WOODLAND HILLS—On Thursday, March 16, authorities arrested Daekun Cho, 38, of Woodland Hills at his residence for allegedly extorting “protection” money from Koreatown businesses. According to the District Attorney, in some cases, Cho would use violence against those who refused to pay. 

This federal investigation began about a year ago and investigators discovered that Cho was demanding protection money from karaoke businesses in Koreatown, as well as from “doumi” – or hostesses – employed by patrons of the karaoke establishments.

“To further his extortion scheme, Cho committed shootings, a carjacking, a kidnapping, and other acts of physical violence,” according to the complaint affidavit. “Cho made explicit threatening statements to the doumi drivers and karaoke bar owners to get them to pay a monthly fee.”

Back in 2022, Cho demanded that a doumi driver at a karaoke bar leave the location and, as the driver and two doumis were driving away, they heard gunshots and one of the doumis suffered a gunshot wound to the neck, according to the affidavit. That incident remains under investigation by the LAPD.

In another incident with a doumi driver who refused to pay the protection money after a price increase, was subject to a baseball bat beating, allegedly by Cho and another individual, on May 8, 2021. That doumi driver suffered a broken arm and multiple lacerations according to the affidavit. 

One victim, who had been paying Cho for about four years, claims that he had decided to stop paying Cho before he allegedly assaulted him and stole approximately $1,000 from him on January 24. The affidavit details how that victim, working with law enforcement, made an extortionate $500 payment to Cho on February 16.

Cho was arrested by special agents from Homeland Security Investigations and officers from the Los Angeles Police Department pursuant to a federal criminal complaint filed last week. Both those agencies are working on this case. The complaint charges Cho with interference with commerce by threats or violence which carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. He is expected to make his initial appearance Friday, March 17, in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.