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Community News: Mid-City

KOREATOWN : Victim Program Assists Koreans

March 06, 1994|JAKE DOHERTY

A new unit of the Los Angeles city attorney's Victims Assistance Program will make it easier for Korean-speaking crime victims and witnesses to work with the criminal justice system and receive assistance.

The Special Emphasis Victim Assistance Program, established in December with a $60,000 federal grant, provides bilingual staff and volunteers to serve the Korean-speaking population.

Through the program, victims may file claims with the State Victims of Crime Compensation Fund for out-of-pocket medical and counseling expenses and lost wages resulting from injuries or trauma caused by a crime.

To file a claim, a victim or surviving family members must have filed a police report and must cooperate with police and prosecutors. Claims must be filed within a year of the crime. If the claim is approved, the fund provides up to $46,000 in reimbursements. The fund does not cover monetary losses or property damage.

"It's a great way to build a bridge between government and the community," said Tong Cho Kim, the Korean outreach program coordinator. "So many victims don't know that such a program exists. They are really surprised and pleased to learn about it."

Staff members also explain court procedures to victims and witnesses and offer referrals to other services, Cho said.

Since December, Cho has received about 400 inquiries and helped file 120 claims. About half of the cases involved robberies; others involved assaults, homicides and hit-and-run accidents.

The program, the only one in the state targeting Korean-speaking victims, has attracted attention outside the county. Cho has received calls from victims in San Diego and Northern California.

Cho splits his time between the program's main office, 808 N. Spring St., and the field office at the Koreatown police substation, 3330 W. 8th St., where he is available from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Staff members in the city's main office also offer assistance in English, Spanish and Chinese.

Korean information: (213) 485-9889; English, Spanish or Chinese information: (213) 485-6976.

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