Movie assailant punches a kid, becomes a folk hero

A 10-year-old gets punched in the face for being too noisy at "Titanic" -- and the Internet applauds the beating

Topics: Parenting, Movies, Social Issues,

Movie assailant punches a kid, becomes a folk hero (Credit: iStockphoto/IBushuev)

It’s a general rule of thumb that a grown man doesn’t get a lot of support for knocking out a 10-year-old child’s teeth. But Yong Hyun Kim has won himself a few fans lately for doing just that.

Back on April 11, the 21-year-old Washington state man settled in with his girlfriend to enjoy “Titanic” in 3D — right in front of a boy known only in police documents as KJJ. What ensued led to a night in jail and a charge of second-degree assault.

According to the Associated Press, the boy, who was at the theater with three friends and his mother, says “they were watching the movie and talking when Kim told them to be quiet.” KJJ maintains that they settled down, but when he later whispered something to a companion, Kim “jumped over the seat, threw an iced drink at them and punched KJJ in the face.” He says Kim told him something like, “You know what, I paid a lot of money to see this movie.”

Kim, however, insists that the boys “were hitting him and his girlfriend with popcorn, running back and forth in the aisle and bumping him with their arms.” He says that when he confronted the group, “they started laughing at him,” provoking him to take a swing at the boy. “I got so mad that it just happened,” he told police, adding that he didn’t realize his tormentors were children. He now faces the possibility of up to nine months in jail. When police arrived at 10:40 p.m., they found the boy in the lobby “bleeding from the nose and missing a tooth.”

What really transpired that night is still under investigation. I do know that, as a parent, I would never take a group of 10 year olds out late on a school night to see Kate Winslet’s boobies. Nor would I, under any circumstances, let them talk through a movie, as KJJ himself admits he and his friends were doing. I’ve suffered through too many other families and that precise brand of self-centered behavior. And that’s why Kim’s assertion that a bunch of kids wouldn’t stop wrecking his movie-going experience has struck a powerful chord of recognition among moviegoers.

Among the online commenters horrified that an adult would physically assault a child instead of just getting a manager, there have been plenty of folks who seem to know exactly where the guy was coming from. On USA Today, commenters have called Kim “a hero” and even offered “to pay for the man’s defense.” The more level-headed commenters suggest he should have hit the parents instead. And on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s site, comments have been flooded by those who admit they’ve “wanted to do that” themselves and “understand the guy’s feeling behind it.”

As ticket prices skyrocket, the movie-going experience continues to deteriorate. If you’ve gone to a film lately – or for that matter, any public entertainment — you’ve likely experienced the astonishingly rude behavior of individuals who seem unaware that they’re not in their own living rooms. Texting. Talking. Kicking seats. It’s exasperating and sometimes outright experience-ruining. And we rarely get the satisfying experience I once had when a row of rowdy teens were talking and texting during the film and a patron with roughly the dimensions of the screen barreled over, leaned down and whispered something to the group. I don’t know what he said, but the kids all got up and left. When they did, there was a palpable exhalation of admiring relief in the theater. And when an Austin, Texas, woman was kicked out the Alamo Drafthouse last year for texting, the theater’s cheeky pride in her outrage promptly went viral.

It’s inexcusable to assault someone for being annoying or disruptive or even for laughing at you. Furthermore, Kim’s assertion that he couldn’t see how young the kids were – when he saw well enough to land a face punch — seems a little shaky. Don’t knock out little boys’ teeth. In fact, don’t knock out anybody’s if you can help it. If you applaud hitting kids, you’re probably a bad person. But the lesson here – whether you’re a child or a grownup — is pretty simple. If you don’t know how to behave in public and you don’t like losing teeth or going to jail, for God’s sake, just stick to Netflix.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>