In the opening scene of the recently released film, Menace II Society, the protagonists, two young African-American men, make a routine beer run to a convenience store owned by a Korean-American couple. The merchants’ manifest suspiciousness toward them triggers an exchange of hostilities that concludes when one of the men kills and robs the couple. For audiences of all colors. this depiction of black-Korean conflict appears starkly familiar. Ranging from verbal altercations to killings, to retail boycotts and picketing campaigns, conflicts between Korean-American merchants and black customers, including African Caribbeans, have become commonplace in many major American cities over the past decade. Well before the highly publicized destruction of Korean-owned stores during the Los Angeles uprising of 1992, the mainstream media had chosen to spotlight black-Korean conflict as an emergent symbol of racial strife and urban decay in America.


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