The Korean Merchants Club of Merrick Boulevard keeps a relatively low profile in predominantly black Laurelton and that is just the way founder Mark Rhe likes it.
Rhe founded the club in 1991 to combat the racial tension that was developing between Korean store owners, who were relative newcomers to the neighborhood, and their mostly black, middle-class customers.
Rhe, a Bayside resident, bought his dry cleaning shop on Merrick Boulevard from a black owner in 1989. That was one year before blacks in Brooklyn organized a protest which nearly drove a Korean grocer out a business following a physical confrontation between the store owner and a Haitian shopper.
©2000 Community News Group
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