A Manufactured Crisis


The ways that their insecurities have manifested in the past few months have been shocking:

  • Board President DJ Yoon and Board member Inbo Sim manufactured a false and nonexistent budget crisis to justify laying off nearly half the staff;
  • DJ and Board members retaliated against 11 current and former staff members who had asked for DJ’s resignation through a workplace complaint letter;
  • Board members engaged in union-busting tactics when staff unionized;
  • Board members enabled then-Program Manager Young Ran Kim (a long-time friend of DJ and Inbo since the 1990s) to publicly spread false information about Jonathan Paik demanding his resignation; and
  • After Jonathan’s resignation, the Board installed Young Ran Kim as de facto Executive Director of KRC.

The series of events that played out are disturbing and go against every value that we thought KRC stood for. DJ Yoon, Inbo Sim, Angela Oh, and Young Ran Kim must be held accountable for the harm and irreparable damage they have caused to KRC and KRC staff.

I. KRC Board President DJ Yoon and Board Member Inbo Sim Sensationalized a Nonexistent Budget Crisis to Lay Off 50 Percent of KRC Staff

After a 10-month sabbatical, DJ Yoon returned to KRC as Board President in July 2019 and immediately went to KRC’s accounting books. Beginning in August 2019, DJ Yoon and Board member Inbo Sim–both of who are financially illiterate–sensationalized a nonexistent budget crisis to justify laying off 50 percent of KRC’s nearly 30-person staff. Creating a scapegoat for this financial “crisis,” they placed the blame on KRC’s Executive Team comprised of Executive Director Jonathan Paik, Legal Director Jenny Seon, and Director of Digital Yongho Kim.

The Board demanded that the Executive Team come up with layoff plans letting go of half of KRC staff. DJ repeatedly texted the Executive Team demanding that the layoff plan go into effect immediately. However, the Executive Team disagreed with the Board on the state of KRC’s financial health, and refused to implement the layoff plan without proof of an actual crisis. At the same time that DJ demanded layoffs, he secretly promised select staff that they would get raises and a budget for a new program pending Board approval, which was all but certain.

Troubled by the Board’s lack of transparency, on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, a majority of staff, calling themselves the “Concerned Staff,” demanded that the Board hire an independent finance expert to determine whether KRC was in a financial “crisis.” Only after staff pressure did the Board finally hire two independent financial consultants agreed upon by both the Board and staff, to assess KRC’s financial health.

At an all staff and Board meeting on September 10, DJ put on a show, appealing to the older Korean staff, including Young Ran Kim, by saying how sorry he was on behalf of the Executive Team for the financial crisis, and that the Executive Team had made unforgivable mistakes. Seeing this, an older monolingual Korean staff scolded and shamed the Executive Team and demanded that Jonathan, Jenny, and Yongho apologize for creating this financial mess. The Executive Team made multiple apologies for this financial crisis, which still only existed according to DJ and Inbo’s unreliable accounting.

Over the weeks, almost every time that DJ and Inbo brought up KRC’s financial health via email, the size of the deficit would change from –$500,000 to –$1 million to –$280,000. They stoked fear among staff claiming that KRC was “bleeding,” that KRC would go bankrupt, and that KRC would not exist at the end of 2019.

At one budget meeting, Angela Oh yelled at and criticized several young staff for using their rightful vacation days to attend the wedding of a former KRC staff, instead of fundraising to fix the budget crisis weeks before the annual gala. These staff have all fundraised for KRC and developed work plans taking into account their vacation days and fundraising goals. Angela Oh and Inbo Sim shamed the Executive Team for “failing to arrange staff’s vacation time” as another strike against them. In contrast, Angela Oh herself and other Board members never showed their own fundraising efforts and had claimed to lack the networks to fundraise—their primary job as Board members—demonstrating an inability to fulfill their fiduciary duty.

On Tuesday, October 29, 2019, the two independent financial consultants presented their findings at an all staff and Board meeting. One consultant, a nonprofit accounting expert,  assessed KRC’s revenue projections, and the other consultant reported on KRC’s accounting issues. Each consultant independently confirmed that there is no budget crisis that would result in KRC shutting down; and that KRC would likely end the year in a surplus or without a major deficit. One report found that the Executive Team had made great strides to raise money for KRC and that Jonathan Paik acted in good faith to correct KRC’s past accounting mistakes, which Inbo Sim, Angela Oh, and DJ Yoon had used to accuse Jonathan of insubordination.

Additionally, the report made the following findings:

  • The Board has failed to uphold their fiduciary duty to KRC, has exhibited gross incompetence, lacks members with any accounting or financial knowledge, and has been packed with personal acquaintances of founding (or founding-adjacent) KRC members (i.e. DJ Yoon).
  • The Board is in violation of the Nonprofit Integrity Act for lacking an Audit Committee, and the Board-hired CPA is also the auditor of KRC, a clear conflict of interest.
  • DJ Yoon’s suspicious finance practices would be grounds for investigation. For example, in the summer of 2019, upon his return from sabbatical, DJ pressured KRC’s then-Finance Manager to give him access to the accounting books despite the CPA’s strong recommendation that DJ not be allowed access in keeping with basic accounting principles. Still, DJ forced his way in to obtain improper access to KRC’s accounting books.
  • Current Board members were found to have been “cosigning organizational mortgages” and “receiving commissions on KRC’s purchase of real estate and subsequently receiving a tax credit by making an in-kind donation of their services.”

When this independent consultant presented his findings at the October 29 meeting, Young Ran Kim attempted to cut his presentation short to stop him from presenting the damning results of his investigation. DJ (via conference call) and Inbo, both financially illiterate, attempted to argue and fight with this independent consultant about their dubious accounting practices. Staff aligned with Young Ran along with Angela Oh walked out of the meeting before this consultant completed his presentation.

Despite two independent financial consultants confirming the absence of a financial crisis, the Board has refused to take responsibility for dividing and fear-mongering the staff about KRC’s finances. To this day, to save face, DJ and Inbo continue to make false claims that the independent consultants are wrong and that KRC remains in a financial crisis.

II. Concerned Staff of KRC Demanded DJ Yoon’s Resignation as Board Chair, and DJ Yoon and Board Members Continue to Retaliate Against Them

By liverightly