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Lesson 7*: Saigu: The 1992 LA Civil Unrest


"April 29 marks the 15th anniversary of a tragic day in American history. Violence, arson and looting erupted in South Central Los Angeles, sparked by the acquittal of the four policemen who had beaten an African American, Rodney King. During the tragic days of the riot in 1992, Korean Americans suffered about half of the $850 million in property damage, not to mention the emotional and psychological pain." 


Aftermath. (Source: From the film, SA-I-GU: From Korean Women's Perspectives, Center for Asian American Media) [2022 marks 30th Anniversary of LA Civil Unrest]

*This lesson was adapted from the lesson Korean American Experiences: Interethnic Relations, by Dr. Edward Chang, Professor of Ethnic Studies and founding Director of the Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies at UC Riverside. Supplemental activities were developed by Dr. Grace Cho, Professor of Secondary Education at California State University, Fullerton. Note: Some elements of these materials also appear in Lesson 1: The Korean Diaspora and Korean Americans. The Lesson 7 Research Project was adapted from the lesson Koreans and Korean Americans in the US Economy after 1992 by John S.W. Park, Professor of Asian American Studies UC Santa Barbara.

Lesson Standards

  • History/Social Science Analysis Skills

  • History/Social Science Content Standards

  • ​Common Core Grades 6-12 Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects


​Lesson Features

  • TOPICS:  Saigu, 1992 LA Civil Unrest, LA Civil Uprising, LA Riot, Justice and Injustice


  • SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT: Causes/Effects Graphic Organizer



Lesson Overview

  • Students are introduced to 1992 LA Civil Unrest and how it impacted Korean Americans.  They reflect upon and critically analyze the responses of various individuals and groups to the unrest, examine issues of justice, and consider the legacy of Saigu for Korean Americans today. 


Lesson Activities and Assessments



  • There are three activities in this lesson. Each activity requires approximately 55 minutes and includes homework.

  • The Summative Assessment Causes/Effects Graphic Organizer will also require at least one 55 minute period.​​


Objectives and Learning Goals

  • Students will be able to explain causes and effects of the 1992 LA Civil Unrest.

  • Students will be able to identify instances of justice and injustice for different individuals and groups during the 1992 LA Civil Unrest.

  • Students will be able to define concepts in interethnic relations/studies through the lens of the "Black-Korean conflict," and identify how these concepts are contextualized within current events.

  •  Students will be able to identify examples of current racial tensions that may derive from the 1992 LA Civil Unrest.

  • Students will be able to analyze the Legacy of Saigu.

Additional Resources​​

  • Original Lesson: Korean American Experiences: Interethnic Relations


  • Advocate - a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.

  • Black-Korean Conflict - negative interactions between Korean merchants and Black consumers in urban communities. The nature of this conflict has resulted in anti-Asian sentiments and angry attitudes that have escalated the conflict to boycotts of Korean business interests, beatings due to mistaken identities, deaths of merchants and consumers and, in the case of the 1992 urban uprisings in Los Angeles, looting and burning of targeted-Korean businesses.

  • Civil Unrest - acts of violence and disorder detrimental to public law and order. 

  • Economic disparity - unequal distribution of wealth and opportunity.

  • Injustice - an unjust act or occurrence; lack of fairness or justice.

  • Justice - just behavior or treatment.

  • Marginalized people - groups or communities experiencing discrimination and exclusion within society.

  • Riot - a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd; a form of civil unrest.

  • Solidarity - a sense of unity and community based on shared or common interests, goals, ideology, or beliefs.

  • South Central Los Angeles - area in southern Los Angeles County, CA that lies within the city limits of Los Angeles, south of downtown.

  • Uprising  -the act of resistance.


Lesson 7 Presentation (PDF)

Lesson 7 Teacher's Guide (PDF)

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