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Post-Trauma Research Center for 1992 L.A. Riot victims coming soon

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“You are the only ones who remember that day. Let your voice be heard.”

It’s been 31 years since the 1992 Los Angeles Riot that brought devastating harm to Koreatown in Los Angeles, but documentary director Christopher HK Lee had doubts about the way the riot was portrayed on the media every year. He felt that dwelling on the pain of the past without aspirations for the future was not the way to remember that day.

“There are various books about the 1992 L.A. Riot, and there are more than 3,000 counseling resources, but they’re all just records from the past,” said Lee on April 26. “I don’t think it should end there. If there are no solutions to the problem, this situation will repeat itself again.”

Lee came up with the idea with psychiatrist Man Chul Cho and writer Paul Lee to establish a post-trauma research center in the Korean American community.

Dr. Cho was one of five psychiatrists who counseled more than 500 victims of the riot, and Mr. Lee served as an interpreter during the case of Soon Ja Du, which sparked the riots.

The Post-Trauma Research Center aims to counsel victims of various disasters in the Korean American community and to collaborate with experts to continue prevention and treatment programs through social, criminological, and psychological research.

“There are experts who believe that the L.A. riot were foreshadowed by the Watts Riot in 1965,” says Lee. “We shouldn’t just blame others and focus on getting compensated. If we don’t put in the work to prevent future disasters, history will repeat itself. For the future of our children, the victims of the 1992 L.A. Riot must speak up.”

He added, “The most helpful way to heal trauma is to talk about it. There is a lot of power in sharing. Even if it’s not about you; whether it’s about parents. Feel free to share them.”

The group plans to publish a book and a documentary film around the victims’ stories. “We expect a documentary film to be released around 2024,” Lee said.

To report a story about your experience of the 1992 L.A. Riot, you can contact Dr. Man Chul Cho at 310-713-8382 or Christopher Lee at 213-925-3003.

ABC7 News on April 25 reported on the story of S&H Liquor Store in Inglewood, owned by a Korean-American couple, who survived the riot. The owners, Song Ho Seo and Kyong Ok, refused to give up on the store and have been running it for more than 30 years.

To commemorate the the 31st anniversary of the riot, Local leaders and organization advocated to create a mural of Kyong Ok, Song Ho Seo, and his long time black employee, Richard Hicks, as a symbol of friendship and unity.

The owners’ son, Paul Seo, is a Deputy Attorney General for the California Department of Justice and a  councilmember in Rancho Palos Verdes.

“They were never resentful. My father and mother understood why things happened in 1992. So they never blamed anybody,” he said. “Now we have the power to be able to tell the story. Not only of what happened then, but in terms of all the stuff that happened now and the fruit of it.”

Jang Jang-ah jang.suah@koreadaily.com