Creative Non-Fiction, Classroom Articles, Stories, etc.
Peter Son: Shame and Ponzi Schemes in California’s Korean Community

Journalism 449: Covering Fraud

For Diana Henriques (New York Times), June 2013.


“You've got to kill that bastard!”

The shout echoed in Korean, bouncing off the dark brown wooden walls as 38-year-old Peter Son was escorted into the Oakland courtroom. According to San Francisco Chronicle reporter Henry K. Lee, the cry came from the gallery of Son’s Korean American victims, whom Son had defrauded in an $85 million Ponzi scheme that lasted five years. In 2010, Son was charged with two counts of wire fraud, sentenced to 15 years in federal prison, and ordered to pay $62 million in restitution.

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Down the Barrel

Journalism 240: Creative Non-fiction

For John McPhee (The New Yorker), May 2012.


On the corner of Boulevard and Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia, is a row of one-story, grayish-blue houses. A line of parked cars with windshields covered in a dusty film of lime-colored pollen signals that spring has come to the South. The porches of the houses face the historic Fire Station Number 6 across the street, the United States’ first racially integrated firehouse. Just down the road is the birthplace of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

A national parks ranger there named Travis, in his wide-brimmed hat and forest-green uniform, points to the houses.

“Those there are called shotgun houses,” he says. “Anyone know why?”

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© 2013 by Vivienne Chen. All rights reserved.

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