Taco trucks and crooked Koreans

Meet Ok-Joo Ahn.  Doesn’t seem so different from a lot of immigrant entrepreneurs.  Mr. Ahn came to this country with apparently little more than the shirt off his back and started a chain of Korean-Mexican fusion cuisine food trucks called Calbi.  Just one problem.  Ahn didn’t come here with just “the shirt off his back.”  He came here with $1.3M USD stolen funds.  Money he was suppose to use to build a building in Seoul.


“…[Mr. Ahn got]… arrested by South Korean authorities on the charge of scam and criminal fraud right as he touched down in the Incheon International Airport on the 10th of September….

Apparently, Mr. Ahn fundamentally misunderstood a key provision in South Korean law:

“The Seoul Prosecution agency stated that Ahn most likely came back because he misunderstood one of the South Korean laws which state that a suspect’s crime (financial/economic ones) has an expiration date, usually 7 years. Should the criminal not get caught during the allotted 7 years, he/she, will be pardoned automatically.”

“…the law does not include criminals who run away to foreign lands. Thus, Ahn who commited a crime and escaped from South Korea was not subject to the law’s ticking timer.”

Maybe he was taking advantage of this?

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    The cited post sounds like it was written by a 12 year old. The correct term is “statute of limitations,” not an “expiration date” — crime is not a carton of milk. And “statute of limitations” is “tolled” as to a “fugitive.”

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936


    It was written by a layperson, not a legal clerk.

  • holterbarbour

    Even if it was written by a layperson– and I suppose most journalists are– it should at least appear that the writer knows what he/she is talking about. Granted, I’m not an expert on Korean law either, but I find it hard to believe that someone having committed a crime and skirted prosecution for the statutory period will be “pardoned automatically,” as the article states. If the SOL has run out, either the prosecutors won’t act or the defendant will raise that point in their defense. “Pardon” suggests conviction (and thus, a trial preceding the conviction) and then forgiveness of the offense. thekorean is right, it’s amateurish writing.

  • Arghaeri

    Yeah, but I’d like to see where it says “Statute of Limitations” in the Korean Code, could the terminology in The Korean Criminal Code use a term like expiry of powers to prosecute or similar. In which case the ‘translation’ may not be so bad as painted.

  • babotaengi

    Even the title reads like it was written by a fourth-grader. The police were “chasing” him? Chasing him where? Through a shopping mall? On a highway?

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    I’d like to see where it says “Statute of Limitations” in the Korean Code, could the terminology in The Korean Criminal Code use a term like expiry of powers to prosecute or similar.

    The term is 공소시효. It is a translation of a German term, strafverfolgungsverjährung. If one translated 공소시효 literally, it is “time period for indictment.”

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Okay, let me get you a Korean article then:


    Hummmm… this says 14 years…

  • Arghaeri

    Thanks TK, so referring to an expiration date isn’t so bad, the parson part is much worse, although I agree it wouldn’t have taken much research to make the piece better.

    I note slso that the link seems to be a citizens news blog so the writer may very well be 12 years old, in which if that is the case I would say well done.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Story continues to develop. From Koreatown’s Facebook page:

    “Solidifying Koreatown LA’s reputation as a haven for criminals running away from their pasts… news just broke that the founder of the Calbi BBQ food truck was arrested for having swindled more than a million dollars in South Korea 14 years ago before moving here.

    A warrant had been out for his arrest since 1998, yet no one in the Korean American community knew or cared to inform the general populace. In fact, he was repeatedly held up by the media as the paragon of a successful entrepreneur.

    Please note that CALBI just came out with the statement that their founder has not been involved with the company since 2010.

    Details are being slowly uncovered, but the gist is as follows:

    In 1998, Ok-Ju Ahn left South Korea the very day after he was entrusted with a million dollars by three investors… He went straight to Japan, then entered the United States, ostensibly to visit his son who was studying in the country… Mr. Ahn did not return to South Korea to construct whatever he was supposed to with all that money.

    After establishing himself stateside, he and his wife Insook built the Calbi Fusion Tacos and Burritos company… Many years passed… in fact, more than the seven years in the statue of limitations for such financial crimes in South Korea… except he wasn’t told that that waiver didn’t apply to those who abscond overseas.

    When he returned to his homeland via Incheon airport this year, the police arrested him.

    The currently 57-year-old Mr. Ahn reportedly contributed $500 to Councilman Herb Wesson’s campaign in 2007, as was standard practice among Korean business owners in Koreatown LA.

    Updates on and corrections to this breaking story will be posted here as soon as they become available. Pinkberry anyone?”

    Ah, Herb Wesson. LA’s 1st or 2nd most corrupt politician. All Korean businessmen in ktown must kowtow to him.

  • Arghaeri

    pardon part :-)

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936


    Munhwa is indeed using the term “공소시효.”

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    The term is 공소시효. It is a translation of a German term, strafverfolgungsverjährung.

    Well, you learn new things every day.

  • jk641

    That’s a mouthful. :)
    Is that the longest word in the German language?

  • iMe

    Calbi, Kogi, they all taste like shit to me. No idea why they’re successful, especially Kogi.

  • Arghaeri

    That’s a mouthful.
    Is that the longest word in the German language?

    Not even close, they like compounding their words.

    Eg Hoechsgeschwindigkeitsbegrenzung = maximum speed limit

  • Arghaeri

    You have no idea why “meat” is succesful, are you vegan?

  • SomeguyinKorea


    Not even. Apparently it’s:


    For me, it’s deciphering the compound words, many of them seemingly completely illogical, that made learning German difficult. For example, at first tageslichtprojektor made absolutely no sense to me since I thought it meant ‘daylightprojector’ (but one uses artificial light?) when I should have understood it as ‘uplightprojector’ (tag is day, but tages is up). Still strange, but not any worse than it’s English counterpart. But, you get the picture.

    Same story with Korean, actually. The compound words, especially the ones made of contractions of other compound words (like 졔습 on my A/C), are quite confusing to me.

  • SomeguyinKorea


    Whoops, made a mistake with that noun in German…should have started with an upper-case letter.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Well, really, two nouns…Anyway.

  • jk641

    I like this word:
    Rinderkennzeichnungs- und Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz

    (Cattle marking and beef labeling supervision duties delegation law)