SEAL BEACH (CBSLA) — It was a show of solidarity Wednesday night as people gathered at the front gates of Leisure World Seal Beach to demonstrate in support of a grieving widow who was sent a hate-filled letter the day she buried her husband.
Last Friday, Claudia Choi and her mother laid 83-year-old Byong to rest. That same day, a letter telling the family to "go back to your country where you belong," was postmarked.
In cursive writing, the letter's anonymous author wrote, "Now that Byong is gone, there's one less Asian to put up with in Leisure World."
Police said the envelope had a Los Angeles postmark, but they said they could not immediately confirm if it was written by someone from the retirement community.
"I think it's horrible," Cindy Yancey, a Leisure World resident, said. "I think it's just atrocious, I can believe anybody could be that bad."
Yancey said she could not believe that one of her neighbors might have written the letter, but both she and her friend Sal Bommarito said Asian Americans were scared.
"I did walk with one of my high school friends, who is Asian, and now she refers to me as her bodyguard and we've been walking for a long time," Bommarito said. "She feels threatened."
Kuksun Chu, another Leisure World resident, said she was advising her friends to be careful after a man driving by made an obscene gesture at her as she stepped off a curb in the community.
"I used to walk a lot, but now I'm scared to walk in my own neighborhood," she said. "I don't know who's going to harm me. I don't know what they think of me. It's scary though."
Sam Kim, a pastor at Leisure World, said 1,500 Koreans live in the community. He said he has been treated poorly by his own neighbor.
"Sometimes very unkind," he said. "Unkind."
Detectives said they were working with postal police to try and identify the person who wrote the letter. They said they were using DNA, handwriting and fingerprint analysis to track down the suspect.
for more features.