A Korean woman in Japan says she was hospitalized after being served a cup with bleach in it. She's accusing the restaurant of a hate crime.

Young Asian woman eating freshly made sushi with side dish and green tea in a Japanese restaurant.
Young Asian woman eating freshly made sushi with side dish and green tea in a Japanese restaurant.Getty Images
  • A Korean woman said she was the victim of a hate crime in a Tokyo restaurant, per local media.

  • She said she was served a cup of water with bleach in it and had to be taken to the hospital.

  • The Korean Embassy has asked local police to investigate the incident, per local reports.

A Korean woman is accusing a Tokyo restaurant of a hate crime after she was served a cup of water containing liquid detergent, according to South Korean media.

The woman, surnamed Kang, told the South Korean broadcaster JTBC that the incident happened at an unnamed high-end restaurant in Tokyo's Ginza district on August 31, according to the English-language South Korean newspaper The Korea Times.

Kang said she and her Japanese husband were served two cups of drinking water at their request, but that she noticed an unusual smell after taking the first sip, the newspaper reported.

"After the second sip, my throat began to hurt so bad I couldn't even talk properly," she told JTBC, per the newspaper's translation.

Kang said that after raising the issue, the staff member who served her the drink threw it away without offering any explanation, the paper reported.

It was only after her husband protested that the waitress admitted the water was poured from a container of bleach-laced water, she said.

The restaurant later said the staff had mistaken a stainless steel container filled with the cleaning agent for a regular container of drinking water, according to the newspaper.

"We apologize to the customer who was food poisoned and her family for causing great pain and inconvenience," the restaurant said in a written statement, per the South Korean newspaper JoongAng Daily.

But Kang claims to be the victim of a hate crime for being Korean, per The Times, saying it was impossible to confuse the two containers because they were visibly different.

After developing stomach pains and nausea, she was taken to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with acute food poisoning, according to the outlet.

The JoongAng Daily reported that the Korean Embassy in Tokyo has requested police conduct a "speedy, fair" investigation, while a spokesperson for South Korea's foreign ministry said it was notified of the incident.

The Embassy did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

While Japan and South Korea are allies, racism towards Koreans is at the root of long-standing and unresolved problems dating back to Japan's occupation, according to the United States Institute of Peace.

In August 2022, a 23-year-old Japanese man was sentenced to four years in prison for setting empty houses on fire in a neighborhood of Korean residents in Kyoto Prefecture in 2021 "out of a one-sided hatred of Koreans," prosecutors said at the time, according to The Japan Times.

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