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Family, Friends of UN Gunman Express Surprise - 2002-10-05

The man who fired several shots outside the United Nations headquarters in New York Thursday is a postal worker who lives near Chicago. Family, friends and co-workers of Steven Kim all say they are surprised at his involvement.

Steven Kim's family was probably most surprised to see him on television Thursday, tossing leaflets outside the U.N. headquarters and being arrested for firing several shots into the air. Mr. Kim had told them he was taking a short vacation to Seattle.

Mr. Kim lives with his wife in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines, where he works for the United States Postal Service. His two sons live nearby. Neighbor Ron Moore said he knows Mr. Kim as a quiet, polite man. "He sort of kept to himself because he had a little bit of a language barrier with English," he said.

Neighbor Newton Long also said Mr. Kim does not seem like someone who would fire a gun in public. "I was just very surprised that someone who lives so close to us has done something like that," he said. "You never know who you walk past in the street."

Mr. Kim's son Michael visited New York City with his father a couple of weeks ago. He says his father did not say or do anything unusual as they passed the U.N. headquarters building.

Mr. Kim's shots hit several offices in the U.N. headquarters, but no one was hurt. The leaflets he threw after firing his gun were addressed to "all people who love freedom and justice." They appeared to be a criticism of human rights conditions in North Korea. Michael Kim says his father had never before expressed any strong feelings about North Korea.

Steven Kim is 57 years old, and immigrated to the United States from South Korea 20 years ago and has since become a U.S. citizen. He has worked for the Postal Service near Chicago since 1988. Supervisors there say he was a quiet person who came to work every day and did his job.