Taken To The Cleaners

It’s a sad little story of arrogance, intransigence, greed and, possibly, racism. In 1992, Jin Nam Chung, Ki Chung and their son, Soo Chung, moved from their native South Korea to the U.S., intending to start a new life and experience the power of the “American Dream”.

At first, all went well. The family opened their own dry cleaning business, which thrived. Then, along came Roy L. Pearson Jr with a number of suits to be altered. When Mister Pearson returned next day to collect his clothes, a pair of trousers was missing.

Mister Pearson isn’t a nobody. Mister Pearson is an African-American working as an administrative law judge in Washington, D.C. He used his knowledge of Washington’s strict consumer protection laws to attempt what can only be described as “legal extortion”. Pearson’s trousers were recovered within a week, but he refused to accept them, saying they weren’t his – despite being the right size and with his cleaning ticket attached – and demanded recompense to the tune of $15,000. The Chungs offered first $3,000, then $4,600, and finally $12,000, but Pearson refused them all.

Now, having put the Chung’s through hell for five years, he is suing them for $67,000,000.

Why that figure, can be revealed by reading the full story HERE if you missed it on the BBC World News this morning. Judge Roy L Pearson Jnr has certainly achieved world-wide infamy.

The real question to be asked is, why? Why has this man hounded a family for five years over something as innocuous as a pair of trousers?

Obviously, this has nothing to do with mislaid clothing. This is one man exercising his own supposed superiority, arrogance, greed and racism over those in a weaker position than himself.

This story is interesting because hidden within it is an analogy perhaps not immediately obvious. It may become clearer, however, if I suggest that the Chungs, despite their ruined lives, bitter frustrations, and disillusion with the “American Dream”, probably won’t resort to attacking the Manhattan skyline.

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7 Replies to “Taken To The Cleaners”

  1. You know, you’re right. This is obviously about something more than a missing pair of trousers. It would be interesting to hear Judge Pearson’s confession of the matter, if he should ever deign to do so.

    But i am confused. What does a litigation case have to do with terrorism? I am assuming that you are referring to the 911 attacks, correct me if i am wrong. Ok, if you mean the Chung’s will not retaliate with terrorism, then who are you saying is responsible for the 911 attacks? For what retaliatory cause? And especially, with what solid set of proofs?

    You have written an excellent piece about intolerance. However, your writing has raised questions for me about your own prejudices.

  2. In cases like this the plaintiff should have to put up 10% of his claim as escrow money to be given to the defendant when the plaintiff loses.

  3. Terribly wrong of the judge to use his office to intimidate people. Probably a republican. I hope he gets the book thrown at him and a few other things, too.

  4. Anan – the previous centuries have seen many areas of the world subjugated by imperialism. In the nineteenth century it was the British and Europeans imposing themselves on weaker nations. In the twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, America has been the major culprit. Middle Eastern and Asian nations have borne much of the brunt of this imperialism. The effect on the victors, a sense of arrogant superiority. For those unfortunates ground under the heel of invading forces, ruined lives, bitterness and frustration resulted. The observations I derived from this story were of an American man with an arrogant sense of superiority to an immigrant family he was unfeelingly bending to his will, persecuting, destroying, for no other purpose than self-gratification. My analogy portrayed Judge Pearson as American imperialism, the Chungs represented weaker nations suppressed by that domination. I referred to 9/11, as I believe 9/11 was the inevitable reaction of the weak striking back at the indifference of the mighty. The Chungs don’t have the ability to strike back. Their “American Dream” is now a nightmare. They are being driven out of America and back to their homeland by one man who is truly representative of the arrogance and superiority of a nation.

    Al – an excellent idea. It may make the Pearson’s of this world think twice before subjecting others to such bullying.

    PM – I have been unable to ascertain Judge Pearson’s political credentials, though you may well be right.

  5. I saw this one, too, as a courtesy of the BBC. It is in it’s absurdity almost incomprehensible to me. I guess, this goes some way in explaining why the lawyers are less respected members of the American society than the used car salesmen.

    I have never had the pleasure living in the U.S., so, I am not pretending being an expert. However, somewhere, sometime ago, I read and article about how bad the relations are between the African-Americans and Asians, and especially Koreans. If my memory serves me right, it was put on the account of Koreans, as new comers, making huge improvements in their lives in a short period of time. There is, according that article, a deep resentment by the African-Americans over the fact that these Koreans, in a relatively short time, have become their shop keepers and even land lords. One wonders if there is any truth in that?

  6. I am glad that I came back to see if anybody responded to my question! I really appreciate this, RJ, and thank you for your trouble!

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