Monday’s Link Attack: KJ Choi, Karaoke Fire, Jeju Island
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: May 7th, 2012
Filed Under: BLOG
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Korean, black communities move on, learning from racial confrontation
Yonhap News

Korean-American Thomas Pak had little idea of the ensuing storm that would be sparked by the encounter last December inside his South Dallas gas station with African-American Jeffrey Muhammad.

Their exchange was relatively brief, but if some accounts are to be believed, it was also angry and weighed down by racial overtones.

And it launched a months-long boycott of Pak’s business by members of the largely African-American community. Corralled outside his premises, they urged people passing by not to give the 40-year-old their patronage.

Los Angeles: Home Sweet Home

Here’s a great photo essay from Reuters photographer Hyungwon Kang.

During the dangerous and unpredictable riots, I too came close to becoming a victim several times. A man with a baseball bat chased me down when I tried to document people looting during the first night. My car was hit with bricks and beer bottles when I drove through Florence & Normandie where other drivers and journalists weren’t so lucky to escape without injuries. My wife was terrified not knowing where I was during the first three days and nights of the riots.

Retired police lieutenant, wife, admit guilt in cafe scheme
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Retired Las Vegas police Lt. Benjamin Kim and his wife, Lisa Kim, have agreed to plead guilty in a scheme to fraudulently obtain a bank loan for the Courthouse Cafe, once a popular restaurant at the Regional Justice Center.

The Kims, who are obtaining a divorce, are to enter guilty pleas to one federal count of misprision of felony “for their concealment of an attempt to commit bank fraud,” according to court papers filed by federal prosecutors that were unsealed on Friday.

In South Korea, a small island town takes on the navy
Los Angeles Times

The military sees Jeju Island as a strategic spot for a naval base. But the town of Gangjeong wants the island and its harbor and coral reefs to stay unchanged.

Fire kills nine at South Korean karaoke bar
AFP via Google News

A fierce blaze swept through a karaoke lounge in a busy commercial district of the South Korean city of Busan, killing nine people including three Sri Lankans, police said on Sunday.

The fire, which broke out on Saturday night, injured 25 others, who were taken to hospital for treatment. One is in a critical condition.

Witnesses reported hearing a loud bang before smoke quickly engulfed the bar, which has 28 rooms and is on the third floor of a six-storey building in the major southern port city.

Police warn Chinatown of robbing hypnotists
Boston Herald

A 57-year-old Cantonese-speaking woman claims a trio of thieves hypnotized her into giving them $160,000 in life savings in a bizarre scam that has Chinatown leaders raising alarms about bewitching bamboozlers — and experts raising their eyebrows about the victim’s spellbinding tale.

“It seems like it’s something that’s potentially very dangerous,” said Mark Liu, deputy director of Boston’s Chinese Progressive Association. “I think the elderly are particularly vulnerable because they obviously would have a hard time just walking away.”

South Korea Steps Up Fight Against Human Flesh Pills from China
Wall Street Journal

South Korean customs officials are boosting efforts to stamp out illegal smuggling of drugs that are allegedly coming from China. Reason: The drugs supposedly contain human flesh.

Since August, Korean authorities have discovered nearly 17,500 of the human flesh capsules in the luggage of tourists and in international mail, the state-run Korea Customs service said in a statement Monday.

Raiders Sign Offensive Lineman Ed Wang

The Oakland Raiders have signed offensive lineman Ed Wang, who has played in six career games, all with the Buffalo Bills in 2010.

The 6-5, 321-pound Wang was waived-injured by the Bills last season. He entered the league as the Bills’ fifth-round selection (140th overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft, becoming the first-ever Chinese-American player drafted into the league.

KJ Choi’s gift to The Players
Florida Times-Union

Defending Players champion K.J. Choi bought more than 7,000 “Choco-Pies” from his native South Korea and had them delivered to the TPC Sawgrass. The first shipment was delivered to the volunteer area to thank them for their work on the tournament.

Tuesday’s Link Attack: LA Riots, Margaret Cho, Steven Yeun
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: May 1st, 2012
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For Koreans, damage from the L.A. riots went deep
Los Angeles Times

Twenty years ago, they came to Dr. Man Chul Cho suffering from symptoms of hwa-byung, the “anger sickness” of Korean folklore: They couldn’t sleep, felt anxious and depressed, had muscle aches and stomach pains.

They had survived the riots, but couldn’t forget. Some were considered fierce defenders — they’d battled looters in public shootouts. Others had been all but invisible, pleading vainly for help from police while their shops burned.

They were so angry, bewildered and frightened that they were willing to buck custom and culture and trust a stranger for therapy.

Liquor store owner links old and new Koreatown
Los Angeles Times

Young Ok Lee’s store, a neighborhood institution, survived the riots. Now amid the thriving, hip Koreatown, she still serves the other Koreatown of immigrants, working-class families and mom and pop stores.

Accused Oikos University shooter pleads not guilty
Oakland Tribune

One Goh, 43, made the plea through a Korean language interpreter and also answered yes to a couple questions regarding his approval to waiving his right for a speedy trial.

Obama says N. Korea can’t leverage anything from provocations
Yonhap News

U.S. President Barack Obama made clear Monday that North Korea will be able to gain nothing from its provocative strategy.

After summit talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda here, Obama emphasized that the old pattern of Pyongyang taking provocative actions and getting concessions from the outside world is finished.

Soo Kang, Lincoln’s Interior Design Chief, On Orchestrating A Turnaround
Fast Company

Kang, a classically trained harpist with a penchant for visual arts, is about as far from a gearhead as you can imagine. But she caught the car maker’s attention when she won first place for her design in a student competition of a four-door luxury sedan. She’s been with the company ever since.

Korean Business Revitalizes Boulevard
Montgomery Advertiser

Hyundai isn’t just building cars. The Korean car manufacturer is helping to reshape the landscape of Montgomery’s businesses. The proof is obvious to those driving down East Boulevard, where a shopping center once in foreclosure is now thriving and a shuttered restaurant is now attracting new customers.

Stratford Square, under the direction of Korean-American family-owned Sys-Con LLC, has blossomed into a multicultural hub. Now there are four Korean businesses in the center, including the Greater Montgomery Korean Association headquarters, along with successful Chinese, Vietnamese and Hispanic businesses.

Support Movement for N.Korean Defectors Grows
Chosun Ilbo

Protests against China’s repatriation of North Korean defectors that went on for 77 days across the street from the Chinese Embassy in Seoul are evolving into a broader movement aimed at educating and supporting defectors from the North.

Margaret Cho Finds Her Roots
Philadelphia Magazine

Margaret Cho may be more closely associated with her gay-empowering comedy routines with no shortage of blue material (hello, Gwen!) but the comedian takes a serious look at her Korean heritage in Finding Your Roots, a television series that airs this Sunday (May 6, 8 p.m.) on PBS.

Cho, who currently stars in Drop Dead Diva, will learn more about her Asian roots as a research team traces her ancestry back to her great-grandfather who’s clan can still be linked to modern-day North Korea.

5 Questions with Steven Yeun
Korea Economic Institute

Do you think that over the years the perception of Korean or Asian actors has changed in the United States?
SY: I think it’s slowly changing. I think there are roles out there that help to change that perception. I’m very fortunate to playing something that isn’t stereotypical. I don’t know if that is going to be a hard changing trend, but these are small steps that are making big waves and hopefully five, ten years from now, we won’t be having many conversations about if Asian-Americans can make it in this industry or not.

Korean Film Festival Coming to Hollywood (Los Angeles)

Marking the first time in its 85-year history, Korean performers will cast their hand and footprints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on Saturday, June 23. This includes Korean actor Byung-hun Lee, an award-winning international star who recently appeared as Storm Shadow in Paramount Pictures’ G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and will be seen this summer in the sequel, G.I. Joe 2: The Retaliation, alongside Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson. Lee’s rise to fame was his role in A Bittersweet Life.

Timing of Pak’s shoulder injury “couldn’t have been worse”
Golf Digest

According to swing coach Tom Creavy, who says the timing of Se Ri Pak’s shoulder injury “couldn’t have been worse,” it is unlikely the LPGA Hall of Famer will be able to play in the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis., the site of her most memorable victory as a professional.

20,000 K-Pop Fans Mesmerized at Hollywood Bowl Music Festival 2012

The audience was filled up with Korean American immigrants as well as non-Koreans who have traveled from North America, South America and as far as Europe proving the event to be the recognized as an international festival leading the communication between different ethnicity, countries, and generations through K-Pop. The diverse audience proved distance and language wasn’t an issue in attending the concert.

Taetiseo’s (SNSD) ‘Twinkle’ Music Video

The Girls Generation sub group Taetiseo (TTS) dropped the video for its first single and has already racked up 1.7 million views in a little more than 24 hours. Gee.

Members of Congress Remember the L.A. Riots
Author: KoreAm
Posted: April 29th, 2012
Filed Under: BLOG
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Congresswoman Judy Chu

In remembrance of the 20th anniversary of Saigu today, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus—made up of members of Congress of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) descent, as well as of non-Asian members dedicated to promoting the well-being of the AAPI community—released the following statements:

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), CAPAC Chair: “With the L.A. riots and Saigu, we saw longstanding economic distress, racial tensions and social injustice tear apart one of the greatest cities in the world. In the aftermath of these tragic events, diverse communities came together to build bridges rather than walls. Through greater engagement, meaningful dialogue, and mutual respect, we can move beyond our past challenges and work towards greater economic opportunities and social justice. Twenty years later, there is still much work to be done, and the memory of the riots reminds us of the need to persevere in these efforts.” Continue Reading »

April Issue: LA Riots, In Our Own Words
Author: KoreAm
Posted: April 29th, 2012
Filed Under: April 2012 , Back Issues , BLOG , FEATURED ARTICLE
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A view of Vermont Avenue in Koreatown, with smoke clouds in the background. ©HYUNGWON KANG


KoreAm retraces the days and nights of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, a defining event in Korean America’s collective history.

additional interviews by K.W. Lee, Julie Ha, John H. Lee, Paula Daniels, Alex Ko, Katherine Yungmee Kim, Sophia Kim and Emily Kim

The events of April 29, 1992, have been referred to as a riot, a rebellion, an uprising, a civil unrest. For many Koreans, it’s always been 4.29, following the standard cultural shorthand for the dates of historic tragedies. Yet over the past 20 years, the primary narrative of 4.29 has rarely included Korean American perspectives beyond stereotyped notions of victims or vigilantes. This oral history seeks to rectify that in some small measure, and to give those who didn’t witness the traumatic days and nights of fires, chaos and violence a sense of what Korean Americans went through. The events, after all, have been referred to by some as the birth of Korean America, a characterization that isn’t far off.

In the period leading up to 4.29, the mainstream media had fed the public a series of stories on the rising tensions in South Central Los Angeles between African American residents and the Korean merchant class that had become a fixture there. Then, in March 1991, Soon Ja Du, a Korean immigrant storeowner, shot and killed Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old African American customer, following a violent scuffle between the two at Du’s South Central liquor store, worsening an already strained situation. Just 13 days earlier, the brutal beating of African American motorist Rodney King by four white Los Angeles Police Department officers vividly demonstrated the iron-fisted tactics under then-Chief Daryl Gates. The social, economic and political structures seemed aligned to oppress, and the city waited uneasily on April 29, 1992, for the verdict in the excessive force case against the police officers who beat King. Continue Reading »

April Issue: We Are All to Blame for the L.A. Riots
Author: KoreAm
Posted: April 27th, 2012
Filed Under: April 2012 , Back Issues , BLOG
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In 1992, most of the children of Korean riot victims were too young to speak out and explain their family’s situations, though they possessed a skill that eluded their immigrant parents: speaking fluent English. Twenty years later, this generation has grown up.  They can speak now, and though 4.29 remains a painful subject, these children of Saigu carry its legacy into the future.


On April 29, 1992, I was walking home from school with my two older brothers, just like any other typical day.  We attended a small private Christian school and lived in a nice neighborhood in Los Angeles County. But once we got home and my brothers turned on the TV, news footage of crowds gathering at local businesses dominated the airwaves. Then 12 years old, I worried for my mother, who was still at her gas station in Compton. She and my father had run the station together since the late 1970s. Mom inherited it from my father who died from cancer in 1990.

After he passed away, mom, my brothers and I worked at the family business. We would man the bulletproof cashier’s booth; we sold gas, stocked soda, candy, cigarettes and other items. I’d often help my mom during the graveyard shifts. Sometimes I’d get into fights with customers.  Sometimes I’d get yelled at and called “chink,” “jap,” “gook,” “nip” or whatever racist term seemed to be the flavor of the day. Sometimes I yelled back.  Most of the time I tried to mind my own business and work. I didn’t want to get robbed or shot like some of the other Korean business owners in the area. Continue Reading »

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