Lesson 7: Saigu: The 1992 LA Civil Unrest 
Activity 7.2: Experiences of Korean Americans during the 1992 LA Civil Unrest

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​Using interviews of Korean Americans who were part of the 1992 LA Riots, students explore the impact of the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest by analyzing interviews of individuals who were part of it. 

Korean American Story. (Source: Logo of KoreanAmericanStory.com) 

The Legacy Project is an oral history project of KoreanAmericanStory.org. The concept of the Legacy Project is to provide the Korean American community an easy turnkey process to capture the stories of individuals and families through video recordings.

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Activity Questions

  • How were Korean Americans (both those who lived during the event and those who have been born since) impacted by the 1992 civil unrest?

  • What are similarities and differences between these experiences?

  • What did they see as some of the causes of the 1992 Civil Unrest? 

  • What impact was felt in the Korean American Community? 

  • What impacts were felt by other groups (i.e., LAPD, African American population, Latino/Hispanic population, etc.)?


Instructional Strategies

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

Consider Women's Perspectives

  • Have students share thoughts about what it would be like to have been part of the 1992 LA Civil Unrest? They might first share in small groups or as a class. 

  • Show the video, Sa-I-Gu: From Korean Women's Perspectives, which is available for purchase from CAAM and is also on YouTube from KAFFNY.

  • After viewing, ask students to share new insights on what it was like for these women. Let them know that there is a special project (called the Legacy Project, part of KoreanAmericanStory.com) devoted to archiving the perspectives of Korean Americans who were part of the 1992 Civil Unrest (along other historical events) and that they are going to analyze several of these perspectives. 

Before the Video

During the Video

  • Distribute the "Legacy Project Video Activity Worksheet" and have students complete the column for the interview you show to the whole class. 

  • Show the video, SalGu LA Riots - Hyepin Im, or an alternative video(s) selected from the Legacy Project. 

After Viewing

  •  Have students use their devices to select a second interview to view and complete the second column.

  • Invite students to share their analysis with a peer, small group, or whole class to identify similarities and differences between interviewee experiences and ideas.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY:

  • Let students know that there are memoirs published by Korean Americans who were part of the Civil Unrest.  Assign students the reading of "Chapter 6: Los Angeles on Fire," from Memoir of a Cashier: Korean Americans, Racism, and Riots, by Carol Park.

  • Have the compose a Quickwrites to the following question: How was Carole Park and her family impacted by the 1992 civil unrest?

  • Have students share their responses in small groups and/or ask for some to share their response with the class.

Closing Activity

  • End class with review and discussion of the activity questions and how the films, interviews, and stories reshaped or reinforced their answers.


Resources

Worksheet on Legacy Project Activity: Impact of 1992 Civil Unrest (PDF)

YouTube Video: Sa-I-Gu (41 minutes)

Sa-I-Gu, literally April 29, presents this Los Angeles crisis from the perspectives of Korean women shopkeepers and offers an alternative to mainstream media’s inability or refusal to present the voices of victims in human terms but make them issues and numbers. Sa-I-Gu provides a perspective that is essential to discussions on the Los Angeles unrest that brought numerous social issues to the forefront — racism, class divisions, crime, violence, poverty, the urban underclass and political, economic and cultural empowerment.