On Friday, April 7, 2017, the Korean American Coalition (KAC) contacted both parties embroiled in the Airbnb host and guest exchange that has since been at the center of a media firestorm highlighting the discriminatory language used by the host.
On April 10, KAC held a press conference with Airbnb user Dyne Suh to acknowledge and applaud her courage in speaking out against the discrimination she experienced from an Airbnb host, Tami Barker. The screenshots of the exchange, in which Ms. Barker made racial and discriminatory remarks and denied Ms. Suh access to an Airbnb residency, went viral, and KAC offered Ms. Suh a platform to speak through this press conference. The Executive Director of KAC Joon Bang said, "We don't want to use this opportunity to vilify someone for his/her actions, rather we want to highlight the courage of Ms. Suh for sharing her story and encouraging others to speak up against discrimination."
KAC also brought attention to the Alternative Dispute Resolution Center (4.29 Center) as a resource for anyone in need of mediation and dispute resolution. The 4.29 Center places special focus on working with the diverse ethnic populations of Los Angeles County to resolve disputes outside of the courtroom.
KAC's Press Release (April 10, 2017) can be read here.
Media coverage: Korea Daily, Korea Times, Koreatown Daily, Radio Korea, LA18, SBS Evening News, MBC America, KBS America, RKTV
On April 18, KAC commended Airbnb host Tami Barker on her formal apology. After sending her apology to Ms. Suh, Ms. Barker contacted KAC and provided a copy of her apology. Ms. Barker stepped up and formally apologized to Ms. Suh, with her attorney saying "Ms. Barker is deeply sorry for the comments she made. She asks your forgiveness for grossly stereotyping in a racist way the Asian community, and, specifically, you. Overtired and stressed, Tami made the statements out of heated frustration - but that's merely a reason, not an excuse, as she explained to me she fully understands. She knows there was no basis for her ad hominem attack."
"It takes courage to admit wrong and seek forgiveness in the face of public scrutiny. Given the climate of race relations in the nation, it's up to us now to move forward and perhaps be willing to engage one another in tough conversations to bridge gaps between diverse people and communities," said Joon Bang, Executive Director of KAC.
KAC's Press Release (April 18, 2017) can be read here.
Media Coverage: Korea Daily, Korea Times
KAC, LAPD Olympic Division, the Office of LA City Council President Herb Wesson, and the Office of Assemblymember Miguel Santiago partnered to host an immigration forum on April 13th at MAGA Methodist Church of Los Angeles.
LA City Attorney Mike Feuer, Field Representative Jackie Kim from California Assembly District 53, Deputy Jamie Hwang from Council District 10, Captain David Kowalski from LAPD Olympic Area, Deputy City Attorney Veronica Soto from the Neighborhood Prosecution Program, Senior Pastor Peter Park of Christian Total Ethos of CA, KAC Board Member Alex Cha, Esq., Korean Consul Sang Wook Park from the South Korean Consulate, and Community Development Manager Jong Ran Kim from the Korean Health Education Information and Research (KHEIR) answered the Korean community's questions and provided information about immigration fraud, immigrant rights, and the immigration process.
Media Coverage: LA18, Korea Times, Korea Daily
On April 4th, the 34th Congressional District election took place and decided the two candidates to continue to the run-offs on June 6th: Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez and Robert Lee Ahn. Gomez led with a total of 10,728 votes, and Ahn, who would be the only Korean in Congress if elected, came in a close second with 9,415 votes. Korean voter turnout is widely regarded as the reason for Ahn's impressive performance.
Erroneous Korean Language Sample Ballots in Congressional District 34
Last month, KAC fervently fought to bring attention to the error on Korean language sample ballots in the Congressional District 34 election. KAC held press conference, released statements, spoke at the March 28 LA County Board of Supervisors Public Hearing, and met with Registrar-Recorder/City Clerk Dean Logan and Board Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas' staff. The sample ballot issue is now being reviewed by the Voting Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.
On April 1st and 2nd, nine of KAC's MUN students competed at USC in their final conference of the year. In competition with 400 delegates from all over Southern California, our team came home with a Best Research and an Honorable Mention award. Congratulations on your hard work and all of your successes this year! We're proud to see how much you've grown. KAC would also like to acknowledge our MUN advisors, Daniel Park and John Yi, for all that they've done to support our students.