Korean organizes L.A. memorial marchMore than 1 million people marched along Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles on Monday (local time) to commemorate the birthday of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. At the head of the parade were Korean soccer hero Hong Myong-bo and Korean-American entertainer Johnny Yune.
For the last 15 years, Chun Dong-suk, 57, the president of the World Culture and Sports Foundation, has been in charge of the parade, which is the largest of the many that take place all over the United States on the third Monday in January to honor the civil rights leader.
The first parade in Los Angeles was held in 1985, but only a few thousand people participated for the first few years. Since Mr. Chun, who is well connected to the African-American community, took over the parade in 1990, however, the size has grown to around 1 million participants, and television stations broadcast the event live.
Mr. Chun decided to invite two Korean guests as VIPs for this year’s parade.
In the early 1970s, Mr. Chun moved to the United States and opened a taekwondo gym, but was shocked by an incident in which a black American gunned down a Korean student in 1979.
Then, he realized that Koreans needed to embrace black people so that Korean immigrants could live in harmony with them.
In 1982, Mr. Chun bought packs of beef ribs and distributed them in black neighborhoods, and since then he has devoted himself to improving relations between Koreans and black Americans.
“Korean immigrants became closer to African-Americans after the riots in Los Angeles in 1992, but they have not yet embraced black people completely,” he said.
Mr. Chun plans to hold an international taekwondo competition of 3,000 athletes from 60 countries in August and hopes to promote harmony among different races.
by Kang Chan-ho