likely to shoplift. So what came first in this situation, the chicken or the egg? Only more racial hatred and violence will tell…..

  12. comment number 12 by: bad_moon_rising

    “And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they’ve ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it’s Arabs; very few black people own these stores.”

    Strangely enough Koreans have been labeled exploiters in Argentina as well. According to this Argentine article “Clausuraron otros 11 talleres”, dated April 06, 2006, it singles out Korean factories “en general”, as exploiting Bolivians. 1500 Bolivians protested against slave-like conditions at these Korean factories and demanded fair wages.

    Cerca de mil quinientos trabajadores bolivianos realizaron ayer una marcha en el barrio porteño de Flores en reclamo de normas más flexibles para habilitar los talleres textiles donde realizan la confección de prendas que les encargan fabricantes, en general coreanos, a quienes denuncian como “explotadores”, por lo que demandan “precios justos”.

    If Koreans are seen negatively in Latin America, and especially in countries like Argentina, it is entirely their own doing. As the Racial Discrimination in Argentina article shows, Koreans were intially welcomed when they first arrived in Argentina.

    Discrimination against Korean immigrants significantly worsened after a series of news reports in 1993 on a case of Korean grocers exploiting undocumented Bolivian immigrant workers and stealing electricity from the State appeared in the press. A previous popular image of Koreans as industrious changed to an image of Koreans as poorly integrated, exclusive, and not willing to learn Spanish. Their presence in good schools and neighbourhoods has been described as an invasion.

    I wonder if the Koreans will sue the Bolivians workers for defamation like they went after Andrew Young? Of course truth has always been an absolute defense to defamation.

  13. comment number 13 by: koreanmaster

    Nobody cares about Argentina. Nobody files a suit against argentina.

    If the slave niggers say stupid statements, they have to be properly educated by koreans. If they don`t want to hear, they have to feel.