Too often we hear about the clash of cultures in multiethnic Los Angeles and too seldom about the sharing of cultures. That certainly has been the case with Korean-Americans and African-Americans in South-Central Los Angeles: More attention has been given to tensions between the groups than to their many efforts to work and live together.
Now an unprecedented opportunity for millions of Americans to learn about Korean culture and arts is coming in a yearlong, nationwide Festival of Korea, which will offer the largest program of such events ever seen in the United States.
A seven-city tour kicks off next week in Los Angeles--an appropriate starting place because Southern California is home to the largest number of Koreans living outside of Asia. Mayor Richard Riordan will launch the festival Tuesday with a proclamation at City Hall.
Local events include Korean children and dancers performing at the California Plaza and before a Dodger game. Informational materials will be distributed to libraries, and lectures will be held periodically over the next year at various sites.
A children's choir will tour local churches. In addition, a major exhibit of traditional Korean arts from the 18th Century will tour the United States.
Cultural events such as these can help to build or strengthen bridges between communities in Los Angeles. And the Festival of Korea carries the hope of spanning an ocean too, reinforcing ties between Americans and the Korean people.