Chol Soo Lee Sparked Early Pan-Asian American Movement (1952-2014)

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CHOL SOO LEE 1952-2014

Korean American immigrant's struggle for justice sparked an early pan-Asian American Movement

Koream Journal, News Report, by Julie Ha Posted: Dec 04, 2014


Distributed by New America Media


By Julie Ha, Koream Journal

CHOL SOO LEE WITH JOURNALIST KW LEEChol Soo Lee, a Korean American whose wrongful conviction in a 1973 San Francisco murder case galvanized a historic pan-Asian American movement to win his freedom, died Tuesday at age 62.

 He passed away after complications related to surgery, according to friends. (Photo LtoR: Chol Soo Lee with journalist K.W. Lee, at press conference date unknown)

 Lee, an immigrant from South Korea who came to the U.S. around middle-school age, was arrested by San Francisco police in June 1973 for the murder of Yip Yee Tak, a local Chinatown gang leader, who was shot dead in broad daylight.

 Though Lee was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison a year later, he maintained his innocence. Thanks to a group of Asian American supporters, who rallied to his side, a Korean American journalist by the name of K.W. Lee (no relation to Chol Soo Lee) began investigating the case.

 Lee, then a staff writer for the Sacramento Union, would write more than 100 articles that raised questions about Chol Soo Lee’s conviction. Chol Soo was much shorter than eyewitness descriptions of the gunman and had a mustache that not a single witness mentioned to police. Notably, Lee was often identified as Chinese during his trial.


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