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Category: Kim Jong Il

Bell corruption trial: Illness forces jurors to be sent home

Bell corruption case
In the latest setback in the Bell corruption case, the judge sent jurors home Tuesday after a panel member became ill.

Jurors have now deliberated for 12 days, but a verdict has proved elusive.

The jury was forced to restart its effort five days into deliberations after the judge removed a juror for misconduct because she had done research on the Internet in violation of court orders.

CRISIS IN BELL: High salaries stir outrage

When jurors reported to court Tuesday morning, they sent a note to Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy telling her that juror No. 7 was sick. Court officials said they did not know how long the juror would be out or when deliberations will resume.

Former Bell City Council members Luis Artiga, Victor Bello, George Cole, Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal are on trial for misappropriation of public funds.

The former city leaders are charged with boosting their salaries to as much as $100,000 a year by sitting on city boards that did little work, if any.

The council members have argued that the huge salaries were the work of former City Manager Robert Rizzo and that former City Atty. Edward Lee never told them anything was wrong with their elevated paychecks.

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Bell corruption trial: Jurors may be struggling

Former Bell City Council members in court last month. Jurors have again asked to have some testimony read back to them..
Before adjourning Monday, jurors in the corruption case of six former Bell City Council members again asked to have testimony read back to them, an indication that they are still trying to decide if the high salaries the elected officials were pulling in were legal.

If jurors find the salaries were legal, they can vote to acquit.

If jurors find the salaries were illegal, they must decide whether council members knew that what they were doing was wrong or that a reasonable person in their position should have known.

CRISIS IN BELL: High salaries stir outrage

Jurors on Monday asked to hear testimony from Feb. 11 when former councilman George Mirabal was questioned by his attorney, Alex Kessel, about a section of the City Charter having to do with council pay and a section of the state Constitution.

Mirabal testified that reading those documents led him to believe his salary was legal, said Stanley L. Friedman, the attorney for defendant Oscar Hernandez.

“It looks very favorable for Mr. Hernandez and it looks favorable across the board for all defendants because the jury is giving serious consideration to defense arguments that the salaries were legal,” Friedman said Monday.

Jurors have now deliberated for 12 days, although they were interrupted five days into the process when Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy dismissed one panel member for misconduct after the woman admitted she had consulted the Internet for help.

Kennedy replaced her with an alternate and told jurors to start deliberations anew.

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In Koreatown, observers wonder who will succeed Kim Jong Il

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All around Koreatown on Monday, the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il was Topic A. And the big question is who will succeed him.

John Kim, 75, a retired construction material salesman from South Korea, was sitting on a bench inside Koreatown Plaza. He was reading a Korean-language newspaper with a large photo of Kim Jong Il on its front.

"The problem is who is going to be the leader," he said. "His son is too young. A man can't control the country that young. It's impossible."

PHOTOS: World reacts to death of Kim Jong Il

He thinks there might be tensions between North Korea's military and government leaders over who will control the country.

"South and North Korea must be unified peacefully," he said. He hopes that the countries' unification will be possible with Kim dead, but he doesn't know what will happen.

He learned of the leader's death while watching television Sunday night.

"It's big news," he said. "Big, big news."

U.S. officials were closely monitoring North Korea for signs of instability or unusual military moves Monday after the death of longtime leader Kim Jong Il, concerned that his passing may set off a succession struggle and set back efforts to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Sun Woo An, 41 is part owner of his family's bookstore, Korean Book Center, in Koreatown Plaza. His family has run the bookstore, first opened in Seoul, since the 1920s. It opened in the United States in the 1970s.

Sun Woo was putting out a few Korean-language newspapers with Kim Jong Il's face on them.

"In North Korea, he is the owner, not the president," he said of Kim. "He is the king, the god of North Korea."

"He is not dead. People say he is not dead. Death is when the body is gone, but his spirit is in North Korea."

FULL COVERAGE: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

People are nervous, Sun Woo said. They are afraid of someone worse than Kim, but they hope for something better.

Sun Woo does wedding photography and was downtown Sunday night taking photos when he heard the news about Kim Jong Il. As he was taking photos, one of the wedding guests came to him and whispered in his ear that Kim was dead. He kept taking photos, but after he got home around midnight, he checked the news because he couldn't believe it.

"It's very shocking."

Sun Woo has been in the United States for seven years. His mother and sister sponsored him. The news, he says, is huge for South Korea as well as North Korea because there is so much tension between the countries. He hopes the dictator's death will help improve the countries' relationship.

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Los Angeles Times obituary of Kim Jong Il

Kim Jong Il's death: Defectors speak out

World leaders react to death of Kim Jong Il

-- Hailey Branson-Potts in Koreatown

Photo: Sun Woo An, manager of Korean Book Center in Los Angeles, looks at a South Korean newspaper leading with the news about Kim Jong Il's death. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Kim Jong Il death: Koreatown reacts with joy and worry

 

Los Angeles' Koreatown reacted with both glee and anxiety on hearing about the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

"I saw it as someone who should have passed long ago finally having passed," said a North Korean defector now living in L.A., who asked not to be named because of the nature of his escape from North Korea. "It was something that should have happened long ago."

Kim's death was announced Monday by a weeping anchorwoman on North Korean state television. The mercurial strongman, who styled himself as "Dear Leader" while ruling over an impoverished police state, was reported to have died from a heart attack Saturday while traveling by train. He also had chronic illnesses.

PHOTOS: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

In grocery stores, shopping plazas and all-night diners in L.A.'s Koreatown, the news of Kim's death was greeted with both unrestrained joy and a deep sense of concern.

Yoon-hui Kim, a defector who fled North Korea about 10 years ago by crossing the border into China, said refugees were all on edge waiting to see what would happen next.

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Kim Jong Il: Leader's death may be a turning point

Click for more photos

Badral Ulziitogtokh, a 23-year-old originally from Mongolia, said the Long Beach church he attends has been praying for the death of the North Korean leader.

“I feel like God is starting to finally change the world for the better,” he said. “But I worry about what will happen in the immediate future.”

Ulziitogtokh said that North and South Korea have been divided for long and with a distrust that runs so deeply that few people remember anything different.

PHOTOS: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

“I don’t know if this will be a turning point,” he said. “But I hope so.”

Seung Hyun Lee, 19, was cleaning up for the night at Hollys Coffee in Koreatown when she heard that Kim has died.

FULL COVERAGE: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

The waitress said she was unconvinced the news was accurate and that said she’d heard reports that the dictator had faked his own death before. "I don't even know if he really died," Lee said.

She added: “It will take his dead corpse."

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-- Matt Stevens and Garrett Therolf, in Koreatown

Photo: Kim Jong Il and son Kim Jong Un, right, in 2010. Credit: Associated Press

Kim Jong Il death: Defector recalls escaping North Korea

One North Korean defector now living in Los Angeles said the death of Kim Jong Il reminded him of the North Korea region's treachery.

“I saw it as someone who should have passed long ago finally having passed,” said the defector, who asked not to be named because of the nature of his escape from North Korea. “It was something that should have happened long ago.”

The 42-year-old man, who fled by boat with his wife and two children five years ago, said he learned of the leader’s death through the news on Korean-language television at his home.

PHOTOS: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

He said it reminded him of his treacherous journey fleeing from the nation, when he met a typhoon on his boat ride and eventually made his way to the U.S.

Kim’s death was announced by state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. No cause of death was reported, but Kim was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.

FULL COVERAGE: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

The  leader was believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 but nonetheless appeared in numerous photos released by state media as he toured state facilities and in recent months embarked on rare trips outside North Korea -- to China and Russia.

Kim, who came to power in 1994 upon the death of his father, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, led one of the world’s most enduring dictatorships, a repressive regime that has long defied predictions of its demise.

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FULL COVERAGE: The death of Kim Jong Il

Overnight closures for 60, 5 and 405 freeways

Airline passenger arrested after loaded gun found in carry-on luggage

-- Victoria Kim

Kim Jong Il death: Happiness and caution in Koreatown

Richard Chong’s first reaction was skepticism.

“Why are they releasing this information so easily” wondered the Koreatown resident after hearing reports that North Korean strongman Kim Jung II had died.

“Hopefully this is true, but in a country like this, you never know."

FULL COVERAGE: The death of Kim Jong Il

In grocery stores, shopping plazas and all-night diners in LA’s Koreatown, the news of Jong’s death was greeted with both unrestrained happiness and a deep sense of caution.

Residents and customers here, many of them of Korean descent, said they have come to see the North Korean dictator as a shadowy figure, capable of using body doubles and fake news reports to throw off the rest of the watching world.

Chong, a 27-year-old graduate student who was born in California but worked in South Korea, said he’s been fixated on following news out of Korea for years and has come to expect the unexpected out of North Korea.

“There is so much ridiculous news coming out of North Korea,” Chong said. “It’s just one thing after another."

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-- Garrett Therolf

Kim Jong Il death: Koreans in U.S. fear for relatives in North Korea

Kim Jong Il. Click for more photos.

Yoon-hui Kim, a defector who fled North Korea about 10 years ago by crossing the border into China, said refugees in the Los Angeles area were all on edge waiting to see what would happen next in their homeland after the death of "supreme leader" Kim Jong Il.

Many still have family back in North Korea and are deeply concerned about what fate their relatives may face in the immediate future, she said. 

PHOTOS: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

“It was no surprise, since we all knew he was ill,” said Kim, who is in her late 30s, but was careful with personal details about herself. “The most worrying is what will happen to the North Korean people.”

Kim said she felt the situation was particularly volatile and unpredictable because neither South Korea nor China would be in a position to influence the country.

FULL COVERAGE: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

"All we can do is wait and see," she said.

Kim’s death was announced by state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. No cause of death was reported, but Kim was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.

The leader was believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 but nonetheless appeared in numerous photos released by media as he toured state facilities and in recent months embarked on rare trips outside North Korea -– to China and Russia.

ALSO:

Overnight closures for 60, 5 and 405 freeways

L.A. County law enforcement agencies launch DUI holiday crackdown

Airline passenger arrested after loaded gun found in carry-on luggage

--Victoria Kim

Photo credit: Associated Press

Kim Jong Il death: Hard times ahead for North Korea, L.A. pastor says

Jung Im Moon, a pastor who heads Arise Mission Church, a small congregation of about 20 North Korean refugees in Los Angeles, welcomed the news of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's passing but said she knew hard times were immediately ahead for the people of North Korea.

“It was great news, it was so shocking,” said Moon, who has been working with the refugees for about eight years. “Personally, I think it was just a matter of time.”

PHOTOS: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

She said she was reluctant to broach any political topic with her congregants because it was sensitive and painful for most. Many of them are nostalgic for the homeland they left behind and are hesitant to criticize the regime because of the repression they experienced as youngsters, Moon said.

Kim’s death was announced by state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. No cause of death was reported, but Kim was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.

FULL COVERAGE: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

The  leader was believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 but nonetheless appeared in numerous photos released by state media as he toured state facilities and in recent months embarked on rare trips outside North Korea -– to China and Russia.

ALSO:

FULL COVERAGE: The death of Kim Jong Il

Overnight closures for 60, 5 and 405 freeways

Airline passenger arrested after loaded gun found in carry-on luggage

--Victoria Kim

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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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