On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, Professor Edward J. W. Park of Loyola Marymount University in L.A. gave a talk titled "Divergent Paths: Korean American Politics in an Age of Globalization" at KCS. This event was part of RCKC's ongoing seminar series. KCS is located at 35-56 159th Street, Flushing, NY 11358. Approximately 20 people attended this event.
In the 1980s, Korean American political attention shifted away from democratization in South Korea to urban politics in large American cities. From New York, to Chicago, to Los Angeles, Korean Americans struggled with their middlemen minority position as merchants in inner-cities, situated between indifferent white power structure and hostile African American activists. Punctuated by the Los Angeles Civil Unrest of 1992, Korean Americans committed unprecedented attention and resources to increase their political visibility and influence in American cities. By 2015, this effort to claim their rightful place in mainstream American politics resulted in modest success measured in electoral victories and significant appointments. However, this familiar pattern of American ethnic political incorporation has been complicated by dramatic changes in laws and policies by the Korean and the U.S. governments. From the Overseas Korean Act of 1999 to the ratification of the Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement in 2012, transpacific politics are once again pulling Korean American attention and resources as these changes redefine the terms and conditions of being Korean American in a globalizing world. Korean Americans have vigorously pursued their interests on this front, seeking to maximize their professional opportunities as bilateral trade and relationships grow while minimizing the personal disruptions of pursuing transpacific lives. Once again, Korean American politics stand at the crossroads.
Edward J.W. Park is director and professor of Asian Pacific American Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His publications include “Competing Visions: Political Formation of Korean Americans in Los Angeles” (Amerasia Journal, 1988) and “Labor Organizing Beyond Race and Nation: The Los Angeles Hilton Case” (International Journal of Sociology and Social Research, 2004).
Click the link below to access an article that Professor Park wrote reflecting on Korean Americans in L.A. after the 1992 Uprising:
From an Ethnic Island to a Transnational Bubble