URBANA - U of I students say their week of celebration has been covered over by hate. The Korean Student Association on campus is celebrating "Korean Week" for the first time. But a thief has been stealing their excitement.
The KSA designed a banner for the week that was about 5x7 feet, and costs almost $300. They hung it on the Alma Mater Friday. But Saturday morning it was gone. And their troubles didn't stop there.
It was supposed to be a big week for Yunji Kim and her friends in KSA, the first time the U of I ever hosted a week celebrating their Korean culture.
"There's like 13-14 events and we have all the posters set up," Kim said.
Except for one, an almost $300 banner was stolen right out of the Alma Maters hands.
"It took almost one hour just to attach it," she said. Discouraged but not down, they again decorated the statue with a Korean and Illini flag. The next day they were gone.
"I was really planning on a lot of things for decorations, not only the banner, but other things as well, but after it got stolen I was really disappointed," Kim added.
It didn't stop there. Just a few feet away, vandals wrote hate speech on chalk messages promoting their celebration.
"We have Pakistan Day, India Day, we celebrate all that over here too," said U of I student Shahvar Hussain. "And I would really hate it if someone disrespected my culture like that."
"I don't want to be just saying 'you're racist', I don't want to be like that," said Kim. "But I'm going to have to assume like that."
Kim called police about the stolen banner. But she and several others are afraid it's gone for good.
"I just think it's ignorant college kids just being up to mischief," said Hussain.
Kim says police checked nearby surveillance cameras, but they told her they couldn't see anyone in the act of stealing the banner. All she asks is someone call police if they saw what happened.