Korean church in Mountlake Terrace vandalized

  • Katherine Schiffner<br>For the Enterprise
  • Friday, February 22, 2008 11:30am

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — A Korean church was targeted by vandals who spray-painted buildings with ethnic slurs, smashed the windows of a church van and defaced a cross, police said Sept. 26.

Members of the Korean Presbyterian Church of Seattle, 23601 52nd Ave. W. in Mountlake Terrace, discovered the damage the morning of Sept. 26.

“We were very disturbed by what we found,” said Deacon Sam Chung. “I don’t know why anyone would do this.”

Police are calling it a hate crime.

“It just makes me angry,” Mountlake Terrace Assistant Police Chief Mike Mitchell said. “It’s so un-American, so un-Mountlake Terrace.”

Vandals used paint that was left outside the church, police said. Volunteers recently spent two months repainting the outside of church buildings.

Outside walls were splashed with pink paint, and crude messages were spay painted on windows and doors, including “Hail Satan.”

Someone even climbed on top of the building to throw paint on the church cross, Chung said.

No one got inside church buildings, he said. The church installed a security system last year after someone broke into the sanctuary and sprayed a fire extinguisher on the pews.

Sept. 26’s damage was at least the third time vandals have struck the church, Chung said.

The congregation of about 300 mostly first-generation Korean immigrants bought the former elementary school in 1986 and converted it to a church, Chung said.

A group of women who went there at 5 a.m. Sept. 26 to make kim chee, a Korean pickled cabbage, for a church bazaar were the first to discover the damage, Chung said.

After police checked the buildings for fingerprints and other evidence, the church’s assistant pastor, Myung Bae, used a power washer to get some of the paint off. Church members were trying to clean up before early morning services Saturday.

The congregation also was lining up rides for seniors who usually are picked up for services by the church’s van.

Chung said the church will consider adding more security.

“It’s a large compound and very difficult to protect,” he said. “We do want to be accessible to the outside.”

Although church members were alarmed by the vandalism, it won’t keep members away or detract from the spirit of the congregation, he said.

“The church is very resilient,” Chung said. “Most are first-generation immigrants and have lived through much more turbulent times. I’m sure we’ll be able to handle this.”

Katherine Schiffner is a reporter for the Herald in Everett.

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