Kea So Joo,
In May of 1994, Kim Yung Soo (a.k.a. Joey Skaggs), President of Kea So Joo, Inc. sent 1,500 letters to dog shelters around America soliciting all their unwanted dogs for $.10 a pound. The letter said in part, "Dog shelter kill million of dog, cost money...Dog shelter need money to operate. Where it get money? Hard to get money. Many people like to eat dog...Where do they get dog?...We buy all dog, regardless of size or color. We prefer big, young strong dog, but we take all dog from your dog shelter.
"Lot people eat dog...Dog is healthy for you...You make more money, more people happy. You get cleaner air. No burn up dog. No waste dog. People pet no disappear. Everybody happy...Dog no suffer. We have quick death for dog."
And so on, and so forth.
The outrage was palpable. Kea So Joo's telephone rang off the hook. The outgoing message, in both Korean and English, was punctuated by yapping dogs in the background. But it couldn't keep up with the incoming calls and faxes.
"I have informed animal activist organizations across the nation in regard to your repulsive letter of request. I'm hoping that some action can be taken against you and your countrymen for eating animals that are very beloved to Americans."
"I may be able to excuse your bad English, but I cannot excuse your cruel business. People like you need to go back to your country and stay there."
"I'd like to see immigration laws tightened so that people like you could not enter our country."
"There are alot of problems in this country (U.S.A.) and people like you are the reason for most of them. You come over here and take advantage of all our benefits and then you try to shove your customs down our throats...You must have maggots running through your blood. Maggots eat the feces of all living creatures, you must have had a diet of this all your life to have turned out to be the most rotten of your kind...Because of you and your letter, I have made a commitment never to purchase or patronize anything from Korea, China, Philippines, Japan, Thailand, or Cambodia."
"If you want Americans to try a different kind of meat, why don't you go back to your home country and make a business out of selling your little dirty Asian babies to Americans as ground meat."
"I hope everyone that agrees with your ideas are punished in a cruel and harmful way."
"In America we have a serious need for human body parts. If you are disease-free, why don't you kill yourself (commit suicide) and send your organs to the various charities in order that worthy humans may continue life on this planet."
Many of the calls and letters contained offers to sell dogs to Kea So Joo. Others threatened heinous crimes against the proprietor. None of the calls, faxes or letters were ever answered. None-the-less, several television and news reports stated that they had spoken with representatives of the company. Others reported that large dogs were missing off the streets. The news coverage was as biased as the response from the humanitarians running the animal shelters. They expressed horror and outrage that Asians were cooking and canning dogs for human consumption. They made all sorts of editorial allegations about the immorality of selling and buying dogs for food. And several stated that legal charges were being brought against the company. One reporter in Atlanta warned viewers not to send money to the organization. Another reporter stopped an Asian restaurateur on the street in a city other than New York, showed him the letter, and with an accusatory tone asked him if he had ever seen the letter before. During this news report, the man's name and the name of his restaurant were displayed as a chest caption.
In fact, there was no Kea So Joo (which means Dog Meat Soup with Alcohol in Korean) at all. Nor were any laws broken. The hoax was orchestrated by Joey Skaggs with help from several Korean friends. His point was to illustrate the hypocrisy, intolerance, and prejudice harbored by so-called animal rights humanitarians, as well as gullible and racist media, towards other cultures.
Kea So Joo's address was a copy shop and mail box rental company on MacDougal Street. Although no letters were sent to the media, the animal shelter recipients did all the work for Skaggs. In righteous fashion, they turned the letter over to the media which acted as a law enforcement arm. The media took the bait. The storefront was besieged by health inspectors, police, private investigators, and media representatives. Skaggs' friends Abe and Rahul who run the store were in on the hoax. And they had some very interesting and frightening experiences deflecting the onslaught.
When police investigators finally connected Joey Skaggs' name to Kea So Joo, they believed he was a broker for the Koreans. So they climbed up on the roof of his apartment building on Waverly Place to see if they could spot dogs in pens in the back yard.
Journalist John Tierney covered this piece from beginning to end. His article appeared in The New York Times Magazine on Sunday, July 17, 1994.