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40% of Koreans in Poll Ponder Leaving : Riots: Survey of business owners finds deep concern. Blacks also voice fears but fewer want to relocate.

March 19, 1993|K. CONNIE KANG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Eleven months after the 1992 riots, more than half of a sampling of African-American and Korean-American business owners in Los Angeles say they are deeply troubled by what is happening in their communities. But many more Koreans than blacks are considering moving, according to a new study.

Almost 40% of Korean-Americans said they are thinking of leaving Los Angeles. Nine in 10 of those said they would remain in the United States. Only 7% said they would return to South Korea.

By contrast, fewer than one in three African-American business owners are considering moving from Los Angeles, the survey said. If they did, two-thirds said they would leave California.

The findings are to be released today at a conference called "New Directions for the Korean-American Community" at USC.

H. Eric Schockman, associate director of USC's Center for Multiethnic and Transnational Studies, and Nadine Koch, a political science professor at Cal State L.A., performed the study.

Prompted by the riots, the conference is to provide a forum for the Korean-American community and lead to policy recommendations for government and private agencies, said George O. Totten III, a conference organizer and retired USC political scientist.

More than 60 representatives of business, government, academia, community and religious groups from around the country--a majority of them Korean-Americans--are expected to participate in discussions through Saturday.

Schockman and Koch contacted 1,200 business owners of African and Korean descent between November and January. They were randomly selected from business directories.

The researchers sought the views of the business elite of the two communities on more than two dozen issues, ranging from the criminal justice system to the choice for the next mayor of Los Angeles. On many issues, responses suggested sharp differences between blacks and Korean-Americans. But they agreed on several issues. One finding was the shared support for one mayoral candidate, City Councilman Michael Woo, in both communities.

"On so many levels, the diversity and the disparity between African-Americans and Korean communities are evident in our survey," Schockman said. "But the one absolute agreeing point at this stage seems to be the belief that Mike Woo can speak to both communities and take the leadership of Los Angeles."

Asked for whom they would vote if the election were held that day, 69% of Korean-American respondents and 53% of the blacks said they would support Woo.

The other candidates were not close.

"People are moving away from their ethnic voting base," Schockman said. "Mike Woo is a transcendent politician. We see him being able to move these two communities out of an ethnic voting pattern."

Both groups also said they had little faith in government. Only 14% of Korean-Americans and 12% of blacks said they could trust government "most of the time."

When asked how things are going in their communities, 68% of Korean-Americans and 55% of blacks said "pretty badly" or "badly."

Not one Korean-American respondent said things were going "very well." About 6% of blacks answered in the affirmative.

They differed most sharply in their perception of the criminal justice system.

Almost 90% of Korean-Americans said California courts were lenient with criminal defendants. Only 45% of blacks shared that view. A quarter of the blacks thought the courts were too harsh with criminals, compared to fewer than 1% of Korean-Americans.

The two groups' evaluations of Mayor Bradley fell along racial lines. Nearly 80% of the Korean-Americans gave him a "fair" or "poor" rating, and 51% of the blacks rated him "excellent" or "good."

Black business owners were much more optimistic than Koreans about the future of the LAPD under Chief Willie L. Williams. Almost three times as many blacks as Koreans, 58% to 21%, expressed confidence in Williams.

Researchers found that blacks felt closest to Jews, followed by Anglos and Latinos. Korean-Americans reported feeling closest to other Asian-Americans, followed by Anglos, Jews and Latinos. Blacks and Koreans felt the least affinity for each other.

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