|Edward Song Lee, 1973-1992|
|All in all, by the time the riots in Los Angeles subsided, 54 people were dead. However, out of all these victims, only one was Korean-American: eighteen-year-old Edward Song Lee, who was mistakenly shot by a Korean-American storeowner who thought Lee was a looter. Lee died on April 30th, less than one month away from his nineteenth birthday.
Before Lee left his home on April 29th, he told his mom that "Koreans have been here for twenty years now--this morning everything has been up in flames." Lee felt that if he didn't go out and fight the looters and the rioters, the same thing would happen again in ten years. He even urged his mother to go out and fight, basing his statements on Hangju San Sung: the battle during a Japanese invasion of Korea when women stormed out of their homes and fought alongside the men, using stones that they carried in their aprons (Hangju means "apron").
When Jung Hui Lee, Edward's mother, woke the next morning, her daughter came into her room with a copy of the Korean Times. Between sobs, the daughter told her mother that she believed the picture on the front page (see above) was Edward. Nevertheless, Jung Hui could not believe it; after all, the boy on the first page of the paper was wearing a black shirt--Edward went out wearing white. But, as she later found out, because the Korean Times was printed in only black and white, the "black" of the shirt was really her son's blood.
|Over three thousand people attended Lee's funeral at the Ardmore Recreation Center in Koreatown, Los Angeles, California.
Speaking out against the violence that caused the death of her eldest son, Jung Hui stated, "All the time, I thought it was one man who shot him...but if I think of it broadly, it was not an individual. It was not just an individual matter. Something is drastically wrong." Nevertheless, even after seeing her son in his coffin, when she was interviewed for Sa-I-Gu, a documentary produced about the Korean-American victims, she admitted that she still waits for her son to come home.