Tag Archives: immigration


Nan-hui Jo Released on Bond From Immigration Detention

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

It’s been almost a year since Nan-hui Jo was arrested on child abduction charges after fleeing to South Korea with her then-infant daughter to escape from an allegedly abusive relationship. On Thursday, Jo’s supporters rejoiced at the announcement of the mother being released on bond from immigration detention.

“We are incredibly relieved that Nan-Hui has finally been released and is one step closer to resolving this year-long nightmare. It is unthinkable that ICE was days away from permanently separating a mother from her child because of a system that prioritizes deportation quotas over the well-being of a family,” Saira Hussain, staff attorney at Asian Law Caucus, said in a statement. “We must recognize this case within the context of the growing criminalization of survivors of domestic violence and the undocumented community.”

In 2009, Jo took her daughter to South Korea after her visa expired in hopes of escaping physical and emotional abuse inflicted by her former partner, child’s biological father and Iraq war veteran Jesse Charlton. During the five years Jo resided in Korea, Charlton had filed a complaint with law enforcement, claiming that his girlfriend abducted their daughter and failed to respond to his numerous emails.

On July 29, 2014, Jo was arrested upon landing in Hawaii and was forcibly separated from her daughter, who is currently in the care of Charlton. While she awaited trial on child abduction charges, Jo was incarcerated in Yolo County, Calif. for over nine months.

Her first trial ended in a hung jury last December, but she was convicted to a misdemeanor in her second trial in March. Although she was immediately released due to time served in Yolo County jail, she was later taken into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody and put behind bars again, this time at Yuba County jail.

Jo was released last Friday on a $1,500 bond issued by a San Francisco immigration judge pending her immigration hearing.

Jo’s case has drawn international support from domestic violence and immigration advocates, who have rallied behind the hashtag #StandWithNanHui. Several organizations, including the Korean American Coalition to End Domestic Abuse and Asian Law Caucus, have supported Jo by fundraising for legal fees, calling on ICE for her release and attending her criminal trials.

In a press release, #StandWithNanHui organizers reiterated that Jo’s release from immigration detention does not mark an end to her legal battles, as her family proceedings are still ongoing. Jo is currently waiting for approval on her U visa and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) visa applications. Her child abduction conviction is also in the process of being appealed.

Jo’s campaign organizers and legal team plan to hold a press conference next Wednesday, July 29 to mark the one-year anniversary of her arrest.

See Also


Fighting for Nan-hui Jo

Nan-hui Jo Convicted of Abducting Her Daughter


Featured image by Keshy Jeong and Jio Im, courtesy of Stand With Nan-hui Jo

subscribe button


‘Han in the Upper Left': A History of KA Immigration to the Pacific Northwest

photography by THOMAS PARK

It’s difficult to not be intrigued by the title: Han in the Upper Left, a broad and ambitious book that looks at the history of Korean Americans in the Pacific Northwest. The title references the Korean word for deep sorrow and longing—han—and combines it with a nod to the lyrics of the Seattle-based Blue Scholars, who rap about being “secluded in the upper left” corner of the U.S. The latter allusion to the outspoken, politically charged hip-hop group hints at the fact that this book is no dry, scholarly text.

Indeed, Moon-Ho Jung, the editor of Han in the Upper Left, will tell you outright that this lithe, but substantive, 100-page paperback has an agenda.

“Every book or every piece of historical scholarship is either politically motivated or has a political message,” said Jung, an associate professor of history at the University of Washington. “So we definitely wanted to make an argument through the book, not simply try to document our past, but to frame it, interpret it.”

Jung, along with the Korean American Historical Society, unveiled Han in the Upper Left during a June 4 launch party at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum. The book’s release coincides with the museum’s exhibit, Bojagi: Unwrapping Korean American Identities, running through November.

And Korean American identity, in all its diversity and complexity, is the driving question in Han in the Upper Left.

“Who are Korean Americans?” writes Jung in the book. “We are a people shaped by han, a collective sense of suffering, oppression and hardship. Yet we are a people who survived, struggled on. And if we are to survive as a people, we must forge identities and communities that reflect our history.”

Cul-Books-JJ15-Han-ImpactFrom L to R: Matthew Benuska of the Korean American Historical Society, its founder Ick-whan Lee and Han in the Upper Left editor Moon-Ho Jung.

Drawing from newspapers, old documents, oral histories and original research done by the Korean American Historical Society, Jung, the society’s president, tries to trace that vast history, starting with how and why Koreans came to settle in the western North American region. The story of Koreans in the Pacific Northwest—an area including Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Western Montana—is closely linked to those of Korean Americans elsewhere in the western U.S. Many of the first Koreans to the Seattle area came from the sugar plantations of Hawaii in search of better lives on the mainland. But these migrants found themselves once more working as laborers on the Great Northern Railway, or for salmon canneries further north, or even back in the fields harvesting fruits and vegetables. Like many of the East Asian immigrants to the western U.S., these early settlers were predominantly male. Many women would come later as “picture brides.”

Old photographs and other archival material pepper the book and help bring the narrative to life. One eye-catching image is a black-and-white newspaper clipping showing a smiling Korean woman and her American military husband.

Taken from a 1951 edition of the Seattle Daily Times, the headline reads, “First Korean War Bride Speechless at City’s Greeting.” Jung explains that this war bride, Yung Soon Morgan, came to American shores with much fanfare and was even greeted by “film star Rita Hayworth and a bouquet of red roses … in what was dubbed ‘America’s traditional family welcome.’” But, upon studying the footnotes, the reader will see that other stories printed around that same time period openly wonder: “Some Aliens May Take Shortcut to Citizenship.” In other words, the seemingly warm American embrace of strangers to this shore was not quite as it seemed.

Later in the 20th century, it was not work in Alaska or on the fields that drew Koreans—it was the university. In the 1940s, the University of Washington was one of the only places where members of the armed forces, preparing for deployment, could learn Korean. This military training course, taught by Korean Americans Harold and Sonia Sunoo, would eventually end, but the two language teachers would become the first to teach Korean at the well-known college. However, despite being well-educated, discrimination against men like Sunoo was still common, and he, like many Asian Americans at the time, couldn’t find housing in the city’s University District. The chair of his department at the university famously told him, “I don’t believe any Oriental student except the Japanese … can obtain a Ph.D. from a first-class university in America.”

But Jung does not just focus on how Koreans arrived; he also looks at the political history of people in this area. He writes about how and why various organizations formed, including the politically progressive Saghgnoksoo, which has welcomed those who may not have a home in many Korean American churches—such as LGBT Koreans.

The historian deliberately makes a point of including those Korean Americans that may feel marginalized within the greater community. “One of the things we try to highlight in the book is Korean Americans who may not appear to be typical Korean Americans—multiracial Korean Americans, Korean adoptees…,” he said. “So I think, for that reason alone, you’ll get a different sense of who and what Korean Americans are.”

Cul-Books-JJ15-Han-Signing2Jung signs copies of the book at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum.

At the June 4 book launch, Jung tested the audience of about 75 on their knowledge of the regional Korean American community. Some of the “pop quizzes” answers—like the fact some 20 percent of Koreans in Washington state are adoptees, or a quarter are hapa—elicited loud “oohs” and “aahs.”

“We’re a very fast growing population—one of the fastest [growing] ethnic groups across the United States, but especially Washington state—and we are incredibly heterogeneous,” he said. “We are not what we appear to be. And we have built many organizations, political groups and world views shaped by those differences.”

In a way, Han in the Upper Left has been an effort in the making since 1985, the year of the Korean American Historical Society’s founding. The organization always had the intention of putting forward comprehensive works on Korean American history—and for years it has with journals and oral histories. A book, however, began to feel like a pipe dream, as original editors and members succumbed to illness and age. Robert H. Kim, a now-retired professor from Western Washington University, remembers teaching in the 1960s and ’70s, when there was little material available outside of dry demographic studies. Teaching his students about Korean Americans was a challenge simply because there wasn’t any real information on who this burgeoning community was.

Kim started what would become Han in the Upper Left about seven years ago, but had to step away from the project for health reasons. While the final book isn’t near “the magnum opus” the team had originally envisioned, he said he was happy to see it finally in print.

“From now on the second, third and fourth generation of Asian Americans should try to keep our memories alive,” Kim said. “I strongly believe community without memory is no community. We are what we are because of our memories.”

For Jung, the book’s publication is not only a “relief,” but also gratifying in that it gives the scholar a chance to relay that “political message” he referenced earlier. It’s a message that’s clearly stated at the book’s conclusion: “We cannot ignore, dismiss or malign the most vulnerable among us—the poor, queer and transgender youth, battered women, undocumented workers. Attuned to our differences, to enduring hierarchies all around us, we can perhaps begin to imagine identities and communities that grapple with our varied and fractured histories to move to a more just world,” Jung writes. “These aspirations are the ongoing legacies and contradictions of han. They should shape interpretations of our past and visions of our struggles ahead, in the upper left and beyond.”

See Also


Korean Australians Thriving Down Under

Euny Hong Explores How Korea Got So ‘Cool’ in New Book


This article was published in the June/July 2015 issue of KoreAm. Subscribetoday! To purchase a single issue copy of the June/July issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).


subscribe button

social issues covers

25 Years of KoreAm Covers: Highlighting Key Social Issues

To mark the 25th anniversary of KoreAm Journal, we’re revisiting some memorable covers from the magazine’s archives.

Take a look at some of the creative talent, athletes, influential figures, social issues and tragic events that have appeared on our cover. The panoply of images, we hope, will serve as a historical flashback, a glimpse into the people that inspired us, the issues we explored and the events that called for deeper reflection over the last 25 years.

Here are some key social issues KoreAm has covered in the past 25 years.


The Queer Issue (Aug. 1993): KoreAm explored what it was like being Korean and part of the LGBTQ community, acknowledging that in putting together the issue, “we were forced to consider life without family or the sense of community we sometimes take for granted.”


Where are all the good Korean men? (Oct. 1999): A provocative headline for the cover story that featured several female perspectives on the issue of dating Korean men.


LA Riots: 10 Years Later (April 2002): Ten years after Sa-i-gu, KoreAm put together a package of stories and reflections on the L.A. riots.


American Passage: Immigrant Heritage (Jan. 2003): KoreAm celebrates a century of Korean immigration to the United States.


The High Price of Gambling (Aug. 2008): KoreAm looks into the high stakes of gambling in the Korean American community.


Health Care Reform (Nov. 2009): Before health care reform was signed into law, KoreAm looked at how Korean Americans have one of the highest uninsured rates in the U.S.


Raising Next Crop of Korean Americans (May 2010): A story about third-generation Korean Americans, “the grandchildren of the original post-1965 wave of Korean immigrants.”


LA riots: 20 Years Later (April 2012): For the 20-year anniversary of Sa-i-gu, KoreAm retraced the days and nights of the 1992 L.A. riots.


The Adoption Issue (Nov. 2013): KoreAm hones in on adoptee perspectives, voices and experiences to dig further into the collective Korean American diasporic experience.

In the next chapter, we will share some of most influential athletes who have graced the KoreAm cover.


Read the previous chapter, Documenting Tragedy

This article was published in the April/May 2015 issue of KoreAm. Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the April/May issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).

button_3 copy

new photo

Fighting for Nan-hui Jo

story by SEUNG Y. LEE
with additional reporting by VIJI SUNDARAM, New America Media

Woodland, Calif.—Dozens of supporters of Nan-hui Jo packed a Sacramento-area courtroom on April 28, donning purple shirts and pins to express solidarity with the single mother whose legal case has galvanized the Korean American community and advocacy groups focused on domestic violence prevention and immigrants’ rights.

They appeared for Jo’s sentencing at the hands of a state judge. In early March, a jury found the 43-year-old guilty of felony child abduction for fleeing to South Korea with her American-born daughter, allegedly to escape abusive behavior from the girl’s father.

At the Yolo County courthouse, Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg, after noting this was a “unique case,” reduced Jo’s conviction to a misdemeanor and sentenced her to 175 days in jail—time already served—and three years’ informal probation. The judge also ordered Jo’s release from the county jail where she has spent the past eight months.

Nevertheless, as of KoreAm’s press date, the chances of Jo’s reunion with her 6-year-old daughter—who is currently in the custody of the father, Iraq war veteran and substitute teacher Jesse Charlton—remain uncertain.

Following her sentencing, Jo was transferred into the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has a deportation hold on the mother.

Immediately after the sentencing, Jo’s supporters gathered around the Yolo County courthouse steps, carrying signs and banners that read, “Stand with Nan-hui.”

“We will continue to fight for justice because [Jo] is still at risk of being detained and deported by ICE,” said Hyejin Shim, a spokeswoman for the Oakland-based national “Stand With Nan-hui” campaign. “This trial has been a mess of victim-blaming, anti-immigrant and sexist rhetoric that has undergirded the whole process from start to finish.”


Nanhui jo

Jo first came to the United States in 2002 on a student visa to study photography at the University of Southern California. Three years later, she married a U.S. citizen and moved to Connecticut. When her husband became abusive, Jo obtained a temporary restraining order and moved to Sacramento.

Jo met Charlton in 2007 while taking a photography class at Sacramento City College. They became romantically involved and had a daughter. They named her Vitz Da, which means “all light” in Korean, although the girl is known as Hwi.

Jo’s visa problems began in 2009. She received a letter from ICE, informing her that her student visa had expired and that her husband no longer supported her green card petition. ICE told Jo she should voluntarily leave the country. At the time, the aspiring filmmaker was working as a waitress at several Korean restaurants.

Around this time, Jo was also experiencing volatility in her relationship with Charlton. During Jo’s trial in February, the 32-year-old war veteran admitted that he once grabbed Jo by her throat and threw her up against the wall after he claimed she tossed their infant daughter to him. Charlton, who served two tours of duty as a machine gunner in Mosul, Iraq, testified that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder that causes memory loss, depression and erratic behavior.

Charlton, according to Jo’s attorneys, also testified that Jo called the police on him, after he broke his hand hitting the wall near her head and punched the car’s steering wheel while she was in the car with him. No charges were filed against Charlton and the police told him to leave, take some space and come back later, according to court transcripts.

At trial, Jo said that she left for South Korea in 2009 with Hwi, then just an infant, because she no longer had legal status in the U.S., had no family members in the U.S. and has limited English proficiency. She also cited her fear of being around an abusive domestic partner.

Jo said she told Charlton of her decision to leave the country; he said she did not.

While Jo was in Korea, Charlton filed a complaint with law enforcement, claiming his girlfriend had abducted their child. In the nearly five years Jo was in Korea, Charlton said he sent Jo scores of emails, letting her know he had finished college, found work as a substitute teacher and that he missed his daughter. Jo responded to only one email, he said.

Last July, Jo flew to Hawaii on a tourist visa with Hwi to visit potential schools for her daughter. When Jo arrived at the airport, a U.S. child abduction unit, officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Charlton were waiting for her. She was arrested on child abduction charges.


Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 3.32.24 PM

As word of her case spread worldwide, Jo has seen an outpouring of support from such groups as the Korean American Coalition to End Domestic Abuse, the Asian Law Caucus and Immigration Youth Coalition.

Supporters from Seoul to Sacramento have sent Jo dozens of letters and drummed up support through social media, arguing the case should not have been prosecuted at all since Jo is a domestic violence victim. In November, Jo filed an application for a “U Visa,” given to undocumented immigrants who can prove they were victims of a crime.

One of those supporters, Juhee Kwon, said that Jo has been “a wonderful mother” to Hwi and deserves to have her child back. “For her, living without her daughter is unthinkable,” she said.

Groups have also raised money for Jo’s legal costs, hiring well-known criminal appellate attorney Dennis Riordan to handle the mother’s case post-verdict.

Shortly after taking the case, Riordan filed a motion requesting either an acquittal of Jo’s conviction or a new trial, arguing the jurors were given improper instructions on the definition of “malice” and thus failed to consider Jo’s state of mind when she fled for Korea with Hwi. The motion was denied.

In a press conference after the April 28 sentencing, Riordan said he plans to file an appeal.

“Judge Rosenberg issued a thoughtful sentence that, under other circumstances, can be considered fair and just. But he’s dead wrong on this case,” the attorney said. “This conviction will be reversed.”


Featured image courtesy of Cynthia Fong of the #StandWithNanHui Organizing Committee. 

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Jo illegally reentered the U.S. in 2014. In fact, Jo entered the country on a short-term tourist visa. The previous version also stated that Jo’s ex-husband served a one-year prison term for domestic violence. In fact, there is no indication that he served prison time. Finally, a previous sentence stating that “Charlton was told to stay away from Jo” had incorrect attribution and has been updated to reflect that Charlton was asked to leave by police and come back later, per the court transcript. KoreAm regrets the errors.

subscribe button


Foreign Spouses Must Pass a Korean Language Exam to Immigrate into South Korea

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Last February, South Korea passed an amendment that requires foreign spouses of Korean nationals to have a basic proficiency in the Korean language as a condition of entry. However, the revised law has stirred much protest, as more than 1,000 foreign spouses have been barred from immigrating into the country because they are unable to pass the government-issued Korean language exam.

Since there is a scarcity of marriageable women in rural areas in Korea, the new immigration law mainly affects farmers who have enlisted the help of international marriage brokers to find brides from overseas, primarily from Southeast Asia.

On March 27, a Korean man in his 60s set a matchmaking agency on fire after his Vietnamese wife failed the basic Korean language test and was denied entry into South Korea. The fire killed one of the company’s representatives.

One farmer in his 40s, whose Cambodian wife failed the exam after the two had already married in her home country, told SBS, “It’s a difficult situation that you have to pass an exam in order to come into the country. My wife in Cambodia also feels this way and I miss her a lot.”

The South Korean government initially created the amendment in response to the high number of domestic violence cases involving international couples, many of which were a result of communication problems. The government also cited the high divorce rate of international marriages, which is now set at 10,000 divorces per year.

Matchmaking agencies have filed complaints to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. One agency spokesman said that the law is harmful as it forces husbands who have already registered their marriage to “give up their partnership with their wives.”

Among online comments, some have said that the amended law is fair, claiming that communication is key to a healthy marriage. Others expressed concerns over how spouses from western countries, such as the United States and England, would fare on the language exam.

One of the top comments on Naver read: “I agree with this law because a marriage isn’t a product to buy and sell. If foreign spouses enter Korea and do not have a basic understanding of the Korean language, it would be difficult for them to adapt to Korea. It would be good if Korean citizenship is given to them if they’ve lived in Korea for over five years.”

Another commenter wrote, “In America, foreign spouses must meet language proficiency requirements, and also understand basic American laws and history. Needless to say, this is the right policy.”

Meanwhile, the South Korean government has announced that it has no plans to revise the law.


Featured image via chrissantosra.wordpress.com


#KeepAdamHome Sparks a Dialogue on the Deportation of Adult Adoptees

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

The pending deportation of Adam Thomas Crapser, an undocumented Korean American adoptee and survivor of severe child abuse, has sparked a dialogue on a major loophole in immigration law, according to NBC News.

When Adam first arrived in the U.S. in 1979 as a Korean adoptee, his childhood quickly turned into a nightmare. He and his biological sister were adopted by the Wright family in Michigan, where he suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse. In 1986, the Wrights relinquished their parental rights to Child Services without completing Adam’s naturalization paperwork. As wards of the state, Adam and his sister became separated from each other. After living in a group home for a year, Adam was formally adopted by Thomas and Dolly-Jean Crapser in Oregon.

The Crapsers, along with their biological sons, subjected Adam and seven other foster children to years of heinous abuse and torture. In an interview with Gazillion Strong, Adam revealed that he would get choked, beaten or burnt on a daily basis during the five years he lived with his abusive adoptive family. In 1991, the Crapsers were arrested and convicted of multiple counts of child abuse, child sexual abuse and child rape.

Adam, now a husband and father of three children, faces possible deportation because both sets of adoptive parents failed to complete his naturalization process and refused to provide him with his adoption papers, according to the blog Reappropriate. As an undocumented American, Adam has struggled to attend school or find work for most of his adult life. If deported, he will be sent to a country where he does not even speak the language.

Immigration activists are now advocating for an amendment to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA). While CCA grants automatic citizenship to all children under the age of 18 legally adopted outside of the U.S., the act does not have a grandfather clause. This means that adult adoptees who were 18 at the time the act went into effect remain undocumented and unprotected from deportation.

The CCA amendment was previously applied to the Senate’s immigration bill in 2013 and had strong support from both the Senate and the House of Representatives. However, since the immigration bill failed to pass, the proposed CCA amendment has been abandoned.

If the amendment is reintroduced and passed, then Adam as well as hundreds of other undocumented international adoptees who were born before 1983 can receive retroactive citizenship.

“America signed a bill to bring us over from Korea in a military action,” Adam told Gazillion Voices. “They promised us a better life over here. All I’m asking is to keep their promise and do what they said they’d do. And if not for me, then for my children.”

Advocacy group 18MillionRising has launched the social media campaign #KeepAdamHome to raise awareness for Adam’s case. A petition is also being circulated online to help stop his deportation.

Adam’s deportation hearing is scheduled for April 2, 2015.


Featured image via 18MillionRising


Feds Arrest Leaders of Alleged Student Visa Fraud Ring in L.A.

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Federal authorities arrested three Los Angeles-area residents Wednesday for allegedly running a “pay-to-stay” visa scam that enabled foreign nationals to stay in the U.S. by using student visas without actually attending school. The scam netted as much as $6 million a year from tuition fees, reports the Associated Press. 

Hee Sun Shim, 51, of Beverly Hills; Hyung Chan Moon, 39; and Eun Young Choi, 35, were arrested on a 21-count indictment, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

The sham vocational schools apparently tapped into L.A. neighborhoods with a growing Asian immigration population, according to the L.A. Times. Shim operated three schools—Prodee University, Walter Jay M.D. Institute and the American College of Forensic Studies—in Koreatown, and one school, the Likie Fashion and Technology College, in Alhambra. Shim’s employees Moon and Choi allegedly assisted with the schools’ operation and management. 

Authorities said students from South Korea, China and other countries would pay up to $1,800 to enroll in one of the schools for six months in exchange for fraudulent papers, such as transcripts and attendance records, that would make the students eligible for an F-1 visa. If a student needed to stay “enrolled” for longer periods of time, Shim would then transfer the student to another school to avoid arousing suspicion. 

Federal authorities began their investigation in 2011 after inspectors made an unannounced visit to Prodee’s main campus in Wilshire Boulevard and found only three students in an English-language class, although records showed that the school had more than a thousand students enrolled. 

“We had students who were hundreds, thousands of miles away,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Los Angeles. “There was absolutely no education going on at the school.”

Authorities said they plan to withdraw each school’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program certification.

Shin, Moon and Choi face conspiracy and immigration fraud charges. Shim is also charged with two counts of money laundering and three counts of encouraging illegal residence, according to authorities. All three indicted operators are scheduled to appear in court later today.


Featured image by Emily Berl/Wall Street Journal

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 1.30.59 PM

Nan-hui Jo Convicted of Abducting Her 6-year-old Daughter

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Nan-hui Jo, a single mother who fled to South Korea with her American-born daughter in hopes of escaping physical and emotional abuse inflicted by her former partner and child’s father, Jesse Charlton, was found guilty of child abduction on Tuesday.

Judge David Rosenberg has delayed the sentencing until April 1 to review the decision, according to the Sacramento Bee. However, Jo’s conviction could result in her deportation and Charlton maintaining full custody of their daughter Vitz Da, also known as Hwi, who is now 6 years old.

Charlton, who served as a machine-gunner for two tours in Mosul, Iraq, has admitted that he suffers from traumatic brain injuries and severe PTSD and has been determined to be 70 percent disabled by the Veterans Affairs Department. While he has never been arrested for domestic violence, Charlton has testified in court that he once grabbed Jo by the throat and threw her against a wall.

After her student visa expired in 2009, Jo took her daughter from Sacramento to South Korea without notifying her partner. While Jo cared for Hwi in her home country, Charlton emailed her threats of hiring a bounty hunter and filed charges against her for child abduction. Thus, when Jo landed in Hawaii last July to look for schools for her daughter, she was immediately arrested and sent to Yolo County jail, where she remained incarcerated since December.

It is unclear when Jo will be reunited with her daughter again.

Over the past several months, Jo’s case has been closely followed by Asian American, domestic violence and immigration advocates, who have rallied support with the #StandWithNanHui social media campaign.

“We are very disappointed and saddened to hear that the jury decided to convict Nan-Hui Jo today,” Hyejin Shim of Korean American Coalition to End Domestic Abuse (KACEDA) told NBC News. “However, we know that when it comes to the criminal legal system, it is very common for survivors of domestic violence to be criminalized and blamed, not supported. What happened today is precisely why so many survivors fear our justice systems.”

Despite the guilty verdict, advocates will be organizing a rally on Thursday, March 5 at the San Francisco office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). A new petition is also currently being circulated on social media, urging people to call and demand ICE and CBP to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to drop Nan-Hui’s case.


Featured image by Dillon Sung via KACEDA

subscribe button