okay, so i tried really hard to write an unbiased account/review of watching sa-i-gu, but my family lived the LA riots right in the middle of koreatown when this happened, and i just can't watch this film without ...i dont know, without getting angry... hehe ^^;; sorry i'll calm down.
but, no, seriously. i was 5 years old at the time and this was a huge deal, clearly. the documentary, i believe, was too easy on the whole ordeal. i've heard so many stories from so many adults who lived in koreatown at the time.
a couple things i wished the film would focus more on was explicating the racial relationships at the time, and looking at the overall social problems that caused the riots. i'm really appreciative of the individual interviews and i think they did a good job at showing the effects that the riots had on the korean community, but i think the film did not make the big impact it could've because the point of view was so narrow.
the part about the "sacrificial lamb" interested me the most, like many other posters, because this is exactly what all koreans say and believe post-riots.
geographically, los angeles is very spread out, with thick populations of racial/ethnic groups juxtaposed right next to each other, except that when you look closely, there is never a white neighborhood right next to a black one. koreatown happens to be closer the south central/inglewood where most of the rodney king protestors came from, and therefore served as a buffer region to the rich white residential areas of hancock park, beverly hills, westwood, and beyond.
the riots lasted 6 days. in the history of american riots especially involving race, even during the 60s (civil rights movement etc) when a riot like this was happening, there were times when the president would send in the national guard to prevent the attacks from continuing further on. now i'm not saying that mr. bush sr. is to blame for everything for not sending in the us marines to stop all the looting and burning, but the film, in my opinion, did not emphasize enough the lack of action on part of the police and higher enforcement authorities when it came to stopping the riots and protecting businesses in koreatown, etc.
koreans believe that the police did nothing because they were the sacrificial lambs, just like the lady in the film said. when i asked korean adults about the black-korean conflict, they said no-- this was a black-white conflict where koreans were caught in between and incurred most of the damage. the police/authorities could have stopped a lot of the violence from happening, but using 'my-safety-first' as an excuse, they let the protestors/los angelenos who have been suffering from the economic/racial crisis in the past decade let out all their frustration on the nearby korean business community.
okay, so i'm getting really worked up again, and me posting this stuff doesnt mean it's the exact truth, but people are not stupid, and the korean community knew that there was something wrong with the duration of the riots, and how they received practically no help in protecting themselves, to the point where the local gunshop owner was giving out guns for free and pest control exterminators were voluntarily spraying toxins in shops to keep looters out.
most korean american community who suffered most of the attacks were permanently traumatized by this experience, albeit on different levels. some people lost their entire life savings and means of survival, and some people just came to the cold hard realization that america did not care for this immigrant group with so noncitizens and illegal immigrants.
on the 10th anniversary of the LA riots, Bush Jr. visited the African American community to apologize, to reminisce, to acknowledge the woes of the time in that community and to celebrate the improving relations/economy in those areas. he did not even make a phonecall to the koreans.
i want to stop talking here because its difficult not to just keep rambling but about the film again, i really wish it would have taken the interviews to the next level to see the point of view of the black and mexican american communities and also do more research on why it had to be the koreans that were targetted. i know some women in the film said that koreans were targetted because of the koreans' curt and rude attitudes towards their african american customers, but honestly this hasnt changed that much today. this was not the root of the riots--it was just because the media portrayed it as a black-korean conflict.
i am not saying that there was no black korean conflict, there was, there is, as long as our cultures are so different and there is a language barrier there always be a little amount of conflict no matter was ethnicities cross. this is where 'popular culture' comes in a theme because so much of popular culture did present the riots as a gun-toting-korean versus tv-stealing-black-looter problem. it would be interesting if we can examine the aftereffects in popular media regarding the interracial conflict of the la riots, ie. ice cube's black korea and the korean community's boycott of his products afterwards.
thank you and sorry if you read through all of that. ^^;;; just saying, because somebody's gotta remember.