Family of UN Shooter Seeks Leniency
Oct. 18, 2002
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NEW YORK (AP) _ The family of an Illinois postal worker charged with firing a pistol at United Nations headquarters pleaded for leniency for him Friday, saying he was trying to draw attention to the plight of North Koreans, not hurt people.
Steven Kim, 57, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was arrested Oct. 3 after he fired a .357 revolver and threw out leaflets denouncing the North Korean government.
No one was injured, but two bullets hit a women's restroom and an American Express office in a U.N. building.
``I'm not a supporter of the way he did it,'' Kim's 26-year-old son, Steven Kim Jr., said at a news conference Friday. ``His main goal was to bring attention to the cause.''
Kim is charged with carrying a firearm and making a violent attack on foreign officials. If convicted, he likely would face five to six years in prison for firing the shots and an additional years 10 for a gun charge.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin N. Fox ordered him held without bail earlier this month after concluding he was a danger to the community.
Except for one brief phone conversation after his arrest, Kim's family has not seen or spoken to him, they said at a news conference at the offices of the Korean-American Association of Greater New York.
``He had absolutely no intention of hurting anybody. My dad is absolutely against violence,'' Kim's son said.
He and Kim's wife, Nancy, who lives in Des Plaines, Ill., were joined by supporters from the New York Korean-American community that included a newly-formed committee to petition for leniency on Kim's behalf.
Nancy Kim, speaking through a translator, said her husband often spoke passionately about conditions in North Korea. She said he was investigated by South Korean officials for political protest activity before coming to the United States in the early 1980s.
The Korean peninsula was divided in 1945, and communist North Korea has been in an economic crisis since the collapse of its main benefactor, the Soviet Union, almost 11 years ago.
President Bush has accused North Korea of being part of an ``axis of evil.'' Just this week, the communist country revealed that it had secretly started a nuclear weapons program in violation of its past agreements with the United States.