Thursday, November 02, 2006

Crime on the rise in Koreatown

Recently the section of Los Angeles known as Koreatown has experienced an inordinate amount of violent crimes leaving residents and visitors feeling unsafe. So far this year the community has seen a 40% increase in homicides, an 11% in robberies, and a 47% increase in rape. These are staggering numbers considering the year is almost over and therefore not the result of a few unlucky incidents at the beginning of the year. Residents report feeling terrified of leaving their apartments at night for risk of being subjected to such violence. In the past Koreatown has served as one of LA's favorite tourist destinations as well as an ideal place for investors to pursue business ventures. Underneath the glitz and glamour and cultural livelihood, Koreatown has regressed to a primitive state ruled by fear and regulated by the primal instincts of defenseless citizens. This is a sentence straight from the article. According to one woman, "Koreatown is one of the densest areas in the city, but you hardly see patrol cars." Later on in the article it says, "In response, the Korean American Federation next month will begin citizen security patrols on weekend nights, using a car purchased by the community organization." It is unimaginable that these citizens have been forced to take matters into their own hands in this way. And yet the real "fear" is that "the crime issue could make Koreatown a less attractive place for South Koreans to invest in and visit." Gab Jea Cho, a federation board member in charge of the community security project, stated this in response to the escalating violence. Shouldn't someone in charge of the community security project show a little more interest in the lack of security in the community? Clearly something must change in Koreatown if normalcy is to be achieved once again assuming this recent trend of violence does not become normal.

This story touches on a couple of prevalent themes that have been brought up in class. In a sense there exists a criminal oligarchy in Koreatown, where a small number of criminals have rendered countless others helpless. In this way they have exerted complete control over the other citizens by exposing them to a life of fear. I think the criminal acts, though isolated in each of their individual attempts, represent a coherent effort on the part of a few to terrorize a community. Those responsible probably sit back watching the local news all while basking in the reports of insecurity. They see these reports as recognition for a job well done and perhaps perpetuate the cycle by inspiring likeminded criminals to partake in future attacks in hopes of achieving similar notoriety. It is a vicious cycle that must be suppressed if Koreatown is to ever be the same, and from the looks of the article it appears that at least some of the citizens are taking active steps to combat the problem and take control of their lives.

1 comment:

Chris Newfield said...

thanks, Eric, for bringing in organized crime to complement the outbreak from individuals so nicely introduced by the other posts. Neighborhood watches aren't going to do much with that.