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Widow In Retirement Home Gets Threatening, Anti-Asian Letter Rejoicing In Husband’s Death, Police Say

“Now that Byong is gone makes it one less Asian to put up with in Leisure World,” the anonymous author wrote Byong Choi’s 82-year-old widow at a Seal Beach, California retirement community.

By Dorian Geiger
Hate Crimes Are Designed To Strike Fear In The Broader Community

A California widow received a bigoted and “threatening” note, which appeared to celebrate the death of her Korean-American husband, police said.

The xenophobic note, postmarked to the 82-year-old woman’s retirement home the day of her spouse’s funeral, allegedly warned her to “go back to [her] country.” 

The author, who appeared to praise her husband Byong Choi’s death, also wrote of an Asian takeover at Leisure World retirement home in Seal Beach, according to the Seal Beach Police Department.

“Now that Byong is gone makes it one less Asian to put up with in Leisure World,” the note starts. “You fricken (sic) Asians are taking over our American community. It is not resting well with all and everybody who lives here — true statement!!!”

The handwritten note concluded by telling Byong Choi’s wife, identified by the Washington Post as Yong, to leave California. She received the message three days after her husband was laid to rest, according to police.

“Watch out!” the person wrote. “Pack your bags and go back to your country where you belong!”

Asian American Letter Seal Beach

Choi’s family was “disturbed” by the note, Seal Beach police said.

“The real essence of this is that the family felt scared,” Lt. Nick Nicholas told KTLA. 

The letter is now being investigated as a hate crime. Police linked the note to an alarming rise in hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Across the county we are seeing more and more violence committed against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders,” Seal Beach Police Chief Philip Gonshak added. “We will not allow this to happen in Seal Beach.”

This month, a white gunman opened fire at a trio of Atlanta massage parlors, killing eight people, six of whom were Asian women. A motive in the case hasn't been officially established, but hate crime charges remain possible and members of the Asian-American community have expressed a growing concern over a rise in anti-Asian bias incidents throughout the country over the last year.

Asain American Hate Pd

The Chois were married for nearly 57 years.

“To have somebody rejoice his death, threaten my mother, tell us to go back home — this is our home,” the Choi’s daughter, Claudia Choi, told KTLA. “They’ve lived here longer than they’ve lived anywhere else.”

Byong Choi was an active businessman in his younger years, his family said. He came to the U.S. to study decades ago. Choi’s daughter said he’d formed close relationships with other residents at Leisure World.

“He loved his neighbors, and many of them have reached out to me saying how much they loved him too,” Claudia Choi added.

The note’s sender has “a lot of hate in their heart,” she added. 

The Seal Beach senior community also decried the suspected hate crime.

“As a community, we must be committed that acts of hate, racism, and intolerance against Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) will not be tolerated,” Leisure World said in a statement. “Through community unity, we must join together and ensure that the unspeakable act by a single individual, yet unknown, will never happen again.”

Anyone with information related to the incident is urged to contact the Seal Beach Police Department at 562-799-4100.

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