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Seoul Food in Urbana

 David Eun and Bruce Patton  
Product number:
24 pages
Product Type:
Role Play Package
Link to Faculty Author Page:

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Three-person mediation involving representatives of local Korean and African-American communities over racial tensions arising from an alleged shoplifting incident; a city representative serves as the mediator.

Tensions between the African-American and Korean communities in economically depressed Urbana, where Koreans are the sole providers of groceries in the area, have been building for some time. Many African-American customers have long complained that the grocery store owners are unfriendly and unfairly accuse customers of stealing, while Korean store owners contend that many of their African-American customers use racial slurs and shoplift.

A recent incident involving an elderly African-American woman and a Korean grocery store owner has caused tensions to explode into a massive boycott, led initially by the woman’s family, but gaining support throughout the community. The recently elected African-American mayor was initially neutral on the issue, but as the boycott grew, the mayor decided to intervene. Korean grocers do not wish to be driven out of business, and while African-Americans would prefer to support the establishment of African-American owned grocery stores, they have no convenient, immediate alternative to the existing Korean-American grocery stores.

Legal representatives of the local African-American and Korean-American communities are now meeting with the mayor’s Chief Aide for Urban Affairs in an effort to try to resolve the conflict. During the discussions, a newsflash will inform the parties that the boycott situation has worsened and that an urgent solution is necessary.

The product includes: 

  • Teaching Notes
  • General Instructions
  • Newsflash: Crisis in Urbana
  • Confidential Instructions for the African-American Communities For Action Representative
  • Confidential Instructions for the Mayor’s Chief Aide for Urban Affairs
  • Confidential Instructions for the Korean-American Merchants Association of Urbana

Learning Objectives

To provide experience of a multi-party mediation involving a sensitive issue for which the resolution has to be reached under time pressure. 

Subjects Covered

Mediation, Arbitration, Ethnic Dispute Resolution


Geographic: United States

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