Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I found Sai-I-Gu to be quite provocative. Although I have lived in Los Angeles most of my life, this documentary exposed a dimension to social structures in Los Angeles that I was unaware of.

Thinking of home, I clearly remember the racial tensions driving through different parts of Los Angeles. The areas in which different groups built their community paralleled the social issues. The primarily African-American and Latino communities are situated farther east and south of the Chinese and Korean areas. To the west is Beverly Hills, which is predominantly white. Thus, the physical space that Asians occupy within Los Angeles is similar to the social positions of Asians – as buffers between Whites and Blacks and Latinos. However, I feel that the settlement patterns were not intended to do so. The Asian communities were initially set up in a location that is less costly and less populated. The communities served as outlets for resources and networking for new immigrants into the states. In the years following the riots, the Asian population became less centered in downtown and more in Orange County.

The role of men in the film is interesting. I don’t often see Asian women as the focus of films. It makes me curious whether the men were reluctant to speak to a female filmmaker or these women had larger roles in the family business than their husbands? This effect leads me to feel a great sense of comrade amongst the Korean females. This strong relationship between the women could be a result of the settlement pattern, Koreans develop a strong community to allow the navigation of Los Angeles. It is remarkable to establish such strong connections between community members, but inter-community relationships are also important. However, it is difficult to build inter-community connections because social structures confine people to their own class and ethnicity.

All in all, I enjoyed the film and learned a lot about Asian-American history in Los Angeles. It is amazing to see the drastic relocations of Asians in Los Angeles. I am still uncertain whether Asians began to move out of downtown because space was limited or race/ethnic tension? Before this film, I was embarrassed to know so little about Asians at home. I think I appreciate the city more now because of this film.

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