This article was published in Studies of Koreans Abroad, a major journal focusing on overseas Korean experiences in Korea (Volume 27, June 2012, pp.178-211). Through an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding), the Association for Studies of Koreans Abroad, the professional association in Korea that publishes the journal, has given the Research Center for Korean Community permission to post articles published in the journal on Korean American Data Bank. We have selected this article because it is likely to be interesting to many subscribers of our Data Bank. Since the English-language abstract is included at the end of the journal article, we give a short introduction to the article here. This article focuses on Koreatown established in New Malden in London. This article is based on preliminary research conducted by the author in May 2011, and some written documents, including newspaper articles. The New Malden Koreatown, which is the only established Koreatown in Europe, was formed in the 1990s. The author examined the development of the Korean enclave by dividing it into four periods: (1) explosive enlargement (1989-1997), (2) difficult time (1997-2002), (3) reformed community (2002-2007), and (4) stagnation (2007-2011). The author says that the majority of Korean residents in Koreatown were short-term temporary Korean residents, such as businessmen, students, and job-seekers. After two economic downturns, Koreatown in the 2010s has become a multiethnic neighborhood, inhabited not only by temporary Korean residents, but also Southeast Asians, some non-Korean British people who like Korean culture, Korean-Chinese, North Korean residents, and second-generation Koreans.

Historically, Koreans have suffered a great deal of internal conflicts, mostly in the form of power struggles, while they showed a high level of solidarity reacting to external threats. Korean immigrants in the U.S. have gone through similar internal conflicts, combined with intensive solidarity when encountering external threats. Korean immigrants’ business-related conflicts with Black customers, White suppliers, Latino employees, White landlords, and government agencies have all enhanced their ethnic solidarity. However, among all the types of business-related conflicts with outside groups, Korean immigrants’ community-wide solidarity was enhanced the most by Black boycotts of Korean stores and the victimization of many Korean merchants during the 1990s riots. This chapter from Pyong Gap Min’s book Caught in the Middle: Korean Communities in New York and Los Angeles examines in detail how major Black boycotts of Korean stores in New York City and the victimization of many Korean merchants during the 1990s Los Angeles riots have enhanced Koreans’ ethnic solidarity and political consciousness. Memories of minority groups’ major historical sufferings, such as the Holocaust and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, have long become symbols of ethnic identity over generations. The victimization of many innocent Korean merchants during the Los Angeles riots is the most severe historical suffering Korean immigrants in the U.S. have ever experienced. As such, it will serve as an important historical event in the Korean community that will help second-, third- and higher-generation Korean Americans to preserve their ethnic identity.  Reading this chapter on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Sa-I-Gu, when Korean Americans are struggling for community empowerment, will be meaningful.

 

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