HomeCommunity IssuesCommunityMural in Los Angeles Community Continues to Draw Criticism From Korean Americans

Mural in Los Angeles Community Continues to Draw Criticism From Korean Americans

Beau Stanton
A murul by Beau Stanton(pictured above) has offended members of the Korean American community
Photo by Hookedblog via Flickr Creative Commons

Members of the Korean American community in Los Angeles are demanding that a mural which reminds them of imperial Japan “be removed or substantially altered,” The Los Angeles Times reports.

The mural in question was painted by Beau Stanton at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex in Koreatown. It depicts the face of American actress and singer, Ava Gardner.

Gardner, however, is not the focal point of the debate. Critics of the mural have pointed out that orange-red and blue rays around Gardner’s face are reminiscent of the World War II imperial Japanese battle flag. Those rays, critics say, are offensive to Koreans and Korean American living in the area. They evoke painful memories of World War II.

According to an earlier report by The Los Angeles Times, the pushback against the mural came from a Korean-led group called the Wilshire Community Coalition. The group said the imagery was as offensive as painting a swastika on a school mural.

Now a different group, Gyopo, has joined the battle. Gyopo (which translates loosely to Korean diaspora) is made up of several artists and community members. Some of those members include Korea Arts Foundation of America board member Ellie Lee and UC Irvine professor emerita Yong Soon Min. All say they are not working on behalf of their organizations.

Ultimately, the LAUSD decided to reverse its decision to take down the mural after it received push back from artists and advocates who believed taking the mural down would be censorship. Many of those who advocated on behalf of the mural say they don’t understand why people are offended by the mural. Others have seemingly argued that is more important to protect art from censorship.

Artist Shepard Fairley even said he would insist that his mural of Robert F. Kennedy, the school complex’s namesake, be taken down as well.

Now, Gyopo has written a letter to the LAUSD asking the school district to reconsider. Gyopo believes those who think the mural isn’t offensive do not understand the perspective of people offended by the mural. They and other critics recognize that Stanton did not mean to offend anyone, but maintain that the mural is still offensive despite the lack of intent.

All parties involved in the situation- Gyopo, LAUSD, and Stanton- say they are open to discussing ways to fix the problem.

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  1. RE: Mural in Los Angeles Community Continues to Draw Criticism from Korean Americans: Give me a break . Context is everything . You can’t possibly confuse Ava Gardner to have anything to do with imperial Japan .

  2. RE: Mural in Los Angeles Community Continues to Draw Criticism from Korean Americans: The main problem with this RFK matter is gullible community members are not aware of the full true story. There needs to be a meeting to expose the real facts. Beau Stanton is a pawn in this game. This is a political issue created to masquerade as an art issue. Art is being dragged into a historical dispute as a stepping stone for personal gain by ambitious dishonest propagandist dividing people using misguided claims of racism and hate. This problem was compounded by the improper and inappropriate decisions by LAUSD. Wilshire Community Coalition and Gyopo are opportunist organizations with verbal acrobats leading people into a cul-de-sac of victimization. The South Korean government is involved and it should not be seeding hate through the RFK Mural issue. The path of the pro-censorship side is not the right one by any means. There is a lot of backtracking taking place as claims and arguments for censorship weaken. These egocentric and ethnocentric organizations Do Not represent a majority of Korean Americans as portrayed. Why did Koreans wait over two years to play the racist victim card? The community across the City of LA suffers because some people made unjustified claims while hiding an agenda that was rooted by people in San Francisco. I seriously doubt Gyopo accurately knows what Wilshire Community Coalition has led it into. LAUSD is managing the RFK Mural issue by ignoring it hoping the matter magically disappears. No… this matter has to be publicly addressed to expose the truthand put an end to this nonsense.

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