The name “Koreatown” is used to designate a large area that includes the neighborhoods of Wilshire Center, Harvard Heights and Pico Heights. The Korean-American community in Los Angeles – the largest outside of Korea – refers to the 1992 riots as “Sa-I-Gu” which literally means “4-2-9”, April 29, the first day the riots.
Koreatown experienced the hardest crime and destruction of the ordeal. Hundreds of Korean owned businesses were looted, damaged or burnt down and an unknown number of Koreans physically attacked. The Korean community, seeing the police force’s abandonment of Koreatown, organized armed groups to protect businesses and area residents. Open gun battles were televised live as shopkeepers defended their business from the crowds of violent looters. According to a survey conducted eleven months after the riots, almost 40% of Korean Americans said they were thinking of leaving Los Angeles.
20 years later, Koreatown has resurreced from its ashes. It is today a vibrant transnational enclave and the standing proof that Los Angeles is much more than just black and white.