Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sa-I-Gu

I find it interesting that this film limits its perspective to that of Korean women, isolating its story from the bigger story of the L.A. riot. I do understand that the film essays to "give voice to the voiceless," but at the same time I feel like it is isolating Koreans from the rest of the conflict and portraying them as innocent bystanders who got caught in the maelstrom of black-white racial conflict. I'm sure many of them are innocent victims, but I find it hard to believe that all of them are. 

An interesting way to look at the L.A. riot is to say that this was the first time that Korean Americans as a whole community got in touch with the bigger society. As one woman says in the movie, at first the Rodney King incident seemed like it did not matter to Koreans, and only when protesters began attacking Korean-owned shops they realized that it was their problem too. It is not too harsh to say that most Koreans (unlike the man in the movie playing Santa Claus with local black children) were uninvolved with the larger American society for the most part. Most lived in enclaves speaking Korean, reading Koran newspapers and interacting with mostly with other Koreans. The majority of interactions between Koreans and blacks took place at the stores, where animosity began growing. I feel like the stores in predominantly black neighborhoods were especially heavily targeted because their residents resented the fact that Koreans made money in black neighborhoods and lived in a Korean neighborhood. 

I have mixed feelings about the movie: while I do sympathize with those women who lost their business and family (for they worked so hard to realize the American dream), the fact that most Koreans in the movie do not try to understand why the rioters attacked their stores bothers me a bit. 

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