Co-Founder of Choi’s Kimchi Died Defending His Girlfriend From a Home Invader

November 20, 2020

PORTLAND, Oregon—Police and US marshals arrested 30-year-old Allen Coe on Wednesday, November 18, accusing him of stabbing to death Matthew Choi, co-founder of Choi’s Kimchi.

Coe entered Choi’s apartment around 2 am while he was sleeping on the couch and his girlfriend was sleeping in the bedroom, according to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.

The couple had just celebrated Choi’s birthday with friends just a few hours earlier.

The girlfriend woke up from the sound of the front door closing and saw a dark figure run toward the bathroom. She immediately woke up Choi and then called the police.

Choi’s girlfriend then went into the bathroom while on the phone with 911. Coe allegedly came in and tried to stab her. That’s when Choi entered the room, grabbed the suspect, and was stabbed multiple times. The girlfriend was not injured, according to KGW 8.

When police finally arrived on the scene, they found a green backpack in the communal trash room next to Choi’s apartment. The backpack contained two social security cards that had been stolen from two different residents at Choi’s complex, reports KGW 8.

Upon further investigation, police identified Coe wearing a green backpack in surveillance footage around the complex on the night of the murder. Coe could not explain how the backpack ended up next to Choi’s room when interviewed by investigators.

Authorities say Allen Coe and Matthew Choi lived in the same apartment complex. Coe was booked into Multnomah County jail on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, unlawful use of a weapon, identity theft, and first-degree burglary, according to KATU 2.

“This is going to be a big hole in our small food world,” said Nikki Guerrero, founder of Hot Mama Salsa, last month.

She knew Choi from the Portland Farmers Market. They also both sat on the board. She said his connection to his roots inspired her.

33-year-old Matthew Choi was fatally stabbed to death inside his apartment building early Sunday morning, October 25, according to KGW 8.

Matthew Choi is the co-founder of Choi’s Kimchi and helped grow his mother’s kimchi recipe from a Portland Farmers Market booth to a supermarket staple throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Choi was stabbed to death inside his apartment building near the intersection of Southeast 12th Avenue and Pine Street. The building does have a secure entrance, police said.

“Matt’s life was senselessly taken away early Sunday morning when a stranger broke into his apartment while he was asleep and took his life.”

After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in business and sports marketing, Choi and his beloved mother, Chong Choi, took classes in commercial food production at Oregon State University’s Food Innovation Center. They then set up a commercial kitchen at their Gresham home back in 2012.

In those early days, the then-23-year-old Choi handled all the packaging, labeling, marketing, deliveries, and social media for the company. He worked until his fingers bled.

According to The Oregonian, Choi’s Kimchi took the market by storm in the early 2010s. Matthew tweaked his mother’s recipe by adding ingredients used on his grandmother’s side. By 2012, Choi’s Kitchen doubled production from 150 to 300 jars a week, which quickly caught the eye of representatives from Whole Foods.

Feature Images via KGW 8 & The Oregonian

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