As Korean Americans Become Visible, They Seek Understanding Black Winner of Essay Contest Describes Her Changing Views

By Daniel B. Wood, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, July 27, 1993 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

As Korean Americans Become Visible, They Seek Understanding Black Winner of Essay Contest Describes Her Changing Views


Daniel B. Wood, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


AS perhaps no event since the Korean War did, the Los Angeles riots of 1992 thrust the image of Korean Americans into the forefront of American awareness.

Television and newspaper pictures of gun-toting Koreans who kept looters at bay from 1,800 destroyed Korean businesses aroused sympathy, anger, and curiosity nationwide.

The ongoing story of their attempts to rebuild communities through aggressive entrepreneurship evokes respect from some, vilification by others. But the three-day upheaval and its aftermath have become a catalyst to greater understanding.

"In the American context, Asian Americans have always been defined primarily as Chinese or Japanese," says Edward Chang, a professor of ethnic studies at California Polytechnic Institute in Pomona. Yet Dr. Chang notes that in the past 25 years, the Korean American population has grown to more than 800,000, including about 300,000 in Los Angeles, the largest enclave of ethnic Koreans outside Seoul.

He adds, "The {L.A.} riots put Koreans officially on the map. It has since become our task to inform the American public who we are, where we stand, and what is our place."

In Los Angeles and other cities with large Korean populations - Atlanta, New York, Seattle, Houston - grass-roots intercommunity organizations have sprung up, cultural and religious exchanges abound, books on history and intercommunity relations have been published, all since 1992. New theater productions about Koreans' heritage are being performed, and Korean studies at universities are receiving a new impetus.

"These things are all a valuable beginning," says C. J. Lee, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif. Noting that Koreans looked to government for help during and after the riots here but found few Korean faces in positions of authority, Dr. Lee says Koreans have made major pushes into the political arena.

"It will take time," he says. "You cannot change people's long-entrenched attitudes in one year, but we have diversified our public profile. People now know we are not just shop owners, but also lawyers, doctors, professors."

A nationwide essay contest sponsored this summer by the Korea Society, a California-based organization promoting US-Korea exchange, shows significant progress in Americans' images of Koreans, according to organizers.

"I can admit that I wasn't too fond of Korean Americans in my community," says Los Angeles resident Kaia Niambi Shivers in her grand-prize-winning essay, announced July 14.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

As Korean Americans Become Visible, They Seek Understanding Black Winner of Essay Contest Describes Her Changing Views
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?