Community demands answers on stalled Korean American National Museum in LA

Community demands answers on stalled Korean American National Museum in LACommunity demands answers on stalled Korean American National Museum in LA
via morphosisarchitects
Ryan General
April 8, 2024
Korean American advocates are calling for accountability over the stalled construction of the proposed Korean American National Museum in Los Angeles.
Key points:
  • The museum was planned to be a dedicated cultural center and landmark in L.A.’s Koreatown. The board of directors of the Korean American National Museum originally set the museum’s opening to 2022.
  • Millions have been raised but the project has hit delays reportedly due to the pandemic, leadership losses and political setbacks.
  • A new community group has expressed frustration and is demanding more accountability and progress, reported LAist
  • In 2019, organizers stated that it had generated $15 million out of the $32 million funding needed to complete the project.
  • More funding is required due to rising construction costs and multiple design changes.
The details:
  • Over the years, the project has raised over $20 million in private and government support. However, former board members cited challenges such as COVID-19, which caused fundraising delays and permitting issues, LAist previously reported.
  • A major blow to the project was the death of key donor and philanthropist Dr. Myung Ki “Mike” Hong at age 87 in 2021. In the same year, a partner in the project, former Koreatown Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas was embroiled in a federal bribery scandal.
  • The museum’s former Executive Director Shinae Yoon, who reportedly refused to comment on the issue, stepped down from the project on April 1.
  • Filmmaker Christopher H.K. Lee is leading a new group called “Friends and Supporters of the Korean American National Museum” to demand accountability from the museum organizers. 
  • Lee’s group, which has gained over 200 backers, met last month at the Korean American Institute of Los Angeles to discuss the state of the museum. The members also raised questions about how the raised funds have been used.
  • Over the last few decades, other diaspora communities, including Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans and Armenian Americans, have successfully built dedicated cultural history museums in L.A. 
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