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Lesson 7: Saigu: The 1992 LA Civil Unrest
Activity 7.1: A Cry for Justice


Students create a timeline of events associated with Saigu, the 1992 LA Civil Unrest.  They define ​terms related to the event, including civil unrest, riot, uprising, justice, injustice, advocate.  They analyze differences between justice and injustice as it relates to race and poverty in America.

A historic photograph of Korean Americans keeping watch over a store during the LA Riots of 1992. (Source: LA Times)​


Activity Questions

  • What events occurred during the 1992 L.A. Civil Unrest?  

  • Who was involved in the unrest and what were their roles?

  • What were some outcomes of the unrest?

  • How does civil unrest affect communities who have limited access to financial or social support?

  • How has this incident shaped issues of justice and injustice for Korean Americans?

Instructional Strategies

  • To support this lesson, use the Lesson 7 Teacher's Guide and  Lesson 7 Presentation under Lesson 7.

Definitions Brainstorm

  • Begin this lesson by having students brainstorm definitions for the  following terms: civil unrest, riot, uprising, justice, injustice, advocate

Introduction to Saigu

  • Use the lecture presentation to introduce what happened during Saigu.

Timeline Activity Internet Activity

  • Either individually, pairs, or trios (using student devices) or as a class (via teacher device), have students complete the Saigu Map and Timeline Activity using the interactive map at K'TOWN 92 MAP.  

Reflecting on Justice versus Injustice 

  • Show the Youtube video, 1992 LA Riots, Mojo's Top 5 Facts (6:58 min).  As students watch, have them note examples of justice and injustice (and to whom and from whom) presented in the video on the T-Chart: Justice.

  • Individually, in pairs, or small groups, have students complete a Think-Pair-Share: What is the difference between justice and injustice? What examples of injustice did you see in the story of Saigu?  Who benefits from injustice? Who benefits from justice? How might advocates impact injustice?

Closing the Activity

  • Show the Vimeo video, April's Way: a 1992 LA Riots Short Film (8:14 minutes) (based on a true story).  

  • End class with review and discussion of the activity questions and how the April's Way film reshaped or reinforced their answers.


Worksheet: Saigu Timeline of Events (PDF)

Worksheet: T-Chart Justice (PDF)

YouTube Video: LA Riots: MoJo's Top 5 Facts (6:57 minutes)

1992 LA Riots, Mojo's Top 5 Facts - Often referred to as the Los Angeles uprising, the LA riots of 1992 represented a brief hiatus from civility, and the rule of law.  This summary of the event provides multiple perspectives on the event. 

Vimeo Video: April's Way (8:57 minutes)

April's Way - After the controversial verdict of the Rodney King trial, people were forced to take up arms to defend themselves and their families against the civil unrest and violence that was exploding onto the streets of Los Angeles in April of 1992. When faced with rampant looting, a Korean storeowner toils between protecting his wife and young daughter or taking a stand against the rioters who threaten to destroy his business. Amidst the multicultural collisions, April’s Way follows Sung-Min as he struggles to navigate racial and moral boundaries and ultimately uncovers the humanity within us all.

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