LAist includes Carol Park in new podcast, ‘Inheriting’

Author: Sandra Baltazar Martinez
May 18, 2024

Carol K. Park is sharing a piece of her Korean American family’s history with “Inheriting,” a new podcast on LAist, Southern California Public Radio.

Park, an ethnic studies doctoral student and staff member with UCR’s Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies, and her older brother, speak about the relationship with their late mother, Son Park, and how the the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest impacted their small family.

Carol K. Park

New episodes of this first season will air every Thursday, beginning May 23 through July 11. Park’s two-part story will drop May 23. 

“This particular story has been an amazing journey because, for the first time, my brother participated in the interview and it’s been so fulfilling to see how much care and time the journalists spent on telling this story,” said Park, a filmmaker, researcher, and author of “Memoir of a Cashier: Korean Americans, Racism and Riots” (Young Oak Kim Center, UCR 2017) and co-author of “Korean Americans: A Concise History” (Korea University Press 2019). “They spent months talking to everyone and truly captured the essence of the story and how we inherit our parents’ and grandparents’ traumas, accomplishments, and everything in between. Sharing our mother’s story brought us closer, and I’m sure she is smiling down on us from heaven.”

In the show’s trailer NPR’s Emily Kwong introduces various voices, all sharing dark truths about history and how they have impacted generations of Asian American and Pacific Islander families. Most are stories briefly mentioned in history books, said Kwong, an award-winning journalist and founding reporter and co-host for Short Wave, NPR’s science podcast. Park’s episode was lead-produced by Minju Park (no relation to Carol Park), LAist Studios associate producer. 

“Carol was an engaging storyteller with specificity in the details of her story — growing up in Compton working as a cashier at her family’s gas station and experiencing the 1992 Los Angeles Uprising as a child. It was a uniquely Korean American story embedded into the history of Los Angeles that I had never heard from that perspective, even as a Korean American myself,” Minju Park wrote in an email. “It was clear she was able to tell her story with the clarity she did because she had put in so much work over the years to process and understand it. Most importantly, I was struck by how Carol’s story led into her present-day mission to educate and uplift the next generation of Asian Americans.” 

Carol K. Park and her mom, Son Park, at the family gas station garage in 2012. (Photo courtesy of Carol K. Park)

In “Memoir of a Cashier: Korean Americans, Racism and Riots,” Park documented her familial relationship, centered much around the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest that left many businesses in shambles, including her mother’s gas station in central L.A. 

The unrest was a result of the acquittal of four white Los Angeles Police Department officers who violently beat Rodney King, an African American motorist who had been pulled over for speeding after an eight-mile chase. It was an era of severe racial profiling and brutality against African Americans and Hispanics. For five days the city turned into chaos. Looting, violence, and arson filled the streets, resulting in 50 deaths, more than 2,300 injured, and over $1 billion in property damage. 

Yet, Park’s mom decided to never talk about the violence that Korean businesses like hers had experienced. But Park hoped for more answers, for the emotional experience of it all. 

The late Son Park at the family gas station in 2012. (Photo courtesy of Carol K. Park)

When Minju Park and Anjuli Sastry Krbechek, senior producer at LAist, learned about Park’s book, they knew it had to be included in “Inheriting.” 

Minju Park said she found Park through UCR associate professor, Keunpyo Root Park. Both Park and Root Park had collaborated on the film “The 1992 LA Riots: Reflections of our Future.”  

“We’ve all likely heard the story of the 1992 Los Angeles Uprising — whether during the event itself or in subsequent coverage following the event. Sometimes that coverage can be surface level and doesn’t go deeper. But Carol’s story is so personal and really gets at the processing of one’s place in history years after something has occurred, and also allows her to understand her own identity better,” Krbechek, wrote in an email. “She does this processing in part through conversations she has with her mom about experiencing the event and through a chat with her brother that she has for the first time on ‘Inheriting.’ These conversations form the crux of our entire show — being able to have this dialogue with family members so you understand how they (even as regular citizens) might be actors in history – and sometimes come closer together.”

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