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Fatal stabbing sheds light on underground nightlife issues

Yeon-Tae Kang Hill

Yeon-Tae Kang Hill

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Dongsoo Park

DULUTH -- The fatal stabbing of a 32-year-old Duluth man last week has shed light on underground nightlife activity that's taken root near one of Gwinnett's commercial epicenters, officials said Wednesday.

Investigators probing the Dec. 8 slaying of Kwang Ko have been made privy to Duluth businesses that act as after-hours oases when clubs empty near the Pleasant Hill Road corridor, a stronghold of the Korean business community.

Duluth police Capt. Mark Hunter said the department has been aware of the issue for the past few years, but Ko's slaying showed open-til-dawn activity is proliferating enough that a crackdown could be in order. Police believe Ko was accosted about 6:40 a.m. by a group of revelers and stumbled to a nearby Aldi, where a bank patron spotted him bleeding and called 911.

"There are consequences to that type of (late-night) activity," Hunter said. "I think the morning of Dec. 8 is demonstrative to those type of consequences, in their worst case."

Hunter announced at a Wednesday press conference that police are searching for two more murder suspects.

On Tuesday, Duluth police arrested Seung Won Lee, 24, and Dong Ho Shin, 30, both of Duluth. Police said their friends Dongsoo Park, 25, and Yeon-Tae Kang Hill, 20, whose addresses are unknown, remain at large. All four face charges of felony murder and aggravated assault.

The motive in Ko's death boils down to simple "disrespect" between the two groups of friends with no known gang affiliations. Ko was with a friend who was also beaten but managed to drive away. Both are significantly older than the four men suspected of accosting them, Hunter said.

Hunter said Ko died of a number of slashing and puncture stab wounds and showed signs of bruising. No weapon has been recovered.

Exactly where the scuffle occurred is under investigation, but Hunter said all six men were in a restaurant called Korean Folk shortly beforehand. A restaurant under that name could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Hunter said the business has less than a dozen tables and is reportedly frequented well after other clubs in the area close. The married owners of the restaurant were initially cooperative but have since been reluctant to give follow-up interviews, Hunter said.

"We are in contact with their attorney," he said.

Duluth city ordinances require that businesses with liquor licenses abide by 1:30 a.m. last calls on weekdays. All patrons and employees are required to vacate the premises an hour later. Last call on Saturday and Sunday mornings is 2:55 a.m.

In the wake of Ko's death, Hunter said he anticipates stricter enforcement.

"We've tried to address these issues as they've become apparent," he said. "In large part, the activity is not mainstream, not supported by the community at large, but it does happen."

Both Shin and Lee are scheduled to appear in court Dec. 28 for a probable cause hearing.

Investigators believe the victim may have worked in the area as a waiter or bartender. They're seeking public assistance in learning more about him, which they feel will aid the investigation. Ko had severed ties with his family about a year ago, police said.

Hunter credits information provided by the Korean community with eventually pointing them to all four suspects.

Comments

Kat 2 years, 11 months ago

There are other areas covered by Duluth PD that could use attention too. In the strip mall at Howell Ferry and PIB a massage parlor, across Howell Ferry in the shopping center behind BOA another massage parlor and a third one in the Kroger shopping center at PIB and Pleasant Hill Rd. These all operate until the late hours of the evening. Now they may be operating legit businesses, but seeing these businesses is changing the feel and possibly the safety of the area. I avoid the Gwinnett Place Mall area because it will never be what it was 20+ years ago.

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Linda 2 years, 11 months ago

Gwinnett has been changing demographics and it's not for the better. Not safe anywhere is Gwinnett.

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dan 2 years, 11 months ago

Let me guess...White people are the only people that do not commit crimes. If everyone in Gwinnett was white there would never be another murder. Why don't you just move to Forsyth county if you don't like living in a diverse community?

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schung1002 2 years, 11 months ago

Linda, what an ignorant comment! What is the highest level of education that you received (highschool)? If this is the first homicide for Duluth this year, then Duluth probably has one of the lowest homicide rates in the country. I hear about homicides throughout Georgia on a daily basis, and some of them are sickening crimes, such as the one recently committed by Ryan Brunn, where he sexually assaulted, beat, and stabbed to death a 7 year old girl. So, to imply that Gwinnett county because of its diverse ethnicity is an unsafe place to live, is such an absurd and ignorant comment, when so many gruesome crimes are committed by other races, such as caucausians. I am extremely offended by your comment, being that the vast majority of my race consist of some of the most educated and successful entrepreneurs. I believe diversity is what makes this world a better place! What makes you think your race is better than any other race???

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