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The afterimage of immigration discrimination and overlapping with Korean society in the U.S. 50 years ago
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The afterimage of immigration discrimination and overlapping with Korean society in the U.S. 50 years ago
  • weekly, walkintoKorea
  • 승인 2023.11.08 13:11
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Lee Chol-soo case, which was 50 years ago, was made into a documentary film of "Free Chol Soo Lee." This is high time to sound an alarm about discrimination against immigrants in the United States.
Kang Hyung-won (left) and Nam Ki-woong, CEO of Connect Pictures, are interviewing with the Seoul Economic Daily at the Korea Creative Content Agency in Cheonggyecheon-ro, Seoul on the 6th.
Kang Hyung-won (left) and Nam Ki-woong, CEO of Connect Pictures, are interviewing with the Seoul Economic Daily at the Korea Creative Content Agency in Cheonggyecheon-ro, Seoul on the 6th.

“50 years ago, a Chinese gang boss was shot and killed in San Francisco’s Chinatown, but the late Lee Chol-soo, a young man of Korean descent, took the blame. Today, this incident has been re-examined through a documentary film called ‘Free Chol Soo Lee, and I hope it will serve as an opportunity to sound an alarm against prejudice and discrimination against North Korean defectors, multicultural families, and illegal migrant workers who make a living in our society.”

On the 6th, Former Reuters reporter Kang Hyeong-won and Nam Ki-woong, CEO of Connect Pictures, held a joint interview with the Seoul Economic Daily at the Content Agency in Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, “At the time, for the first time in U.S. history, Asian communities, including local Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, and Indians, as well as compatriots, came together”. “We came out together,” he expressed. Former reporter Kang, along with former Sacramento Union reporter Lee Kyung-won, who first reported on this case and ignited a life-saving movement, reported Mr. Lee's release from prison.

Lee, who died in 2014, was sentenced to life in prison after he was identified as the culprit for false testimony by white people when the murder took place in Chinatown on June 3, 1973. Later, he was imprisoned in a prison where violence and murder were rampant and was caught in a murder case while struggling to survive the gang's attack. At the time, Lee said in a prison media interview, "I'm not an angel. But it's not the devil either. I'm not really a murderer," he burst into tears.

Lee, who was born in Korea due to the sexual assault of his mother, later moved to the U.S. with his mother who married to the U.S. Forces Korea, but he still had no education and moved around from job to job. However, his writing skills were good enough to show his talent. In 1982, the 10th year in prison, he was released from prison after a retrial, but he fell into alcohol and drug addiction, blaming himself for not meeting the expectations of those who launched the life-saving campaign. Former reporter Kang said, "This case was almost buried, but Lee's in-depth report in the mainstream media caused the Korean community and religious community to seethe," adding, "Asians gathered to raise $200,000 and support the court, which impressed me." Former reporter Lee said, "The role of the late lawyer Yoo Jae-gun in the life-saving movement was very important”.

Reporter Lee Kyung-won (right) visits the graves of Martin Luther II and Coretta Scott King in Atlanta in September 2007 with reporters Lee Cheol-soo (center) and Kang Hyung-won (left) and takes a commemorative photo. Photo courtesy = Reporter Kang Hyung-won
Reporter Lee Kyung-won (right) visits the graves of Martin Luther II and Coretta Scott King in Atlanta in September 2007 with reporters Lee Chol-soo (center) and Kang Hyung-won (left) and takes a commemorative photo. Photo courtesy = Reporter Kang Hyung-won

The case was transformed into an 86-minute documentary film last year in cooperation with freelance video director Lee Sung-min and producer Kim Soo-hyun. Mainstream U.S. newspapers and broadcasters called it "a strong indictment of structural racism and the judicial system”. This is why the film has been officially invited to more than 20 film festivals around the world, including the Sundance Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival. CEO Nam said, "The Lee Chol-soo case is in line with the structural discrimination that is prevalent in our society today," and appealed, "But it is an independent documentary film, so there are few opportunities to meet the audience".

This emphasized that we should pay attention to discrimination in our society while watching "Free Chol Soo Lee." They say that the reality that many Asian immigrants, like Lee's case, are being discriminated against because they cannot overcome the language and cultural barriers of the United States is overlapping in other words. Former reporter Kang stated, "The story of 'Free Chol Soo Lee' who lived as a 'gendarmes' in the law of life that the survivors are strong is a touching record that shows the strong DNA of Koreans".

"There are still various discriminations against immigrants in the United States, and the same is true of our society. We can form a healthy community and grow into a truly advanced country only when we reach out to warm hands such as language and cultural education."


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