East to Amer -Op/31

Elaine H. Kim, Author, Eiu Y. Yu, Author, Eui Young Yu, With
Elaine H. Kim, Author, Eiu Y. Yu, Author, Eui Young Yu, With New Press $25 (0p) ISBN 978-1-56584-297-7
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
Paperback - 386 pages - 978-1-56584-399-8
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During the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Koreatown was the target of burning and looting by many blacks whose resentment exploded against Korean shopkeepers; blacks charged that the Koreans exploited them, treated them badly and flaunted their superiority. Kim and Yu, both Korean Americans who teach at California colleges, set out to reform these images of their people in some 50 engrossing interviews with a cross section of the Korean American community. These movingly reveal a culture and history of people victimized both in their native land and in the U.S. Most were brought here as children in the 1970s after the Korean War by parents fiercely determined to make a better life; others are American-born. All display a strong sense of filial duty and respect for education, hard work and success; most feel a sense of commonality with blacks but confess that their culturally imprinted emotional reserve invites misinterpretation. While race relations are not the only focus of these interviews, they are a prominent concern. A Korean American police officer present during the riots observes that Korean Americans did not realize the magnitude of black hostility toward them. But he also says that a sense of victimization does no one any good: ""So what if you`re a victim,"" he says coolly. ""Get in line, there are 10,000 victims ahead of you."" (Mar.)
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