It's over! Some thoughts on going forward...

Whenever we plan a large event at KCCD, there's always a tendency to feel somewhat listless the day after the event. We've spent so many countless hours planning, organizing logistics and having meetings, that suddenly not having a specific objective to focus on typically requires a little bit of transition time.

Strangely, this hasn't been the case for us after SAIGU.  We had our event on Sunday, to great success and acclaim. But even though we were all physically exhausted the next day, we were all immediately ready to continue carrying out the spirit of the work we've put into the campaign.

The fact that so many people, from so many different socio-economic backgrounds, were willing to join with us to reflect on the root causes of the LA Riots, and the changes which have taken place in our community over the past twenty years, shows the progress that our community has made.

We look forward to continue working with you in the future!


New media!

Over the past couple of days, our founder and CEO, Hyepin Im, has been busy interviewing with various media outlets to discuss our 04/29 event. Check out some of the links below:

KFI AM 640 interviews Hyepin: (Podcast download)

SBS Evening News coverage:

We can't wait to see all of you tomorrow!

Media coverage of 4-29

With the 20th Anniversary of the LA Riots fast approaching, we wanted to take a moment to share some of the media coverage of both our event, and other noteworthy riot-related stories. Coverage of our commemorative service/SAIGU Campaign efforts:

"LA Riots: Koreatown Earns its Place in City History"

"The LA Riots 20 Years Later"

"Hyepin Im Reflects on the Korean-American Community 20 Years after the Riots"

Other media coverage:

"Three Calm Voices of the LA Riots"

"See a Map of the Korean Voices Targeted by the LA Riots 20 Years ago"

"SAIGU, on April 29, is a landmark date for many of LA's Korean-Americans"

"Unborn baby shot in L.A. Riots: 'I'm still here'"

Updates from the SAIGU campaign - or why being busy is good!

It's been awhile since we've updated the blog. Apologies about that - it just means that we've been so busy planning our 04/29 Commemorative Service, we simply haven't had the time to sit down and write!

There's now less than a week to go into our big event, and we have plenty of exciting things to share with you.

First up - we're pleased to announce that Edward James Olmos is going to be one of the recipients of our SAIGU Heroes of Hope Award.

Not only has Mr. Olmos entertained us on both big screen and small, but he's also been an active member of the community. Debra Deanne Olson, from had this to say about Mr. Olmos:

"I remember the times like it was yesterday. The riots were escalating, and he was asking for all the TV shows at once, Channel 2, 4, 7, 9 etc. He said, “I am bringing my broom down to clean up the streets,” and he suggested everyone that wanted to help should join him at 6:30 am the next day to clean up the mess. Basically, he changed the violent and out of control energy of the riots."

We also have the singer Ann Weldon performing for us, a wonderfully talented performer who has been described as "The tall cinnamon skinned girl has a voice like velvet-soft rich and shimmering. Her tunes are chosen with care and treated with respect. She has dazzled audiences worldwide: Australia, Hawaii, Japan, Germany, Amsterdam, Paris, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco".


These are just some of the guests and events that we're working to make happen. We're going to try and update this blog throughout the week, and we hope you'll join us on 04/29!

Updates from the SAIGU press conference - April 12th

On April 12th, selected members of the SAIGU Campaign committee held a press conference to discuss the campaign.

Ms. Hyepin Im (KCCD Founder and CEO), Reverend Young Ik Byun - President of Council of Korean Churches in Southern California, and Reverend Jong Dai Park - Co-Chair of KCCD, sat down with reporters to discuss both previous and upcoming SAIGU events.

Special focus was given to the Days of Dialogue on April 27th, artist Maggie Hazen's event on April 30th, and our cornerstone event on April 29th.

All of those present spoke eloquently about how they believed that these events were helping bring the community closer together, but also believed that there is more work to be done.

For further questions or to RSVP for our upcoming events, please check the appropriate tabs o this site.

SAIGU: Economic Bus Tour (3/24/12)

(Bus Tour Attendees stand in front of the Rose Garden on USC's campus, the final destination of the tour)

On Saturday, March 24th, the SAIGU Campaign hosted an economic redevelopment bus tour in partnership with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Empowerment Congress! Key community, faith, government leaders and the media revisited the flash points of the LA Riots as well as key locations in South LA as well as Koreatown and reflected upon the successes since the riots as well as what further work needs to be done to build a stronger city.

View photos from the Economic Bus Tour!


To view the photos individually please click here.



KCCD and The SAIGU Campaign (Serve, Advocate, Inspire, Give and Unite) is now accepting nominations for the SAIGU Heroes of Hope Award, which will recognize individuals whose accomplishments and contributions have led to a greater appreciation for the strength and diversity of Los Angeles especially around race relations.

The nominee should exemplify Los Angeles' best -- a person that has achieved great heights by bringing diverse groups together through social innovation,business, government, the arts, sports, service, entertainment or pop culture during the riots and thereafter.

The SAIGU Campaign will recognize SAIGU Heroes of Hope Award recipients during the SAIGU 20th anniversary commemorative service at Glory Church (formerly Grand Olympic Auditorium) on April 29, 2012 starting at 3:30pm. To submit a nomination, please write 600 words or less on how the nominee represents the spirit of Los Angeles and how their accomplishments have brought Los Angeles' diverse communities together.

Please submit nominations online: by 11:59 pm on April 13, 2012. Finalists must be able to attend the commemoration service. Special thanks to California Forward and New America media for their partnership.

SAIGU prayer breakfast, A Success!

Unity Prayer Breakfast- A Success!  

On February 27th, 2011, KCCD and the SAIGU Campaign hosted a successful Unity Prayer Breakfast consisting of faith leaders from African-American, Korean-American, Latino and other communities for the purpose of promoting unity and understanding.

The morning progressed with faith leaders speaking  of their own experiences with the LA riots, the ways they have been striving to bring God's transformation to the city, and the need for unity. In addition, they drew inspiration and hope from the story of Nehemiah, a biblical model for urban restoration. We would like to thank everyone who came out to support the campaign. Special thanks to World Impact for providing the venue, and Newsong LA for sponsoring the breakfast.

If you are a faith organization that would like to partner with our campaign as well as receive priority seating, please  sign up under Partnerships!

Reflections on the Economic Bus Tour

On March 24th 2012, a group of community and faith leaders gathered at LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’s office in Exposition Park, for a bus tour of key areas which were impacted by the 1992 LA riots.

The tour began with a breakfast supplied by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’s office, and attended by LA City Controller Wendy Greuel.

City Controller Greuel had the opportunity to address the crowd, as did KCCD founder and Ceo Ms. Hyepin Im.

Once introductions were out of the way, attendees were asked to stand up and introduce themselves, while giving a brief overview of their personal experiences with the period unrest and the aftermath.

This was a perfect opportunity for all attendees to understand each other’s backgrounds, and any shared experiences they might have. After we all became relatively more acquainted, we set off!

Now, a word on the locations selected for the tour:

The locations for the trip were largely selected on the basis of their significance to key moments in the riots.

In example, the bus stopped at Florence and Normandie. This is commonly referred to as the starting point for the riots, because it was here that the Reginald Denny incident took place.

However, not all locations were selected just for the role they played in the riots. Some were also selected for the developments which had taken place in the last two decades.

Both the bus stops at Leimart Park and the MaDang Courtyard reminded us that there were wonderful examples in the city of how the community recouped after the unrest, and created something amazing. Much like the mythical phoenix rising out of the flames, LA has arisen again in these areas.

At Leimart Park, we had the opportunity to listen to Joyce Perkins speak. She gave an eloquent talk detailing on watching the Leimart Park area burn, and how the sight moved her to tears. However, she was inspired to help the rebuilding process, and has helped create a successful community center which serves hundreds of community members.

At MaDang Courtyard, we were shown the development projects which have occurred in the region. One of the most interesting exchanges came during a visit to CGB, when the producer of the film Clash of Colors and other community members held an impromptu discussion on how to join different ethnic communities.

There was so much that everyone saw and experienced on the tour. But the general consensus seems to remain that while LA has both healed and done great things in the last two decades, there is still more which can be done. It’s up to each and every one of us, to help make sure this takes part.

We here at the SAIGU campaign are extremely humbled by everything we witnessed on Saturday, and look forward to the upcoming events for more community dialogue and reflection.


[youtube] Written by SAIGU UCLA Intern, Grace Cho

After weeks of preparation, the SAIGU Campaign's Prayer Breakfast took place this past Monday February 27, 2012. The event was held at World Impact’s Teen Center in South LA, and brought together African-American and Korean-American faith leaders, as well as other groups from the Greater Los Angeles area to establish a foundation for racial reconciliation through prayer.

Hyepin Im, the founder and CEO of Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD) and SAIGU campaign director, introduced the morning by acknowledging that the “prayer and leadership [of those present] will make a tremendous impact for each of our communities and for this city.”

The morning progressed with faith leaders speaking off of their own experiences with the LA riots, the ways they have been striving to bring God’s transformation to the city, and the need for unity between African-American and Korean-American leaders. In addition, they taught from the story of Nehemiah, a biblical model for urban restoration.

Perhaps the most striking things about the morning were the diversity and the shared passions of the leaders present. Communication across language and cultural barriers took place through interpretation in Korean and English. Pastors, reverends, intellectuals, community organizers, and volunteers of all ages and of various denominational and ethnic backgrounds communicated their desire to unite discrete church bodies to transform this long-standing conflict for a larger mission of unity. Nods of assent and verbal encouragement were made throughout the morning from the diverse gathering.

Several speakers highlighted the need for churches to be engaged in the day-to-day as well as the punctuated needs of the city. Reverend Mark Whitlock of Christ Our Redeemer Church in Orange County challenged the leaders to be more present and active in their communities: “Civic engagement is really when we challenge Pharaoh to ‘Let my people go.’ That’s the stuff of Cesar Chavez; that’s the stuff of Martin Luther King Jr.”

Reverend Michael Mata highlighted the need for more impetus in organizing and mobilizing churches to do work in and between communities: “Twenty years later, we know that much has been accomplished, but the road to equity and justice is incomplete. And I stand here with Dr. Cornel West, a prisoner of hope, because I am still part of that journey.”

The next prayer breakfast will take place on March 26th. To attend the breakfast, please fill out the RSVP form under the "breakfasts" tab.

Local Artist To Create LA Riots Memorial

by Jessica Yoon

Local artist Maggie Hazen has undertaken a project to create an art memorial in honor of the 20th anniversary of the LA Riots.

The memorial, commissioned by Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD) and the SAIGU campaign, will be a modular installation consisting of approximately 6,000 miniature and individually crafted plaster vessels filled with basic food ingredients, which will represent the occupation and unification of the Los Angeles community.

“I just want to bring something beautiful to something that’s been destroyed,” Hazen told in a phone interview. “I think it will speak to the community in terms of the picture of harmony and unity. That’s what I really want people to look out for.”

The 22-year-old recent graduate of Biola University said the program’s manager, Bonnie Kim, was familiar with her previous work and approached her to do the memorial. Hazen said she realized her work was all about mapping geographical regions of human conflict.

“The motivation is kind of what is the essence of a human being and what is our shared point of common interest?” Hazen said. “I realized that it was food, and so I’m using flour, rice, and cornmeal as three main food staples that kind of represent a wide brush stroke of ethnic diversity and something that we share in common.”

The memorial will also invite the direct involvement of the community by having a select group of 25 to 30 representatives who were directly affected by the riots to take part in creating the installation. The entire process will also be filmed and made into a short documentary featuring the stories of the representatives and the building process of the project.

The memorial placement will be part of a three-day event leading up to the Art Show opening on April 28, 2012 and the L.A. Riots commemorative service on April 29, 2012.

“I’m really just looking forward to seeing the community’s reaction and how they see the piece and I really want to hear what people are saying,” said Hazen. “I’m looking forward to different cultures to shake hands and come to some conclusions and some peace

(Originally published on

Visit Hazen’s KickStarter page if you are interested in donating to this important project. For more info on the artist, go to

Press Conference: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Speaker John Perez, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas Join as Committee Co-Chairs!

LOS ANGELES - November 3, 2011 - Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD) and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, along with more than 50 multi-ethnic civic and community leaders from across the state announced the launch of the 4*29 SAIGU Committee to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. Key members of the committee spoke about building progressive programs and initiatives based on lessons from the riots and working towards unifying the ethnically rich Los Angeles communities to rebuild the American dream.


"Twenty years ago, police brutality, economic injustice and a deep sense of civic alienation came to a head in a civil unrest," said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. "As co-chair of the 4*29 SAIGU Committee, I am honored to partner with community leaders who worked tirelessly to heal and renew the city we all love. Today, as we reflect on and remember those difficult days, we also reaffirm our commitment to unity."

The 4*29 SAIGU Committee's vision is to revisit and learn from a tragic chapter in the city's history, which was reflective of the racial, economic and political disparities of the time. The Los Angeles Riots resulted in 53 deaths, 3,600 fires, 1,100 destroyed buildings, 2,000 damaged businesses and property damages totaling $1 billion, of which 50 percent was incurred by Korean Americans.

"As we approach the 20 year anniversary of the L.A. riots, we can accept now once and for all that the Korean people of Los Angeles were victims, too. The SAIGU campaign is helping to heal the open wounds of 1992, and make our city stronger in the process. Twenty years later, it is clear that the Korean community is part-and-parcel of the L.A. riots, yet their story has not been told. The SAIGU campaign helps change and heal wounds that have persisted since 1992. That's good for the Korean community, and good for the entire city of Los Angeles," said Filiberto Gonzalez, Founder & CEO of Social | Impact Consulting, LLC.

"The civil unrest during the Los Angeles Riots was a pivotal event in baring the City's economic and racial tensions. A3PCON is glad to join KCCD's project to bring together communities to reflect on that event, examine the extent of progress made and reinvigorate efforts to promote economic progress and interracial understandings." - Mark Masaoka, Policy Coordinator for Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON)

"Twenty years later, the civil unrest of 1992 still impacts Angelenos.  Only by forging positive relationships and building bridges between all of Los Angeles's diverse communities can we reach our full potential as a city.  SAIGU is an important step toward achieving this ambitious goal,"  said L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti.

"I remember the time period of the riots as fearful and confusing, where injustice seemed to be so obvious and many innocent residents and businesses were being hurt.  What emerged over time was that ongoing work was needed among many ethnic communities. At the same time, the image of Korean storeowners protecting their property with guns was such a powerful positive message for me as an Asian American because Asians weren't passively waiting for help.  I was very proud of them for defending themselves.  And I think it was a catalytic moment for the Korean-American community to understand that they needed to have better access through the political system." - Mariko Kahn, community advocate

In the coming months, the Committee hopes to begin efforts to educate, mobilize and bring Los Angeles and America together to learn from the difficult times through a series of collaborative activities that will lead to creating a brighter future for all.

"If we are to learn from our past we must continue to strive to come together as one city," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, who is one of the Co-Chairs of the Campaign. "We must continue to build, community by community, and recognize that our differences and respective experiences are the common grounds for unity."

"The 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots is an opportunity for us to reflect on the progress we've made in building a city and a community that is more inclusive, more diverse and stronger than before. The causes of the riots were complex and varied, and in rebuilding neighborhoods affected by the riot, we were also building those ties that have brought us closer together. We are proud of the diversity in Los Angeles, and we are proud that our city is home to folks spanning every culture and community in the world. Organizations like Korean Churches for Community Development have helped lead us in the rebuilding effort early on, and in healing the wounds and divisions that led to the riots in the first place," said Speaker John A. Pérez, California Assembly.

"We have an opportunity to both reflect and assess where we are today 20 years after the L.A. Riots," said Rafael Gonzalez, Chief Service Officer, Office of Neighborhood and Community Services. "While much has changed since 1992, there is still much more we can do to make Los Angeles an even greater city.  We need to ask ourselves what we've done and haven't done as individuals, communities and City.  This will determine where the next 20 years will take us."

Faith and community leaders from the African-American, Korean-American, Jewish-American, Latino-American, and Muslim-American communities understand the social importance of the L.A. Riot tragedies, and have banded together to provide a multicultural perspective on the events and how they can positively impact the community.

"KCCD is honored to be in the company of our distinguished committee members," said Hyepin Im, President of Korean Churches for Community Development. "As we plan for the commemoration of the 20thAnniversary of the LA Riots, I am proud of the diversity and the commitment of the committee members who are a testament to the vision of the SAIGU Campaign which is to reclaim a painful chapter in our city's history, create new understandings and move forward together in rebuilding the American Dream."

"We are excited about the opportunities that the campaign will create, as well as new possibilities for the City of Los Angeles," said Pastor Touré Roberts, One Church International. "Being a resident of South Los Angeles during the L.A. Riots, I saw firsthand not only the destruction of property, but worse, the destruction of dreams and hopes of both residents and merchants in the region. As we approach the 20-year anniversary of the unrest, we are grateful to be partnering with KCCD along with other organizations and community leaders to build bridges, foster new relationships, and work together to restore the hopes and dreams that were displaced during that time."

"AJC is proud to join the community coalition to mark the 20th anniversary of the L.A. riots. We are optimistic the SAIGU campaign will enable the entire community to introspectively reflect on the physical and emotional damage suffered. Furthermore, our collaborative efforts will serve as a springboard to reconciliation, awareness and partnership throughout our diverse spectrum of ethnic and religious communities. Let us work together to restore the City of Angeles," said Rabbi Randall Brown, Assistant Director, Interreligious & Intergroup Relations, AJC Los Angeles Office.

"The LA Riots were a defining event for me as an Angeleno and as a public policy professional.  That first night, I was trapped in City Hall along with other colleagues from the Mayor's Office as the violence raged around us.  The days that followed were filled with powerful images, including those of Korean shopkeepers arming themselves to protect their property in the face of the LAPD's complete abdication of its responsibility to protect the Korean community.  My fellow Latino urban planning school alumni were inspired by the example of Korean city staff and community members banding together to protect their families and friends to launch our own efforts to assist Latino immigrant victims of the riots who had lost homes and businesses in the chaos.  In the 20 years since, my admiration of the Korean community has steadily grown as Los Angeles itself has matured to more fully embrace its immigrant communities.  I am honored to join the SAIGU campaign to mark this signal event in our city's evolution." - Cecilia V. Estolano, Partner, Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors LLC

"For many in the community, SAIGU was a period of shame, destruction, injustice and sorrow.  However, it marked a day in history when a new movement of Korean-American empowerment and leadership emerged. While the scars of the wounded are still evident, the hope of a better future for a harmonious Los Angeles where Korean Americans and all Angelenos will be heard and respected will soon be a reality,"stated  Jimmy Lee, Co-Chair of Korean Churches for Community Development and VP of IW Group, Inc.

"Over the years our communities have lived side by side. We shop, work, eat and go to school together. Yet we do not plan and build understanding for the good of each community. We believe that by planning a day of communication though dialogue and reflection we can begin the journey of strengthening one another for a better life for each community," said Rev. Norman Copeland, Presiding Elder of the Los Angeles District African Methodist Episcopal Church.

"I am proud to be part of SAIGU, which aspires to build a better Los Angeles. It is indeed only together that we can build a better society, and Muslims are happy to join hands with our Korean brothers and sisters in doing just that," stated Shakeel Syed, Executive Director, Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.

Over the next five months, key members of the Committee will work together to develop a comprehensive campaign which will include a multi-cultural food festival, candlelight vigil, town hall meeting and economic development bus tour. Culminating on April 29, 2012, the committee will lead a commemorative service and unity march. The 4*29 SAIGU Committee is planning towards convening more than 6,500 people at the Glory Church of Jesus Christ (formerly the Olympic Grand Auditorium) to celebrate a new era of unity and understanding in Los Angeles.

"It is important that Korean Americans everywhere, and not just in Los Angeles, understand why the efforts of KCCD and the LA Riots Saigu Committee is so important.  The commemoration service allows even those of us in New York City to reflect on how much progress has been made, and more importantly, how much more work remains to achieve unity.  I look forward to working closely with KCCD and the Committee on properly commemorating Saigu here in NY,"  stated Kevin Kim, Former Democratic candidate for NYC Council, District 19  /  Manhattan Community Board 5 Member

A New Beginning

The SAIGU L.A. Riots Committee’s vision is to revisit a tragic chapter in our city’s history for the purpose of celebrating unity on the 20th anniversary of the riots. The L.A. Riots were a catastrophic event that impacted millions of lives, exposing the racial, economic and political disparities of the time.

Some of the results of the L.A. Riots include:

  • 3,600 fires

  • 1,100 building destroyed

  • 2,000 businesses destroyed

  • 2,000 critically injured

  • 53 deaths

  • $1 billion in property damage

While the damages of the L.A. Riots are still not forgotten by our communities, we believe that commemorating this moment in history can serve as a catalyst to educate, mobilize, and bring Los Angeles and America together during these difficult times. The LA Riots SAIGU Planning Committee consists of elected officials, multi ethnic, interfaith leaders and community organizers. In that spirit, more than 6,500 people will gather at the Glory Church of Jesus Christ. (formerly the Olympic Grand Auditorium) to reignite our efforts to build trust and reconciliation through candid dialogue.

Over the next 5 months, SAIGU will organize the following activities:

·       Citywide film screening

·       Community service projects

·       An economic development bus tour

·       A multicultural food festival

·       A town hall meeting on race and relations

·       A candlelight vigil

·       Unity Service