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Seeking to get back her lost $2,000 payment, a College Point mother has filed suit against the owner of a neighborhood Taekwondo business that suddenly closed down.
July Parodi, who recently moved to College Point from the Bronx, earlier this month submitted a notice of claim in Small Claims Court in Jamaica against Moon Sun Hwang, the owner of the now defunct Sun & Moon's Taekwondo.
Parodi is suing for $2,000, the amount she said she gave to the Taekwondo school for classes for her two sons, Mauricio, 13, and Jason, 6. Her children had only taken a month of classes, but were supposed to attend for more than three years, she said.
"I wanted to keep my kids playing sports all the time," Parodi said. "This guy ruined my plans."
Parodi said she was contacted by a representative of the television show "Judge Judy," which features small claims cases. But she said she would not appear on the show because she is camera-shy.
Parodi is one of many customers who are upset about the recent closing of Sun & Moon's.
The school at 15-04 College Point Blvd. that shut down in April had been open since at least the mid-'90s, customers said.
The school's master, Hye Ok Jung, told her students she needed surgery for her leg, and the school would reopen in June, customers said.
But Hwang, the owner, had already left for Korea to mourn the death of a relative, customers said. The school never reopened, and Joe's Used & New Household Goods, a discount store, has replaced it.
Many of the school's customers said they never got their money back.
Louise Feldman said she paid $550 for six months of classes for her 4-year-old son, who only attended for a month and a half.
When Feldman learned of the master's injury, an employee of the school told her there was no problem, she said.
"She was like, 'No, ma'am, don't worry, everything is OK,'" Feldman said. "Thinking back, I was so stupid."
When they learned of the problem with Sun & Moon's, other Taekwondo schools in northeast Queens made an offer to help.
Champion's Taekwondo in Bayside is willing to honor the contracts of the customers who lost their money at Sun & Moon's, said Sang K. Oh, the master of Champion's.
"We feel very bad because the instructor just left like that without mentioning it," Oh said.
Oh said he met Hwang once, calling him "a well-educated master."
Oh said he had heard that Hwang was having visa problems and struggled to return to the United States. He speculated that Hwang had not intended to leave his customers shortchanged, saying he could not imagine a master ever doing so.
"As far as I know, there is no such master (who would do that)," he said. "If there is such a master, they could be punished in Korea, too."
Modern Samurai in Fresh Meadows and Young's Martial Arts School in Flushing made similar offers.
Lou Dagostino, master of Modern Samurai, said his business would honor the short-term contracts.
"From time to time, these things happen. And it gives martial arts a bad name," he said. "We are trying to restore some faith."
Parodi called the proposals "very nice." But she said she could not find her contract, and only had a $1,000 check she made out to Sun & Moon's, having paid the rest in cash.
Parodi said she brought her children to Sun & Moon's because it was close to her house and wondered if she would be able to travel to the other neighborhoods on a regular basis.
She said she hoped to meet Hwang face to face in court.
"I want to confront him," she said. "I want to ask him why he did this to all the kids because it's not fair."
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 141.
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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