While the U.S. Congress worries about scars on its integrity from the trail of gifts and alleged bribes left by Korean rice dealer Tongsun Park, another group in the Washington area is finding itself the butt of a new generation of ethnic slurs spawned by what one called the "T.S.P. affair."
They are Tongsun Park's compatriots, an estimated 30,000 korean-born residents in and around Washington who say that mention of their nationality often elicits remarks like, "Oh, you got some cash?"
"There are too many jokes from American people about Tongsun Park, jokes that (insinuate) that most Koreans do what he did," said Jae Ho Lee, a 35-year-old Korean key-punch operator living in Arlington.
Koreans have complained to Lee that when they applied for jobs, prospective employers kiddingly ask, "How come you want to work? If you go to Tongsun Park, he will help you."
Lee said that since the Park scandal broke, some Korean people are finding it more difficult to obtain employment.
Many Washington area Koreans, well educated, fluent in English and hard working at such diverse jobs as bank teller, computer programmer, government economist and grocery store proprietor - are concerned about that ethnic remarks, especially since most of them are still waiting to become U.S. citizens.
The Korean community is one of the largest expatriate minority groups in the Washington area, according to the South Korean information office. The majority arrived during the last five years, and the largest group of them (about 5,000) lives Arlington County.
Tongsun Park's notoriety makes them feel embarrassed, shameful and angry, they said. "Everybody likes the money, Who doesn't like the money?" But (Park) is ridiculous. My country people are mad at him because he makes all (of us) look bad," said 21-year-old Myung Ra, a food preparer at National Airport.
They are defensive about Park's behavior and say that, "He doesn't represent Korean people. He is an unserupulous businessman," said 43-year-old international economist Thomas K. Lee.
Neverthless most of the Korean queried think that the press has exaggerated Park's activities and unfairly singled him out among lobbyists for criticism.
"All Koreans are saying that the Japanese, the Arabian countries. Egypt and Israel, they know how to (influence Congress) better than Tongsun Park . . ." Lee said.
Lee also criticized the press for what he considers its one-sided portrayal of Park's role in the alleged bribery scheme. "Two hands must clap together to make a noise. I blame Congress as much as anyone else."
While the Koreans say their primary loyality is to the American government, they are hurt by the slight to "Korea's honor" by the revelations of Park's lobbying efforts. "We are angry that our country lost face." said Chung Kee Yung, editor of a Korean language newspaper in Arlington.
Some far that relations between Korea and the American government will deteriorate and others are bewildered as to why such lobbying efforts were thought necessary in the first place.
"We know that the U.S. goverment was pro-Korean for so many years. There was no question in Koreans' minds that the U.S. would forget us. So why did Tongsun Park do these unneccessary and nasty things?" asked one Korean who declined to be named.
There are Koreans, however, who wonder what all the fuss is about. "Somebody misunderstands somthing," said a 41-year-old mechanic, Byung Sup Kim. He believes that Park simply "tried to make his own business bigger."
Myung Soo Kim explains that "Those who are on Park's side say. "We needed rice; our government had to pay a commission and luckily Park took it and he spent it on senators." What is wrong with that."
Myung Soo Kim, who said he attended primary school in Seoul with Park, believes that most of Park's problems stem not from media exaggerations, but from Park's own tall stories.
"I think if he spent $10,000, he would say he spent $1 million," Kim noted, characterizing the millionaire's son as a man who "likes to spend money, give parties, dinners and gifts. He's that kind of person."
And despite Park's pressing legal problems, he is "a lucky guys." Kum said, chucking. "He made a lot of money with just his smiles and brains."