Myung Jae Kim Guilty of Taking Saehan Bank Worker Hostage over Beef with Hanmi Bank

Myung Jae Kim, armed with a knife, sawed-off shotgun and pipe bombs, walked into Saehan Bank in Buena Park on March 1, 2012, because the water purification company owner was pissed over the loss of about $235,000 in cash that he had put in a safety deposit box.

The thing is, the money was lost about five years earlier, at Hanmi Bank of Garden Grove.

Last week, the Irvine 56-year-old was convicted of felonies that can send him to state prison until he is 80. How's that for a major loss?


Myung Jae Kim Faces 5 Life Terms for Hostage Standoff over Beef with Bank Manager

The common link between the two banks was Michelle Kwon, who had worked previously at Hanmi Bank and was employed by Saehan Bank that fateful day Kim took her hostage, despite her having been cleared of having anything to do with the missing loot. Hanmi Bank cleared its employees of wrongdoing, and suggested Kim's wife might have had something to so with the loss.

Kim had kept in touch with Kwon over the years to ask about his disappeared money, even after she transferred to the new bank. And Kwon was a customer of Kim's business. A security guard thought nothing of it when Kim entered the Saehan Bank at 4542 Beach Blvd. carrying a white box, even holding the door open for the customer.

Kwon would go on to be held hostage for nearly four hours after Kim whipped his arsenal out of the box, and though he never threatened to kill her, he did threaten to shoot her legs off. Meanwhile, SWAT sharpshooters across the street from the bank drew a bead on Kim, but the bullets clanked off a metal railing. The SWAT team later stormed the bank and shot Kim in the stomach. He fired a round at Kwon but missed.

Kim was found guilty of assault with a firearm, false imprisonment, three counts of assault on a peace officer, possession of a destructive device in a public place, possession of a destructive device for intimidation or injury and making criminal threats. Sentence-enhancing allegations of use of a deadly weapon and the personal use of a firearm were found true.

Jurors rejected another sentence-enhancement allegation that he intentionally fired a weapon and acquitted Kim of attempted murder, which spared him the possibility of getting 50 years to life in state prison.

His sentencing where he can get half that many years is scheduled for June 13 in Santa Ana.

Email: mc****@oc******.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *