Screenshots from the Sa-I-Gu documentary, produced by Christine Choy, Elaine Kim, and Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, about the aftermath of the LA Riots, from the perspectives of Korean immigrant women. Subtitles pictured are the documentary’s translations of Korean.
It was hard for me to watch the pain and anger of these women, who are being interviewed as they begin to deal with what happened to their lives. There is an overwhelming sense of resentment towards American society as a whole, and some express ignorance and anger against the black people they saw as their victimizers during the riots (the directors address the racism and their choice to document it at the end). However, considering that the government and media have just demonstrated beyond doubt that they are only there to protect rich white communities, most of these women seem to sympathize with the suffering of black and poor people in their shared city, and seem to have gained a very clear analysis of institutional racism and the media’s role in it all. They have just seen the undeniable truth that, no matter how hard they work and sacrifice, they will still be expendable. What I have sensed from older generations of Koreans in LA, including my parents, is a desire to forget, because they were never given justice or any real answers, after their small, newly arrived community was burned to the ground, forced to become such a central player in the American racist legacy beyond their understanding.