LA Riots 2012

In remembrance of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, and building on its LA Riots, KAFFLA presents a special program marking the 20th anniversary. The riots or “429” (“Sa-I-gu”) a Korean nomenclature denominated for the date of the riots, is the single most devastating event for the Korean American community, and is widely considered a “rebirth” of Korean American identity and leadership. KAFFLA will present films by new voices from the Korean American community, the second generation, including those whose parents’ businesses suffered in the riots. Directors from all the films will be present for Q&A.

Disclaimer: With our LA Riots 2012 program, we will be the first to say that we are presenting imperfect viewpoints from the Korean American community. We say this not to diminish our voice for it demonstrates a rare bravery to admit our viewpoints are imperfect. When every other viewpoint we see presented continues to be deficient to explain the Korean American experience, we shall not uniquely hold ourself to an unachievable standard of perfection before we feel we can be allowed to speak. We must speak with sincerity and we must speak often so that there can exist a possibility that our speech can be engaged in an honest dialogue that allows all of us to approach a more comprehensive truth.


USA / 2012 / 10 min / Documentary 
Director: Keun Pyo “Root” Park
Writer: Carol Kwang Park
Executive Producers: Carol Kwang Park, Edward Chang 

The 1992 LA Riots profoundly changed the Korean American community. Korean Americans suffered nearly half of the $1 billion in damages that resulted from the six days of rioting and looting. Twenty years later, what has changed? What do the demographics of Los Angeles look like now? Can a riot of this magnitude happen again? This short documentary touches on what happened in 1992, what has changed in Los Angeles and if the ingredients for another riot are brewing today. 

Keun Pyo “Root” Park has a diverse background as an independent filmmaker, theater director, and actor.  Park has taught film and video production at the University of Iowa and Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.  His narrative short films have screened at venues worldwide, and he received the Eastman Kodak Scholarship Award, Best Student Narrative Award at the Austin Film Festival, Best Student Voice at Jackson Hall Film Festival, and Best Short Jury Award and 2nd Public Award at Lyon Asian Film Festival, France.

Edward Chang is Professor of Ethnic Studies and founding director of the Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies at the University of California Riverside. Chang served as Executive Producer of The LA Riots: Reflections on Our Future. Chang is also an author of four books, four edited volumes, and numerous articles. He translated the Korean book Unsung Hero: The Story of Col. Young Oak Kim and published it in English.  Chang is a prolific speaker, writer and researcher. His articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Press Enterprise and various other publications.

Carol Park is a writer and an award-winning journalist. She produced and wrote the screenplay for the documentary The LA Riots: Reflections on Our Future. Park also researches for the Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies at UC Riverside. At the Center, she edited the nonfiction English translation of Unsung Hero: The Story of Col. Young O. Kim. Park is currently working on a memoir about Korean Americans and her life growing up as a cashier in Compton.


USA / 2006 / 24 min / Documentary
Director: Alex Dongwan Ko

For over a decade, Korean American filmmaker Alex Ko has lived in a family silenced by the devastating loss of their store during the 1992 L.A. Riots. In Pok Dong, the Ko family shares their dramatic story for the first time, confronting painful memories as a means of finally moving on. Pok Dong is Korean for “riots”, and yet this film is about much more than the event itself; it is an intimate window into one immigrant family’s struggle to build a dream, persevere, and make sense out of an event that continues to haunt America to this day.

Alex Dongwan Ko was born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in Southern California. Alex is driven to create both fiction and non-fiction films. With a background in print and radio journalism, Alex’s creative vision reflects his interest in real world events and intimate portraits of people’s lives.  He hosted the award winning program RadioActive, a public affairs radio show on 90.7 FM KPFK Los Angeles, an affiliate of the progressive Pacifica network.


USA / 2012 / 81 min / Documentary
Director: David D. Kim 

Twenty years ago, the not guilty verdicts in the trial of the police officers accused of beating Rodney King sparked rampant looting, violence and arson that would claim 55 lives, leave thousands injured, and result in more than $1 billion in property damage. David D. Kim’s documentary Clash of Colors: L.A. Riots of 1992 provides a snapshot of that darkly seminal American event, filtered through the lens of an element not often discussed — the riot’s impact on the Korean-American community, whose businesses bore the brunt of more than half of that damage.

David D. Kim was serving as Vice President of the Korean Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, when the 1992 Los Angels riots erupted. He had been working closely with various community organizations as well as the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office trying to find ways to improve the relations between the African American community and the Korean American community in response to the alleged Black/Korean conflict that had been widely reported by the Los Angeles as well as national media during the years leading up to the riots.

When Koreatown was under attack by the rioters on the second day of the riots without any law enforcement support, Mr. Kim went to the Korean radio station, Radio Korea, to urge the Korean American merchants to arm and defend the businesses rather than vacate as they were being urged by the Los Angeles Police Department. He went on to bring President George Bush, Sr. to Radio Korea to meet with Korean American leaders, which meeting was broadcast live to the Korean American community. Mr. Kim hosted the meeting as MC.

Mr. Kim began the documentary project in the spring of 2003, intended initially for the Korean American audience, particularly the younger generation Korean Americans. While researching for the documentary, however, he realized that the story of the Korean immigrant experiences before, during and after the riots produced important lessons for all Americans. It took years of painstaking research, interviews, writing and editing to complete the documentary, which was his first undertaking as a filmmaker.

Mr. Kim is an attorney representing primarily multi national companies from South Korea. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Chicago (’81) and his J.D. degree from Georgetown University Law Center (’86).


USA / 1992 / 4 min / Music Video
Featuring rap group 429: Billy Chun, Regan Farquhar and Rashad West 

Out of the ashes of the 1992 civil unrest, came a rap group called 429 that was politically and socially conscious of the events surrounding the civil unrest. The group called for racial harmony amidst the tensions between African-Americans and Korean-Americans. Here was their debut single - I GOT MY MIND MADE UP.

Exclusive Preview of LAR20

USA / 2012 / ~30 min / Documentary (work-in-progress)
Director: David H. Kim
Producers: Kathy Choi, Hosik Kim

One generation since the worst urban riot in American history, a youthful spirit still motivates various characters to plot a new future for this American city of dreams.

David H. Kim graduated from Tisch School of the Arts with an MFA in Film Production. He has taken several short films around the film festival circuit including the Pusan International Film Festival. He is the founder of the Korean American Film Festival New York, which has been running annually in Manhattan since 2007 (and is now coming to LA). He is also a New York lawyer with a JD from Georgetown Law. He is currently developing the screenplay and composing music for his feature film debut.

Kathy Choi is a TV host and citizen journalist. Previously she was a business development media executive at online and cable companies including AOL, Mahalo and Altruik. She graduated from Yale University with a degree in International Relations and is passionate about public service and community empowerment.

Hosik Kim is a director, editor and is a programmer for the Korean American Film Festival New York. He moved to the United States at the age of 16 and graduated from NYU with a BA in Film & TV Production. While actively working in commercial productions, Hosik writes and directs his own projects with a keen interest in immigrant stories.