Senior who police say threatened to light himself on fire attended Assembly candidate’s event

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The Bayside man who threatened to set himself on fire in a Flushing garden last week is the latest associate of a Flushing state Assembly candidate to have a run-in with authorities, according to the NYPD.

San Ok Kim is part of the Korean-American Senior Citizens Society of Greater New York, which has long overseen operations at the public garden in Kissena Corridor Park.

But when the city decided to hand over control to a commission of community leaders in the area, Kim went on a hunger strike to protest.

That strike culminated Sept. 25, when Kim stood in a garden shed beside two containers of gasoline with a lighter in his hand and threatened self-immolation, according to police.

As TimesLedger Newspapers was going to press, the NYPD’s Hostage Negotiation Team was called in and the East West School of International Studies and IS 237, both at 46-21 Colden St., were placed on lockdown until Kim was subdued and taken for a psychiatric evaluation, police said.

Not only was Kim part of the senior center, he was also a supporter of Flushing Assembly candidate Myungsuk Lee and spoke at one of his news conferences.

On Aug. 15, at a campaign event, Kim and Lee accused city Comptroller John Liu of undermining the election by trying to split the Korean vote.

“John Liu needs support from the Korean community when he runs next year,” Kim said at the conference, speaking through a translator. “He shouldn’t expect it.”

Lee said Kim was not part of his campaign in any way, but was invited to the press conference as a community leader.

On Sept. 22, a group including volunteers for Lee’s campaign were arrested and charged with assault and false imprisonment after a scuffle in an office Lee rented for his campaign, according to police.

— Joe Anuta

Updated 11:32 pm, October 3, 2012
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