Hak Tong Kim watched in disbelief Sunday as City Fashion, a clothing store he opened nine years ago Bronzeville, was looted and ransacked Sunday.
"I was so upset. I’m so sad," said Kim, who stood in the broken window of his store for hours, a wrench in hand, pleading with looters to leave it alone.
"I explain to them, 'please, don’t break the window. This is [a] small business. I’m the owner here," said Kim.
He was able to hold them off until 8 PM when the crowds outnumbered him. His family begged him to leave, so he finally did. He watched from the parking lot as dozens of people stormed through the broken glass, taking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise. They even made their way to the storage area of the basement, where they found and smashed a brand new, empty cash register.
"I lose around $350,000, said Kim. "I’m so unlucky. I don’t have insurance. I have only liability."
Kim is a first generation Korean-American. His family says he works seven days a week and has put his all into this business to support them. In a heartbreaking post on social media, his daughter writes, "My dad helplessly watched City Fashions being overrun and looted, and my uncle was assaulted by a huge crowd ransacking. Although they were able to arrive home safely, they are completely devastated. My first generation Korean parents worked blood, sweat and tears to establish a proud business of their own. They’ve never closed during the holidays and always believed that business would prosper, even through many trying times. My dad, who’s always been an optimist, told me today that he gives up. Seeing my parents defeated and in despair breaks my heart."
Kim has no plans to reopen, but his community is coming together to help. They're raising money online to offset the losses and coming together to clean up the big mess left behind.
"It is devastating to see this senseless thing happen to him," said Kim's pastor, Major Michael Cho. "I think it’s really important at this point that we help him so he can have hope back."
Major Cho and the Salvation Army are assessing the damage and working to find a solution to help local business owners who are suffering. Until then, cleanup continues.