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Community News: South

WATTS : Korean Official Urges Better Communication

January 23, 1994|SANDRA HERNANDEZ

The need for more social and cultural exchange programs topped the agenda of a meeting Wednesday between the consul general of South Korea and members of the Kedren Community Health Center.

During the hourlong morning meeting, Consul General Hang-Kyung Kim called for increased communication between the African American and Korean American communities in Los Angeles.

"We must go beyond stereotypes of mistrust," Kim said. "As leaders, we must provide opportunity for our teen-agers to meet and exchange ideas, and the young people must be willing to break down the anger."

Kedren, a nonprofit health center that also runs 18 Head Start programs in Los Angeles, will open another Head Start center in Koreatown later this year, according to Robert Owens, executive director of Kedren.

"We're not a black organization," Owens said. "We are a group of people who work together and we want to do this throughout the city. Sometimes we create biases against others and we, as leaders, have to combat that."

Several of the 20 guests at the meeting at 710 E. 111th Place were teen-agers invited to voice their views to the consul general, organizers said. Other guests included representatives of several Korean American churches and a representative from the Korean-American Grocers Assn. of Southern California's KAGRO Foundation.

"As a general matter, as a business matter, it is in our interest to reach out to the communities we serve," said Ryan Song, executive director of the KAGRO Foundation.

The need to improve communication between store owners and residents was among the questions broached.

"We're supporting your businesses, but nothing is coming back into our communities, and we still feel caged in," said Jeffrey Coprich, 28, who runs the Youth-In-Action program at Kedren.

Kim said he hopes cultural exchange programs between area churches and the Kedren Center could alleviate the tension.

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