As the anniversary of the tragedy that was the L.A. Riots draw near, let’s take a look back at this poet’s perspective of the riots.
Throwback Thursday: Speak Now: A Poet’s Take on the L.A. Riots
by Ishle Park
“we are our first and last line of defense. me. you.”
~ k.w. lee
koreans mark disaster
with numbers – 4-29 – Sa-I-Gu.
no police. no help.
fire. if I touch
the screen my fingers
will singe or sing.
raw hands rip nikes
out of boxes, break glass
into white cobwebs.
my mother presses her hand
to her ruined lips.
we see grainy reels of a black
fish flopping on concrete
arched, kicked, nightsticked,
flopping not fish but black man –
here I rub my own tender
wrists, ask unanswerable questions –
why are the cops doing this?
my mother will answer simply,
wisely, because they are bad.
of the looters, because they are mad.
and why hurt us – she chokes
because we are close enough.
I moan, slip under the fold
of her. she strokes my hair
and keeps me protected
as I must one day protect her.
l.a.p.d. ring beverly hills like a moat,
won’t answer rings from south central
furious and consistent as rain.
where did they hide, our mothers –
under what oil-stained
chevy did they breathe,
light, light, covering
the biting mouths
of wet-eyed children?
their hair into riot
for a crime
they did not commit
who watched and did nothing?
mile high cameras hover,
zoom in, dub it:
war of blacks & koreans
watch us ripped
to red tendon
for scraps in the lot
show latasha shot on 50 channels,
not 200 shot korean grocers
whose names & deaths are kept local
silence white as white silence
we have no jesse
no martin no malcolm
no al, no eloquent, rapid tongue
just fathers, thick-tongued
and children, too young to carry more
than straw broomstick and hefty bag.
all the women cry
and hurl what is not already shattered.
with ashes, always grief
carried in clay jars or scattered
in wings over charred territories –
south central – metal husks
of burnt cadillacs. exxon, michelin
factories bare as cotton pockets.
this grocer with knotted tongue
stacks rows of bottles –
shining liquid copper he
beats his son. no innocents here.
this customer slops in, slurs over
an Old E, no innocents here.
her hand hurls bottle and brick
for what is lost,
for what it cannot attain,
her open, laboring palm,
and the emptiness that
leans out to meet it.
his hand grips rifle on roof,
yes, for what is lost,
for what it, too, cannot attain,
the open, laboring palm,
his broken sign, burnt oranges.
god, it is a matter of survival,
of food to mouth, of notions of home and house.
who returns with
cooks rice that steams
untouched on the kitchen table,
slips off a mother’s
devastated keds, slips her into bed?
two mornings after,
they march over ashes
dust licking proud ankles
sing in a language
most will never master:
we shall overcome. someday.
KA Among Top Finishers in ‘Let It Go’ Cover Contest
by CASSANDRA KWOK
Disney’s animated blockbuster hit, Frozen, continues to be the talk of the town as RyanSeacrest.com recently held a contest asking fans which YouTube artist they thought performed the best cover of the film’s Oscar-winning song “Let It Go,” originally sung by Idna Menzel.
More on the contest can be found here!
SKorea Imposes New Regulations on Mixed Marriages
by STEVE HAN
South Korea unveiled this month a new set of policies regulating marriages with foreigners, including requirements for the latter to pass a Korean language proficiency test and for Korean partners to have a minimum annual income of 14.8 million won ($14,000), AFP reports.
Officials backing the latest regulations, effective April 1, say such policies address the two main issues causing marital conflict among such mixed-marriage couples: communication and low income.
More stories on events and weekly updates can be on iamkoream.com!
April Issue: Advocate Says Tragic Adoption Case ‘Does Not Represent All’
by STEVE MORRISON
Many adoptees and Koreans are justifiably upset at the death of Hyunsu O’Callaghan, who was allegedly murdered by his adoptive father Brian O’Callaghan. Mr. O’Callaghan has served in the Iraq War and is an employee of the NSA overseeing the Korea Project. The tragedy for 3-year-old Hyunsu occurred only four months after his arrival to his new home. The adoptive father has been charged with first-degree murder, and the investigation continues to determine how and why this innocent little life was snuffed out. The father maintains the boy fell down and hit his head while taking a shower, but the investigation showed multiple injuries, including skull fractures at the front and back part of his head, thus raising suspicion that the death was not a mere accident as the father had claimed.
The news of this tragedy has shocked the entire Korean adoption community, and resulted in numerous protests and calls for justice in Korea. In particular, a group of adoptees and Koreans who have long been opposed to the intercountry adoption program in Korea set up memorials with banners that read, “Sorry Hyunsu, for not being able to protect you …” or “Hyunsu was adopted to the U.S. and beaten to death by his father.”
This article can be found in our April 2014 issue, but you can read it online at iamkoream.com!
April Issue: After Terrible Tragedy, This Adoptee Asks: ‘What Is a Korean Child Worth?’ (Commentary 1 of 2)
by LAURA KLUNDER
Let us take a moment of silence for Hyunsu O’Callaghan.
On Feb. 21, at the Hongdae Children’s Park in Seoul, members of KoRoot, Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea, Adoptee Solidarity Korea, Dandelions and The Korean Unwed Mothers and Families Association gathered together to remember this Korean child who was adopted to the United States last October and entrusted to the care of Brian Patrick O’Callaghan, chief of the U.S. National Security Agency Korea division. Yet, at 3 years old, Hyunsu is dead.
This article can be found in our April 2014 issue, but get the inside scoop online here! More on current events and updates can be found on iamkoream.com!
Samsung to Respond to Allegations of Lethal Chemical Exposure of Its Workers
by JAMES S. KIM
The increasing profile and growing public outrage over allegations of lethal chemical exposure of workers at Samsung Electronics Co. has prompted the company to say that it will be releasing its official response to the issue soon.
It will be Samsung’s first public statement on the deaths of dozens of its workers from leukemia and other rare cancers, which family members and activists claim was a direct result of lethal chemical exposure at its chip-making plants. Samsung’s breaking of its silence, seven years after the allegations first arose, follows a recent storm of attention in the media. An extensive report from Bloomberg Businessweek released on April 10—the same day Samsung released its flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone—told the story of Hwang Yu-mi, a woman who at age 18 went to work at a Samsung semiconductor plant in 2003 and was dead from leukemia by age 22. The article also detailed her father’s ongoing struggle to expose the truth about what happened to her and the larger movement he launched to call attention to the dangerous use of carcinogens at electronics factories.
Stay connected with this week’s latest news by subscribing to KoreAm Journal online! The rest of this story can be found here.
SKorea’s Health Insurance Body Sues Cigarette Makers
by STEVE HAN
South Korea’s national health insurance body has filed a lawsuit against cigarette makers for over $50 million for causing smoking-related diseases that ran up the health care costs, Bloomberg reported today.
National Health Insurance Service, an affiliate of South Korea’s health ministry, is suing the country’s three major tobacco companies, KT&G Corp., Philip Morris International Inc. and British American Tobacco plc, for at least 53.7 billion won ($52 million). This is the first lawsuit filed against the tobacco industry by a South Korean government agency.
The rest of this story can be found here! For weekly updates and more, find us online at iamkoream.com!
Korean Senior Alleging Race-based Attack Files Lawsuit Against McDonald’s
by JULIE HA
A Korean American senior citizen in New York has filed a $10 million dollar lawsuit against McDonald’s accusing one of its workers of racially attacking him verbally and physically, Yonhap reported today.
The 62-year-old, only identified by his last name Kim, alleges that on the afternoon of Feb. 16, a female manager at a Flushing, Queens McDonald’s hit Kim with a broom after he complained to anotherrestaurant worker that he had waited 10 minutes to purchase a cup of coffee.
Subscribe to KoreAm Journal online for weekly updates on news and events here!
Orange County Man Faces 24 Years in Prison for Bank Hostage Shootout
by JAMES S. KIM
An Irvine, Calif., man who armed himself with a sawn-off shotgun and held a bank manager hostage in 2012 has been acquitted of attempted murder, but still faces up to 24 years in prison on lesser charges, the Orange County Register reported.
Jurors last Friday found Myung Jae Kim, 56, guilty of assault with a firearm on a hostage and three police officers, possessing a destructive device with the intent to injure, and false imprisonment. The jury decided that Kim did not intentionally discharge the gun, a charge that would have added 20 years to his sentence.
Stay connected. More on this story and other recent events can be found here!
Light Sentences in Child Abuse Cases Trigger Public Outrage
by STEVE HAN
Public outcry turned rampant Friday in South Korea when the court handed out relatively light sentences to parents convicted of beating their stepchildren to death, in two separate cases, according to the Korea Times.
A 35-year-old woman, only identified by her last name Lim, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after she fatally beat her 8-year-old stepdaughter in Daegu. Her daughter died two days later in the hospital.
More on the latest weekly updates and events are found online at KoreAm Journal!
April Issue: Film Student Who Wants to Show Diverse Heroes on Big Screen Wins Trip to Oscars
by RUTH KIM
What would it feel like to hold an Oscar statuette in your hand? Or to set foot on the Academy Awards stage and be within arm’s length from the world’s most famous actors, actresses and movie-making geniuses? Just ask Korean American college student Nathan Flanagan-Frankl.
“Oh my God, there’s a little clip of a video—they showed it during the pre-show—and I’m like covering my face, and I was, like, crying on camera, but, yeah, it was really intense!” says Nathan. “I was really excited. Even now, looking back on it, I can’t really comprehend it, like, ‘What just happened?’”
This article is featured in our April 2014 issue, but you can read the rest of the article online here!
Korean American Poet Wins Walt Whitman Award
by STEVE HAN
A Korean American poet has won the Walt Whitman Award, the prestigious prize awarded by the Academy of American Poets to debut writers, the academy announced on Wednesday.
Hannah Sanghee Park will receive $5,000 in prize money as part of the award, established for writers who have never had their books of poetry published. Her debut book, The Same-Different, will be released next year by the Louisiana State University Press, and the academy will purchase thousands of copies for distribution to its members.
More on this Korean American poet can be found online at KoreAm Journal! Be sure to subscribe for the latest news updates!
SKorean Child Abuse Case Implicates Father, As Media Warned to Leave Surviving Sister Alone
by STEVE HAN
“I never abused [my stepdaughter]. I raised her with love.”
The unsettling story of a South Korean stepmother accused of fatally beating her 8-year-old stepdaughter has just gotten even more disturbing after it was revealed that the deceased’s older sister is accusing their father of also beating them on several occasions and even of videotaping the little sister dying.
The dead girl’s 12-year-old sister, only identified by her last name Kim, apparently told police that her biological father videotaped her sister dying and later showed it to Kim, allegedly as a way to frighten her from telling authorities the truth, according to the South Korean daily newspaper The Chosun Ilbo.
More on this story can be found here!
Yuna Kim Sings (Yes, Sings) Popular ‘Frozen’ Song
by JULIE HA
Anyone still bitter about South Korean skater Yuna Kim not winning gold at the Sochi Olympics under a cloud of controversy?
Then, it might be worth viewing a neat new video of Kim singing and skating to a popular song from the hit film Frozen. The video is from a newly released commercial for Samsung Consumer Electronics’ new Smart Air Conditioner Q9000.
Can you guess which song from the movie? Hint: “The cold never bothered me, anyway…”
What do you think of Yuna Kim’s “Let it Go” cover? For more updates on this week’s news and events, visit iamkoream.com!