Occidentalism
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Warrant issued for runaway South Korean Hyundai executive

May 22nd, 2007 . by Matt

After a hard night at the room salon, a South Korean Hyundai executive fled back to South Korea after the fatality of a motorcyclist in a drunk driving accident.

By the time motorcyclist Ryan Dallas Cook saw the dark-colored sports utility vehicle in the commuter lane in front of him on the Costa Mesa Freeway in Orange County, Calif., backing up with no lights on, it was too late to avoid a crash. Within minutes, he was dead.

About 24 hours later, the Hyundai executive who was driving the SUV had left for his native South Korea.

Nearly two years later, an arrest warrant has been issued for Youn Bum Lee, and the victim’s family wants other Hyundai executives held liable, believing they helped him leave the country before police could track him down.

Orange County prosecutors last month charged Lee in absentia with three felonies in the death of 23-year-old Cook: gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated; driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with injury; and hit-and-run with injury or death.

Officials at the California Highway Patrol, who are leading the investigation, said Tuesday that the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Orange County district attorney’s office are working to locate Lee. His wife, who moved out of the couple’s Irvine home with their son days after the accident, is believed to be with him.

“We don’t know where he’s at right now,” said CHP officer Jennifer Hink.

Hink said the investigation has been complicated by Lee’s status as a foreign national, his decision to leave the country and language barriers. She said that some of Lee’s colleagues at Hyundai Motor Corp.’s U.S. headquarters in Fountain Valley, Calif., failed to cooperate during early stages of the investigation, but “for the most part, they have provided helpful information.”

Cook’s relatives, on the other hand, say they are convinced there was a coverup at Hyundai. They said they plan to file a wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday against the corporation and several employees, including Lee, alleging they helped thwart the investigation.

“Getting Youn Bum Lee out of the picture before he could be questioned or investigated immediately after the accident, that was a significant roadblock,” said the victim’s father, Carlton Cook. “Personally, I feel like Hyundai and its employees were accountable for the events that led up to the accident, too.”

Calls to Hyundai’s legal department and company officials named in court records were not returned Tuesday.

Police reports and other documents on file at Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana provide the following chronology:

Lee, a 40-year-old human resources administrator for Hyundai, joined six of his colleagues for dinner at Seoul Oak Korean restaurant in Garden Grove about 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 18, 2005, to welcome one of the businessmen to the U.S. The group ate barbecue ribs and soup, and consumed 14 bottles of Saan Soju, a Korean rice wine with a 21 percent alcohol content. Lee drank about eight shots of the soju, one of his friends later told police. The tab, including tip, was $337.

About 10 p.m., the party moved to 25 Si, a nearby karaoke bar, where they drank 16 cans of Hite beer in a room reserved for VIPs. They spent $297 and left just after midnight, Lee driving alone back to his home in Irvine.

What would happen if an American executive did that in Korea? I am pretty sure we know…


15 Responses to “Warrant issued for runaway South Korean Hyundai executive”

  1. comment number 1 by: GarlicBreath

    http://www.rjkoehler.com/?p=2669

    Accidents happen, but what is sick is that he ran with his family, and his company helped him.

    This Korean has no shame, no face. I guess his family approves and so does his company. Are these korean values?

    Dallas Cooks family needs to sue Hyundai in the USA. I think if they had to pay out a few million they would not be so eager to help out a murderer next time.

  2. comment number 2 by: stumpjumper

    This kind of reminds me of L.A. riot…
    The shopkeeper left the U.S. too.

  3. comment number 3 by: Ken

    Once my friend drank nearly 1 littre of rice wine and tried to drive home in the USA.
    He was caught and jailed by police as he seemed to have driven addly.
    He paid around 10 thousands dollars to be bailed out.
    Moreover, he went to seminars once a week for 6 months.
    Above guy should be jailed alike.
    Is there Criminal Delivery Agreement between the US and Korea?

    Following is the post at LA riot to a blog for blacks right expansion activity.
    “Many blacks did not have anger with all asians during the riots.
    Korea town in Los Angeles was burned down.
    You ask any asian thats not korean in southern california were their towns burned. Noo i didnt think so.
    China town and little tokyo, and thai town left un touch during the riots.
    Those towns where very close to korea town and blacks were walking through other asian towns not putting up a fight or harrassing them.
    Westminister>>Little Siagon (viet town) was un touch.”

  4. comment number 4 by: Brian

    Ken. What the hell does that have to do this the topic? Man, do I really have to trail every comment you make with one of these? Koreatown was near where the riots were taking place. It was a regional issue not a racial one. God!

  5. comment number 5 by: kjeff

    stumpjumper,

    The shopkeeper left the U.S. too.

    To my knowledge, she stood trial, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and received suspended sentence. I don’t know if she left the U.S. after that, but it’s irrevelevant.

    GarlicBreath,
    I have no love for drunk driver, Korean or otherwise, and hope the Cooks get the justice they deserve. And yes, sue the ass out of Hyundai…

    Are these korean values?

    No. Wait…that was rhetorical…right?

    Ken,

    “Many blacks did not have anger with all asians during the riots.
    Korea town in Los Angeles was burned down.
    You ask any asian thats not korean in southern california were their towns burned. Noo i didnt think so.
    China town and little tokyo, and thai town left un touch during the riots.
    Those towns where very close to korea town and blacks were walking through other asian towns not putting up a fight or harrassing them.
    Westminister>>Little Siagon (viet town) was un touch.”

    And your point being…

  6. comment number 6 by: stumpjumper

    Hi, Kjeff

    My point is that it seems Korean people who had
    a trouble with the U.S. laws can just leave the country
    and nothing happen to them afterword.

    http://www.today.ucla.edu/2002/020507civil_unrest.html

    Here is a quote from the link:

    In talking about the 1991 case of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins, who was fatally shot by a Korean-American store owner after she suspected Harlins of shoplifting, UCLA student Eleanor Choi said her parents know the storeowner, Soon Ja Du, personally. Du did not serve any jail time, but Choi said the shopowner suffered the ultimate punishment for an immigrant.

    “She dropped everything and had to go back to Korea,” said Choi, adding that Du also was harassed a lot. “Returning back to your homeland with nothing is the ultimate shame for an immigrant.”

  7. comment number 7 by: stumpjumper

    and I would like to see what is going to happen
    to this high profile case.

    It took them two years to just issue a warrant,
    and they have no idea where he is!

  8. comment number 8 by: HanComplex

    Really despicable. I guess for this Hyundai executive a life means nothing. Is this the norm for Korean executives who work overseas? The fact that Hyundai seems to be obstructing justice makes them complicit with manslaughter. Appalling. Thanks to the Internet, this news will spread far and wide. Another check for Korean pride.

    Koreatown was near where the riots were taking place. It was a regional issue not a racial one.

    That’s what Koreans want to think. The fact is that the other Asian towns where in close proximity YET they were left untouched by the mobs. They specifically targeted Korean-owned businesses. Wanna take a guess as to why? Hmm?

    and I would like to see what is going to happen
    to this high profile case.

    It took them two years to just issue a warrant,
    and they have no idea where he is!

    In these past 2 years, I’m just wondering if Lee has no remorse or guilty conscience to haunt him of what he has done. Worse, he’s got his family involved in this whole thing, too. I’m sure they’re suffering as him, if not worse. It does take a lot to be a man to admit one’s wrongdoing and turn oneself in. I guess it must be impossible for this Korean.

  9. comment number 9 by: Ken

    Kjeff,
    That is mainly for Stumpjumpe who was reminded of with this incident.
    Just cautioning Korea as a whole should cope with this matter rightly or Korea-hater may increase.
    Well, could you answer my questions at the topic discussed before?
    By the way, Discriminative Word Speaker seems still posting, does he?

  10. comment number 10 by: kjeff

    stumpjumper,

    My point is that it seems Korean people who had a trouble with the U.S. laws can just leave the country and nothing happen to them afterword.

    There’s your problem stumpjumper; you’re mixing apples and oranges. Mrs. Soon didn’t just leave the country(unlike Mr. Lee who’s cowardly avoiding trial). She stood trial(twice I think, but not sure), and was sentenced with 5 years probation. What she did AFTER that is not relevant.
    GarlicBreath,

    That’s what Koreans want to think. The fact is that the other Asian towns where in close proximity YET they were left untouched by the mobs. They specifically targeted Korean-owned businesses. Wanna take a guess as to why? Hmm?

    Yeah, I’ll take a guess, although I don’t know why you’re implicitly supporting a lawless act such as a riot. What happened was a response specific to the injustice the African-American community felt of the ‘light’ sentence given to Mrs. Soon, who is a Korean-American, in the killing of Latasha Harlins, an African-American girl. Was there a greater resentments toward Korean-Americans in general? I doubt it. I often can’t tell the difference between a Chinese-American, a Japanese-American, and a Korean-American, do you think African-Americans, most of whom, had limited interactions with Asian-Americans could? Was there a generalization? Sure. You’re certainly doing that…

  11. comment number 11 by: kjeff

    GarlicBreath,
    Sorry, that wasn’t for you. It was directed to HanComplex. Well, you guys are so similar…lol… Although, I think HanComplex behaves a little better in metropolitician.org. Affraid of Mr. Hurt’s spankings perhaps?

  12. comment number 12 by: manfordr

    The fact that:

    “Officials at the California Highway Patrol, who are leading the investigation, said Tuesday that the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Orange County district attorney’s office are working to locate Lee.”

    demonstrates that the State of California is using the full extent of legal options available to them to bring this criminal to justice. If the FBI and DOJ are unable to make any progress with korean law-enoforcement to locate and extradite Lee, its 100% certain that this matter will escalate to a political level between the State Department and the korean equivalent. Just the fact that California has received assistance from the DOJ means that this case is running at full throttle.

    Lee and Hyundai needs to do the right thing and turn himself in before an already ugly situation becomes even worse. Prolonging this situation any further will not bring any positives to korea’s standing in the U.S.

  13. comment number 13 by: HanComplex

    Apparently this ugly conduct of Korean people abroad is not isolated. Besides the Korean wave of prostitutes working outside their country, more Koreans travelling overseas are letting their actions speak volumes about Korean culture.

    Drunken Misconduct Abroad Gives Rise to the ‘Ugly Korean’
    Late last year, the Korean Embassy in Manila sent an official request asking Korean Air and Asiana to “excercise self-restraint in serving alcohol to passengers.” This is because heavy-drinking Korean passengers were causing disturbances on planes. Last Feb. 3, a dead-drunk Korean passenger caused such a disturbance upon arriving at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport — he went so far as to take off his pants in the airport — that within an hour, he was put on plane straight back to Korea. According to an airport official, “He was drunk and caused quite a commotion, pounding on the glass door of the VIP lounge.”

    http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200402/200402200009.html
    No doubt, Koreans are becoming more popular all over. They must be so proud of themselves. KP!

  14. comment number 14 by: GarlicBreath

    Some small justice. I hope Americans will have a better picture of “korean values” after this trial.

  15. comment number 15 by: HanComplex

    A question to Koreans: is it a Korean custom to drop one’s trousers in public when protesting? Besides that Korean above who did so at the airport it seems to be a form of personal declaration of conviction for Korean males.
    http://www.time.com/time/europe/2006/wcup/062406,korea.html
    .

    One of Korea’s most famous singers nearly dropped his trousers in front of about 500 people and a nationwide television audience at a packed news conference yesterday to refute rumors that he had been the victim of a savage attack.

    http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2885575
    .
    Is it a Korean tradition, Brian? Kjeff? Other Koreans?