In 1958, In-Ho Oh, a foreign student from South Korea, was beaten to death in West Philadelphia by a group of black youths. The brutal murder shocked people all over the nation who wrote hundreds of letters to the newspapers and the mayor about the incident. Some letter writers focused on the implications of the murder for Cold War diplomacy, while some believed there were moral lessons to be learned from the generous actions of Oh’s family. Yet other letter writers focused on race and juvenile delinquency and constructed an idealized “model” minority in the Korean student, contrasting him to the young suspects. The death of In-Ho Oh came to have different meanings to different groups and challenged America’s self-perception about racial equality and exceptionalism.

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