Tag Archives: Korean American

Sa-I-Gu (Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, 1993)

Country of Origin:
Running Time: 36 min

Format: Color, DVD (NTSC)

Distributor: Center for Asian American Media

Sa-I-Gu, literally translated in Korean as April 29 is the day of the 1992 Los Angeles riot following the trial of Rodney King. Three months after Sa-I-Gu, the documentary explores the experience of the Korean American women who was “caught” in the LA crisis. The documentary tells the story of the mother of Edward Jae Song Lee, the only Korean who died during the riot, along with interviews of Korean American women. These accounts portray the financial, psychological, and personal losses of the community, and their American dreams turned upside down.

Women express their mistrust, frustration, confusion, and disappointment towards African-Americans and the U.S. government in the aftermath of Sa-I-Gu. The documentary attend to what Korean women interpret as the cause of Sa-I-Gu: the media’s biased focus on Black and Korean conflict, gap between the rich and the poor, and the failure of the LA police and the government to react. The documentary also portrays how these women are coping with the lingering battle against the government for compensation, providing a ground for a reexamination of the real content of the American dream.

The documentary fills in a void in the media coverage that neglected to present an accurate representation of the experience of the Korean community. Dai Sil Kim-Gibson says that they produced the documentary “to give voice to the voiceless victims i.e. Korean American shopkeepers and shop owners who lost everything during the Los Angeles upheaval.” By portraying their experience in human terms with great honesty, the documentary provides a more complete picture of the LA crisis.

The documentary was showcased as P.O.V series on National PBS Broadcast at the time of its release. It received the Bronze Plaque Award at the Columbus International Film and Video Festival as well as the Bronze Award at the Houston International Film Festival and the Rosebud Award from Washington, DC.

Descriptors: Korean American, race relations, Los Angeles Riot, Immigration

For further information:

On the Film:

On the L.A. Riot and its impact on Korean American:

  • Abelmann, Nancy. Lie, John. Blue Dreams: Korean Americans and the Los Angeles Riots. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1997

On the Director: