Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Speak Now: An Outsider Views The L.A. Riots From The Inside

Over the years, KoreAm has documented the impact of the 1992 Los Angeles riots on ours and other communities, and urged an understanding of lessons learned. As we count down to the 20th anniversary next year, iamKoreAm.com will be running a riot article, image or testimonial in this space every week until April 29, 2012. Some will be taken from our pages, while others will be excavated from our own personal archives.

We welcome your submissions—first-person memories (no word limit), pictures, poems and (photographed/scanned) artifacts—for this project, too. Please email them to julie@iamkoream.com with the subject line ‘Riots Spot’. Many of us were mere children in 1992, but 19 years later, we have voices. We can speak now.

This article appeared in the April 2007 issue of KoreAm.

Revisiting The Scene Of The Crime

This former reporter who covered the 1992 riots and the events leading up to it reveals a truth much more nuanced than the “black-Korean conflict” headlines of that time.

by Richard Fruto

I was a reporter at the English-language Korea Times Weekly in Los Angeles from late 1990 to early 1993, and I covered the 1992 riots and the aftermath. I also reported on the events that led to the riots, starting with the shooting of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins by Soon Ja Du in March 1991.

As a reporter at the Korea Times, I had what my former editor, K.W. Lee, would call a worm’s-eye view of those events, and as the only non-Korean on the staff (I am Filipino American), I also had an outsider’s view from the inside. What I witnessed was a story that was not as straightforward as the perception that most people have of those events based on what they read and heard from the major media outlets.

Much has been written about these events in the media and academic circles. Yet most of these accounts, retrospectives and commentaries tend to paint the matter in broad terms. For example, most accepted the notion about tensions between Korean immigrant shopkeepers and African-American customers, who accused the former of rudeness, clannishness and exploitation, and described them as newcomers and outsiders who went in and did business without giving back to or hiring from within the community.

These stories of conflict between Korean immigrant merchants and their customers generally ignored the details. The absence of these details unfairly stereotyped each and every Korean immigrant who brought enterprise to the poorest neighborhoods in their own quest for the American Dream.

In my opinion, mainstream TV reporters caused the most damage. Continue reading

Monday Giveaway: Korean BBQ Cook-off Apron & T-shirt

The 3rd annual Korean BBQ Cook-off is less than a week away and to get everyone ready and excited we are giving away two (2) prize packages, each consisting of a “Let’s Meat” T-shirt and apron with logo! This year KAC is closing down an entire city block for the growing event. (You don’t have to be in L.A. to win this prize).

Presented by the Los Angeles chapter of the Korean American Coalition (KAC), this year’s event will be this Saturday (Aug. 6) from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event will feature an Orion Choco Pie eating contest, a special performance by Dumbfoundead and the highly anticipated KBBQ Top Grill Master competition emceed by Paul PK Kim and judged by a celebrity panel. And don’t forget the beer garden featuring craft beers from Beer Belly and Korean Wines.

Be sure to stop by the KoreAm Journal/Audrey Magazine booth and say hello!

Celebrity Judges For Top Grill Master Cook-off: Continue reading

L.A. Riots: Goodbye Los Angeles, Hello Orange County

Over the years, KoreAm has documented the impact of the 1992 Los Angeles riots on ours and other communities, and urged an understanding of lessons learned. As we count down to the 20th anniversary next year, iamKoreAm.com will be running a riot article, image or testimonial in this space every week until April 29, 2012. Some will be taken from our pages, while others will be excavated from our own personal archives.

We welcome your submissions—first-person memories (no word limit), pictures, poems and (photographed/scanned) artifacts—for this project, too. Please email them to julie@iamkoream.com with the subject line ‘Riots Spot’. Many of us were mere children in 1992, but 19 years later, we have voices. We can speak now.

This article appeared in the April 2007 issue of KoreAm.

A Fresh Start

How the L.A. riots gave a former L.A. shopkeeper new wind in Orange County

by Ellyn Pak

Photograph by Eric Sueyoshi

By the end of the four days of violent rioting in South Los Angeles, one of Ellis Yunseong Cha’s friends had been shot in the head while trying to protect his check cashing business. A neighboring business owner’s hamburger stand was burned to the ground. Another friend’s store was also torched and destroyed.

“I never felt danger in my life,” said Cha, who owned a mattress factory and furniture store in the area since 1985. “But that was probably the first time, man, that I felt powerless.” The rioting and looting broke out April 29, 1992 — an infamous day dubbed “Sa-i-gu” by Koreans — after four Los Angeles Police Department officers were acquitted for the brutal beating of African American Rodney King. The day after, a nervous Cha returned to his factory on South Avalon Boulevard.

An angry mob was still there.

At one point, Cha went to the back of the building and peeked out to check out the commotion. More than 20 people were on top of their cars, yelling and shouting with their fists Continue reading

Friday's Link Attack: K-Town Crash, Dia Frampton, NK-SK Talks

Tow truck crashes into Yoshinoya restaurant in Koreatown; 6 injured
Los Angeles Times

A large tow truck crashed through the front window of a Yoshinoya restaurant in L.A.’s Koreatown on Thursday, injuring six people, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“The truck is halfway in the restaurant,” said eyewitness Mirna Lopez, who works at the dental clinic above the restaurant.

Lopez described a chaotic scene. She said a couple employees suffered injuries and one woman was thrown across the restaurant.

She said she overhead the truck driver apologizing for the crash. He told customers and employees at the restaurant that his brakes failed.

Dia Frampton keeping busy with ‘Voice’ tour, planning solo debut
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Dia Frampton is currently writing songs for her debut solo album, according to the article.

“To be honest, I was a little bit desperate,” Frampton says of her decision to audition for “The Voice.” “With the band, I never would have thought I would have gone to TV. But we’d released our record, and it had come and gone. I was still living at my parents’ house. It got to the point where we were like, ‘Well, let’s go on tour this fall,’ and our guitar player would be like, ‘I have a job and I need to keep it. I can’t go out on tour and make $100 a week.’ It was kind of the same thing with Meg. She has a jewelry business right now, and she’s like, ‘I can’t stop making jewelry. This is how I pay my rent.’

Seoul Sets Terms for Resuming Talks With North Korea
New York Times

North Korea must suspend all activities at its nuclear facilities and allow United Nations inspectors to verify the freeze before six-nation talks can restart to discuss economic and other rewards for the country in exchange for ending its nuclear weapons programs, the chief South Korean nuclear negotiator said on Friday.

Forever 21’s cheap chic
Financial Times (U.K.) (registration req’d)

The retailer, famed for its cheap clothes and fast-changing fashions, sells nothing priced over £40 and shuns sales, believing “the first price should be the right price”. The Oxford Street store is the third of 20 it is opening across Europe, and with three outlets planned in China later this year Forever 21 considers itself a “global retailer”, joining the ranks of H&M and Zara. It poses a clear threat to UK chains New Look, Primark, Peacocks and Matalan, which are struggling to increase sales as consumers trim their spending.

Leadership Hall Of Fame: W. Chan Kim And Renée Mauborgne, Authors Of “Blue Ocean Strategy”
Fast Company

We continue our examination of the business book Blue Ocean Strategy with an interview of authors W. Chan Kim And Renée Mauborgne. We explore their motivation for writing the book, and why more companies are using their strategies.

Winning Scaffold Design Provides Lift Above, Movement Below
New York 1

The Department of Buildings unveiled Tuesday the winning design from an international competition to create a new standard of scaffolding in the city.

Known as the “Urban Umbrella,” the design was chosen through the agency and the American Institute of Architects’ “UrbanSHED International Design Competition.”

A total of 164 different scaffolding prototypes were sent in by architects, engineers, designers and students from 28 different countries.

The winning structure was submitted by New-York based designer Young-Hwan Choi, who teamed up with city-based design firm Agencie Group to take his creation to the next level.

Amateur Video of Recent Mudslides in South Korea

July Issue: Through the Eyes of an Environmentalist

A Breath of Fresh Air

Eight out of the 10 smoggiest cities in the nation are in California, with Los Angeles topping that list. Environmental activist Joe Lyou is fighting to clear the air.

by Namju Cho
photographs by Eric Sueyoshi

THE 1970S. Vietnam. Watergate. Joe Lyou was a high school student during one of the most tumultuous times in American history. By the time President Richard Nixon resigned from office in 1974, Lyou’s political consciousness had been awakened.

“Watching a leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world [step down] … and seeing a government be so fundamentally corrupt” served as glaring evidence of the need for the American people to hold the government accountable, he said.

Lyou took up the call to arms, and he has spent the last 20 years playing the role of watchdog over the government’s environmental policy. Now, as president and CEO of the Coalition for Clean Air (CCA), he fights to keep California’s atmosphere breathable. The organization, founded in 1971, has helped push the state to the vanguard of the country’s global warming policy. Lyou has only headed the organization since last year, but he’s been at the center of several high-profile battles himself—and won many of them.

“We often take for granted the opportunities we have to engage our government,” said Lyou. “But we see people … who are willing to die for those rights,” he added, referring to recent democracy uprisings in the Middle East.

Lyou didn’t always aspire to be an environmental champion. His intellectual curiosity drew him initially to a career in academia, and he entered a Ph.D. program in social psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. As he dug deeper into the field, however, he learned about the disturbing power of authority over obedience. The infamous Milgram experiment showed how people were capable of inflicting severe pain on others if merely instructed to do so by someone perceived to be an authority figure. Similarly, the Stanford University prison experiment showed the abusive lengths students would go when given power over their peers. The two seminal experiments were “very powerful demonstrations of the influence of social factors on behavior,” Lyou said.

At the same time, you might say social activism runs in Lyou’s blood. His grandfather fled his native Korea in 1905, five years before the annexation by Japan, and participated in demonstrations against Japanese occupation. He was among the first immigrants to arrive in Los Angeles.

Lyou, often mistaken for Filipino or “nearly every race on the planet,” notes that his Korean American father and English-Irish-Scottish mother faced discrimination in Los Angeles as a biracial couple, even having difficulty finding someone willing to officiate their wedding. But that did not keep Continue reading

Monday's Link Attack: Anthony Kim, North Korea, Korean Sex Scandal

What they said: Anthony Kim

Here’s a Q&A with pro golfer Anthony Kim, who finished tied for 5th place at the British Open yesterday.

Q. Are you just frustrated or angry or what’s the emotion that is kind of prevalent?

ANTHONY KIM: I wouldn’t say angry. I’m in a pretty good spot in my life I’d say. I would just say I’m frustrated, extremely frustrated with how I was playing and the work I felt like I was putting in. I felt like I wasn’t getting anything out of it. So to put myself in contention on Saturday is a very nice feeling.

North Korea Starving, But Elite Open Luxury Restaurant
ABC News

Earlier this week, “The Restaurant at Hana” opened its doors in the North Korea capital. Restaurants come and go with little fanfare in most world capitals, but it get noticed when one opens in the so-called Hermit Kingdom where famine is threatening to return to the country.

Life of horror in gulags of North Korea
New Zealand Herald

“A day before the executions, prison guards would put huge banners to tell everyone what was going to happen, and on the day everyone would be ordered to attend,” the diminutive 50-year-old explains.

“They would take the prisoner to a stake, tie them up and blindfold them. The firing squad would let off 30 or 40 shots until the prisoner’s body had turned to honeycomb. Every time the bullets hit, the stake would crack backwards.”

Who Killed Kim Sah Nae?
The New Yorker

For years, I pondered the strange fate of Kim Sah Nae, a North Korean diplomat killed mysteriously in her home in Islamabad, Pakistan, more than a decade ago. The facts seemed to have been lifted from a spy movie, with hints of espionage, nuclear secrets, and assassination. Officially, Kim died in an accident, when a neighbor’s cook was loading a shotgun, and it went off. I always figured she’d been murdered. Back then, I even toyed with the idea of writing a screenplay, with Gong Li, I imagined, in the starring role.

Debbie Lee’s Poutine Truck Hits the Streets
L.A. Weekly

Chef Debbie Lee must like running the Ahn-Joo food truck because she’s launching another truck, only this one is Canadian not Korean. Along with partner James MacKinnon, the Food Network regular will debut The Poutine Truck (@thepoutinetruck) this weekend at the Little Tokyo Design Festival.

Korean DJ is Seoul’s master of Western rock
Los Angeles Times

For years, Kang [Hyung-Min] approached foreigners to plumb their musical knowledge. Now the student knows more than his teachers, and he’s sought out by expatriates here for the breadth, style and playfulness of his musical acumen.

Kang spins it all: indie, country, punk. But his specialty is the British sound of the 1980s: the likes of Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, the Cure and the Smiths.

Former G.I., South Korean girl he befriended, reunite after nearly four decades
The News Journal (Wilmington, Del.)

Insooni, the famous biracial singer from Korea reunited with a former U.S. soldier she met in 1972.

Lewis was a 19-year-old GI when he saw 15-year-old Insoon, the daughter of a Korean mom and an American soldier who was black. Insoon was kicked out of school for being a mixed-race child. Lewis is now 58 and Insooni is 54.

“She was always sitting outside by herself,” Lewis said. “So a few of the soldiers bought her clothes and helped her as much as we could.”

But Insooni only remembers Lewis, whom she considers a big brother.

“I never forgot his eyes,” Insooni said.

Consulting firm offers tips on U.S. university admission
The Korea Herald

As more South Korean students try to get into top American colleges, they have started to turn to admission consulting companies which provide application assistance and help design extracurricular activities.

A team of experts from Manhattan Global Prep, a New York-based college admission consulting firm, offered advice to Korean students in its seminar last Saturday in Seoul on what students should know about the U.S. college admission process and what the company can offer.

The consulting fee ranges from $10,000 to $40,000, depending on a student’s grades, but guarantees acceptance to at least one school for each applicant and pledges a full refund if he or she is not accepted.

Yuliana Kim-Grant’s new novel, ‘A Shred of Hope,’ released
Korean Beacon

Korean American author Yuliana Kim-Grant‘s new release, A Shred of Hope, starts with the sudden death of an interracial couple—the main character, Jane Park, is Korean American, and her husband is African American. The tragic story unfolds and ensues as we gradually learn about Jane’s broken relationship with her parents. Jane’s Korean parents, who had rejected the idea of their daughter marrying an African American man, had cut ties with her after the couple’s wedding—a wedding they did not even attend. But when the couple one day falls victim to a psychopathic gunman in the subway, the parents must go through a grieving process that is marked not only with loss, but also the guilt and regret over a relationship that can no longer be healed.

Sex scandal rumors fly at Korean Assembly
Korea Herald via AsiaOne

The National Assembly was recently shaken by a series of sex scandals, most of them involving members of the Grand National Party.

Earlier this month, a major daily newspaper reported that a married ruling party lawmaker sexually harassed a drunken woman in a taxi and handed over money to the driver who threatened to upload the recorded file on the Internet.

Speak Now: A Poet's Take On The L.A. Riots

Over the years, KoreAm has documented the impact of the 1992 Los Angeles riots on ours and other communities, and urged an understanding of lessons learned. As we count down to the 20th anniversary next year, iamKoreAm.com will be running a riot article, image or testimonial in this space every week until April 29, 2012. Some will be taken from our pages, while others will be excavated from our own personal archives.

We welcome your submissions—first-person memories (no word limit), pictures, poems and (photographed/scanned) artifacts—for this project, too. Please email them to julie@iamkoream.com with the subject line ‘Riots Spot’. Many of us were mere children in 1992, but 19 years later, we have voices. We can speak now.


“we are our first and last line of defense. me. you.”
~ k.w. lee

koreans mark disaster
with numbers – 4-29 – Sa-I-Gu.
no police. no help.

fire. if I touch
the screen my fingers
will singe or sing.

raw hands rip nikes
out of boxes, break glass
into white cobwebs.

my mother presses her hand
to her ruined lips.


we see grainy reels of a black
fish flopping on concrete
arched, kicked, nightsticked,

flopping not fish but black man –
here I rub my own tender
wrists, ask unanswerable questions –

why are the cops doing this?
my mother will answer simply,
wisely, because they are bad.

of the looters, because they are mad.
and why hurt us – she chokes
because we are close enough.

I moan, slip under the fold
of her. she strokes my hair

and keeps me protected
as I must one day protect her.
Continue reading

Friday's Link Attack: Ken Jeong, Chinese Wannabe Ken Jeong, More

‘Hangover II’ Star Ken Jeong Becomes a Billion-Dollar Star
The Hollywood Reporter

“The times, they are a-changin’,” says Ken Jeong, the unlikely star whose movies Transformers: Dark of the Moon and The Hangover Part II collectively broke the billion-dollar mark this week in global grosses. His new comedy Zookeeper is expected to add another $20 million domestically when it opens this weekend.

“Ken is one of the most fearless comic actors I’ve ever worked with,” Hangover director Todd Phillips tells The Hollywood Reporter. “There’s such a danger to him. Anything can happen when you see him in a movie, and audiences feel that. I’d envisioned Mr. Chow as an older character, but I saw a YouTube video Ken made and said, ‘We’ve got to see this guy.’ In the script, we had him in slacks with no shoes or shirt. Ken said, ‘Y’know, maybe it would be funny if I did it naked.’ We slipped a nudity waiver under his door, ‘cause we were shooting it the next day. Ken will do anything. It’s one of the all-time great comic entrances.”

5 Amazing LA Korean Spots and What to Order

Here are five Korean restaurants in Los Angeles that “Kimchi Chronicles” host Marja Vongerichten recommends.

Saving his best for laughs
Los Angeles Times

No joke: American stand-up comic Joe Wong used to be Xi Huang, a Chinese biochemist. He decided he’d rather tickle funny bones than decode genes.

FIFA bans two North Korean women for failing dope test

World football’s governing body FIFA announced Thursday that two players from the North Korea side have been provisionally suspended from the Women’s World Cup after failing dope tests.

Haute Korean Moves Into Chanterelle Space This Fall
New York Magazine’s GrubStreet

Jung Sik Yim is the chef behind Jung Sik Dang, a Seoul restaurant known for “unusual flavor combinations, high-end ingredients, and a white-tablecloth mind-set.”

Now reps for Yim have confirmed that the 55-seat outpost planned for Tribeca — to be called Jung Sik — will be a similar experience, and will open in the fall.

Starving North Korea faces suspicious donors
Los Angeles Times

Humanitarian groups warn that about 6 million North Koreans face severe food shortages but international donors say they want better oversight before giving more, alleging that most aid is diverted by the regime.

Couple arrested on suspicion of extorting Chinese immigrants
Los Angeles Times

A Hacienda Heights man who operated an illegal nightclub and allegedly extorted members of the San Gabriel Valley’s Chinese community has been arrested and charged with animal cruelty, child endangerment and drug and illegal weapons possession, authorities said Friday.

Sheng Hui Chen, 38, and his wife, Yulan Hu, 31, of Hacienda Heights, both Chinese nationals who entered the United States on tourist visas, were arrested and charged after an investigation that began with allegations of extortion and illegal weapon possession, said Sgt. Steve Kim of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

South Koreans Balk at Saturdays Without School

Chung Eunjung, a mother of two sons in Seoul, says South Korea’s plan to give children extra playtime by ending Saturday classes means only one thing: more private tutoring.

On June 14, President Lee Myung Bak’s government announced it would recommend that Korea’s schools end the Saturday classes, a feature of school life since the 1950s. Most schools now hold classes for four hours on two Saturdays a month. President Lee wants Koreans to consume more, and he hopes to wean the school system off its obsession with standardized tests. He figures giving kids and families the weekend off would help achieve both goals.

Judging penis size by comparing index, ring fingers
Los Angeles Times

A new South Korean urology study found a correlation between index finger to ring finger ratio and penis size.

Penis length cannot be determined by how big his hands or feet are — those and other supposed indicators have been widely discredited for years. But now a team of Korean researchers has produced what may be a more reliable guide: the ratio of the length of his index finger to that of his ring finger. The lower that ratio, the longer the penis may be, the researchers wrote Monday in the Asian Journal of Andrology.

Check out the new video for David Choi’s “By My Side” after the jump: Continue reading