Newsday editors suspended columnist Jimmy Breslin for two weeks without pay Tuesday night after they heard a tape of Breslin calling in to a radio talk show and making light of ethnic slurs he made last week about a Korean American colleague who had criticized his column.

Breslin's suspension came after days of turmoil at Newsday's Manhattan offices, where Asian staff members, supported by several journalists organizations, were outraged by Breslin's behavior.

After a Newsday general assignment reporter, 25-year-old Ji-Yeon Mary Yuh, criticized several of Breslin's columns, the 61-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner last Friday began screaming racial slurs about Yuh within hearing of others in the newsroom. He called her "slant-eyed" and a "yellow cur."

Breslin later apologized to the staff by internal computer message, and a Newsday spokesman said then that with the apology and a reprimand, Breslin would continue his thrice-weekly column. Two years ago, an editor at the paper was fired after making a racist comment to a black editor on the staff.

Breslin could not be reached for comment yesterday. But Yuh said that she and others are pleased by the decision.

"I think it's good. Newsday is doing the right thing," she said. "They have shown that their talk about being sensitive about needs of minorities is not just talk."

The suspension, however, brought an outcry from Breslin readers yesterday, many of whom called the paper to complain.

Don Forst, editor of New York Newsday, said yesterday that the management had believed the reprimand and apology were sufficient until they heard Breslin's radio remarks. Forst said those remarks indicated "a lack of sensitivity to what has been and continues to be a painful episode."

Breslin's comments came during the morning talk show hosted by Howard Stern, a WXRK-FM personality in New York City whose show is simulcast in Washington on WJFK-FM. Stern, who is known for racial and ethnic jokes and who has tangled with the Federal Communications Commission over his sexually frank language, asked listeners to call and show their support for Breslin. Shortly afterward, Breslin himself called.

"I have one social problem coming out of all of this," Breslin said on the air, explaining that his nephew plans to marry a Korean woman in September. "Now, does this mean I can't go to the wedding?" he said.

Stern commented that Breslin could go to the wedding but he had to eat with chopsticks and wear a kimono.

"I have a sister-in-law, who's the mother of the groom, who would probably like to cut my ear off now," Breslin added.

Newsday Editor Anthony Marro said yesterday that he and Forst learned the details of the radio interview during a long and tense meeting with Asian reporters Tuesday night. Afterward, the editors obtained a tape of it and decided to suspend the popular Breslin without pay.

"This newsroom was being torn apart by what was going on," Marro said. "To go onto a show like that and banter about it -- in a breakfast-radio type way -- is evidence either of a lack of concern or awareness of the real hurt and anger that is rampant throughout this whole staff."

Marro said that the Tuesday night meeting had concluded with editors saying they were not going to suspend Breslin since he had apologized and been reprimanded.

"They {the Asian reporters} were very angry, very hurt," Marro said. "But we told them we understood all of their anger but felt it had been the right decision. ... We didn't feel we could escalate {the punishment} because it would send a message ... that we would change our decisions if someone, no matter how well meaning, increased the volume. ...

"In the view of a lot of us, {the radio remarks} trivialized the whole event," Marro said.

Yuh said that the criticism she sent Breslin last week was not the first time she had let colleagues know she disapproved of their work. In two other cases, she said she sent memos chastising columnists for what she called "Japan bashing." In all three cases, Yuh said she sent copies to Marro and Forst.

One of the recipients, Dennis Duggan, "called me up and defended himself, and we had a friendly, professional talk," Yuh said.

She said another columnist, Robert Reno, never responded to her note. Reno said that he did not recall her criticism, although he said he did receive a similar critique of one column from other colleagues.

"The stench of conformity pervades the whole affair," said Reno, who has written a column in defense of Breslin for publication today. "The worst-kept secret in New York for 30 years has been that Breslin has a perverse and very offensive temper. He doesn't argue with that. If he wasn't an original, then he'd just be another windy Irishman. As he is, he's a great writer."

Reno said that although Breslin's comments were wrong, the suspension for his radio comments came "at a point when almost anything he said other than an abject apology or the time of day, would be found offensive by people who are waiting to be offended."

"Is Breslin a racist and is he a sexist?" asked Reno. "The body of his work shows that without a shadow of a doubt he is the antithesis of a racist and it also shows that he's not a sexist."