Omaha mayor apologizes for calling Korean woman a 'Facebook troll' for using the Korean alphabet to spell her name

The Republican mayor of Omaha, Neb., who frequently uses social media to make comments about George Floyd's death, has apologized for calling a Korean American woman "a Facebook troll" and "a coward" for using the Korean alphabet to write her own name.

Soyeon Sohn, who was adopted when she was 4-months old and raised in Hastings, Neb, commented on Facebook this week after Mayor Jean Stothert ordered a city-wide curfew in response to the protests over deaths of Floyd in Minneapolis and James Scurlock in Omaha.

Scurlock, a 22-year-old black man, was shot dead by a white bar owner during a fight with several people last week in Omaha. Scurlock's death has fueled protesters' anger in the city and inspired chants, "What about James?"

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert apologizes for racially insensitive Facebook post about Korean American woman. 

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert apologizes for racially insensitive Facebook post about Korean American woman.  (City of Omaha)

In her online comments, Sohn said the mayor was demonstrating cowardice, not leadership in her response to the protests over Floyd and Scurlock.

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That's when the mayor responded: "A Facebook troll who hides behind symbols and doesn't list their name, is a coward."

Sohn used the symbols from the Korean alphabet for her name, prompting Stothert's wildly misguided response.

"Basically, she called me a coward and a poor leader, and I fired ack like a third grader and called her a coward."

— Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert

When first asked if she was going to apologize, Stothert said no. She eventually reversed course and said she didn't realize the characters were Sohn's name and formally apologized to Sohn at the end of a news conference about the city's curfew on Wednesday.

"Basically, she called me a coward and a poor leader, and I fired back like a third grader and called her a coward," Stothert said. "I shouldn't have done that."

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She added: "In no way did I mean to insult her heritage... or her background ... and so for that, I apologize."

David Kang, president of the Korean Association of Nebraska, told the Ohama World-Herald that he, Sohn and Stothert plan to meet Friday to discuss the matter and added that the mayor's apology had been accepted by the association's board.