20 Years after 4.29 (Sa-I-Gu): From Civil Unrest to Civic Action

For Immediate Release
April 13, 2012

Morna Ha, NAKASEC, mha@nakasec.org | 202-299-9540
Dae Joong Yoon, KRC, djyoon@krcla.org | 323-937-3718
Sik Son, KRCC, sohnsik@chicagokrcc.org 773-293-4050


20 Years after 4.29 (Sa-I-Gu):

From Civil Unrest to Civic Action

NAKASEC, KRCC & KRC Promote Community Organizing and Civic Participation

On the eve of the 20th Anniversary of the Los Angeles Civil Unrest, the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and its affiliates the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC) in Chicago and the Korean Resource Center (KRC) in Los Angeles are launching a call to action to Korean Americans. Throughout April and May, community members are asked to participate in events that strengthen communities, encourage political participation and support immigration reform. [See attached document for events coordinated by KRC, KRCC and NAKASEC]

Sa-I-Gu and the wave of attacks on all immigrant and communities of color throughout the 1990s was a call for Korean Americans to become empowered stakeholders and agents of change. The community was confronting devastating impacts of the 1996 welfare reform laws and the passage of the vehemently anti-immigrant Prop 187 in California. The Korean American community was seeking a way to address race and establish a political identity that aligned with people of color, navigated the civic process and built community power.

“Korean Americans learned from Sa-I-Gu that we need to organize and build bridges with other vulnerable communities to advance a shared agenda of economic and social justice. And that’s exactly what we did,” said Dae Joong Yoon, executive director of KRC. “We established organizations like NAKASEC that launched campaigns to build a critical mass of politically informed citizenry that organized from the bottom-up on issues impacting diverse communities nationally.”

Through these campaigns, Korean Americans, young and old, have led the way alongside allied communities to winning many hard-fought battles:  the restoration SSI and food stamp benefits in the 1990s; health care for immigrant children in 2009; and the growth of the movement of undocumented students to access higher education.  NAKASEC and its affiliates, in deep connection to the Korean American community, have become a strong voice in the progressive movement in the United States.

A core component of this work was been the development of a seamless path to voter empowerment from naturalization to voter mobilization for limited English proficient and new voters.

“In 1996 Korean Americans in Chicago through KRCC launched a multi-faceted voter program – the first of its kind for Korean Americans,” said Sik Son executive director of KRCC. “Today our programs have become even more strategic and targeted. As a result of our organizing project, KA VOICE, Korean American voters had the highest rates of turn-out of all Early Voter sites for the March Primary elections. We will take this experience with us as we head into another critical election in November.”

During April and May, community members are being called to participate in voter registration drives, naturalization ceremonies, supporting access to education for all and actions for immigrant and civil rights.

Morna Ha, executive director of NAKASEC, said “During this highly political year, we face a familiar set of challenges as we did in the 1990s. The rights of immigrants, voters and workers are being stripped away, families are struggling to make ends meet and immigrant young people are denied an education. The events taking place from Los Angeles, Chicago to Washington D.C., are an opportunity for Korean Americans to protect what we have won over the last 20 years and continue moving forward with a progressive agenda that is just being realized.”


 The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) was founded in 1994 by local community centers to project a national progressive voice and promote the full participation of Korean Americans as a part of a greater goal of building a national movement for social change. NAKASEC is based D.C. and Los Angeles. NAKASEC also has affiliates in Chicago (Korean American Resource & Cultural Center) and Los Angeles (Korean Resource Center).

20 Years After Sa-I-Gu:From Civil Unrest to Civic Action

List of Events and Actions coordinated by NAKASEC, KRC & KRCC


Date Event/Activity Contact
April to Early June(deadline to apply is May 18 – postmarked) 5th Annual DREAM Scholarship Fund!Apply today or donate and volunteer at grassroots fundraising events in LA, Chicago and Washington D.C.! Jani Kim, Californiajani@krcla.org


Youngsun Song, Illinois



Joyce Yin, all other states



Daily Voter Registration effortsRegister to vote today or inquire about volunteering opportunities at voter registration drives! Dayne Lee, Californiadayne@krcla.org


Hey Kyung Eum, Illinois



Los Angeles

Date Event/Activity Contact
April 14 AB540 Workshop:Students and parents are encouraged to attend this workshop led by AKASIA youth members to learn about financial resources for undocumented immigrants students in California Jani Kimjani@krcla.org
April 27 Voting Rights and Technology Demonstration with LA County Registrar’s Office Dayne Leedayne@krcla.org
April 28 Naturalization workshop(part of the national “Become a Citizen Now!” campaign) Tam Duongtam@krcla.org
Every Saturday High School Leadership Program:Open to all currently enrolled high school students who are eager to learn about community empowerment and promote civic participation Dayne Leedayne@krcla.org




Date Event/Activity Contact
April 28 Citizenship Workshop(part of the national “Become a Citizen Now!” campaign) Ju Young Ohjuyoung@chicagokrcc.org


May 1 May Day George Lieugeorge@chicagokrcc.org
May 8 Springfield Advocacy Day George Lieugeorge@chicagokrcc.org
May 22 Citizenship Workshop(part of the national “Become a Citizen Now!” campaign) Ju Young Ohjuyoung@chicagokrcc.org


May 25 UPRISE3Youth Cultural Show Celebrating Leadership Youngsun Songyoungsun@chicagokrcc.org



Washington D.C.

Date Event/Activity Contact
April 23 – 24 Vigil in front of U.S. Supreme Court – pre-mobilization for hearing on Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB 1070 Joyce Yinjyin@nakasec.org


April 25 Rally in front of U.S. Supreme Court -Hearing on Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB 1070 Joyce Yinjyin@nakasec.org