Don Myung, LA Korean shopkeeper
Interview by Dmae Roberts
Disc 1 – 71:10 – 12 Tracks
Disc 2 – 36:13 – 10 Tracks
TRACK 1 – 0:51
TRACK 2 – 0:58
TRACK 3 – 5:06
DMAE: Say your name and what your position is here.
DON: My name is Don Myung and I’m the Trojan Meat Market owner.
DMAE: I’m going to start again. Say I’m.
DON: I’m Don Myung, Trojan Meat Market owner. I’ve been owner 1986 in July until now.
DMAE: Why did you come to America?
DON: First of all, dream country and more opportunity to living better life than Korea and when I was younger and Korean War after growing to farm and country area and I’m school and finish high school after try to go to college. And then my father at that time my auntie was already here 1952 before I born. I think war time and she’s living US and my auntie to say well, living better life in America. Not living like here, poor country.
DMAE: What was Korea like?
DON: I’m not a living poor, but we wealthy living. My father has manufacture business, also trucking business. I’m not more poor than other people, but and we already know America because my auntie living here and she think we living poor and she’s left over some clothes and send me to all the time in Korea. But after that we know oh, America like that, America like that when I was younger, dreaming. And then my father 1972 he came here. So after that I come to this country. And I know if I come in I have a better opportunity than Korea. That’s why I’m all for here coming.
DMAE: What job were you looking for?
DON: I’m not finished school in electronic. But my father was a businessman. I try to own business and like a bread manufacturer. Because my father owned a bread company in Korea. So I tried to do it but when I came after when I see I couldn’t fit it and way different was my mind and that time I try to get married and try to get some airplane fee and living costs. I want to make and quick as possible get married. So I do building maintenance and daytime I go to school to repair computer. But I learn technique but at that time I didn’t speak English so getting job, and I quit myself two months later because so much call office and I be select two and repair and that time a lot of secretary and that time a lot happen, typewriter not work. And they call repair shop but owner is out and I’m the person myself and I don’t understand what they say, so I getting depressed myself so I quit. And I go back to school on the welding.
TRACK 4 – 2:32
DMAE: This was here. You had education.
DON: yes, I do have an AA education.
DMAE: What made you decide, were you married?
DON: No, at that time I didn’t marry. I marry 1977 January 16th I’m married.
DMAE: How did you meet your wife?
DON: When I’m at school I meet her. And she finish school and she’s a teacher. And I’m drop it and I come to this country.
DMAE: So you met her here?
DON: No, I meet her in Korea. We meet her originally and she’s a teacher to our school and I’m going to manufacture bread company. That time we serving to lunch meal bread and at that time in poor country we don’t have lunch meal that’s like bread, only one bread we give to elementary school kid. She forgot to give them to kid and next day the bread was all spoil. So after that she ask me to favor and that’s why we meet her. And then it was almost same age so I’m all for her to meet her. Then after three, four year at that time my father in here, family, I’m the only person in state. So I was alone and we get in love, fall in love and then bring her to here.
TRACK 5 – 5:10
DMAE: Did you both come to America together?
DON: No. I come first and then I promise to her I’ll be back to one year, December 24, but that time I didn’t make it. One day late. December I think 26 I was there. Then I marry and come back.
DMAE: you came back together?
DON: No. she come back eight months later.
DMAE: What made you decide to buy a store?
DON: Well, first time when I second day I have a job, this country come in second day I got job in liquor store. My auntie run a grocery store. And she marry a Japanese American. So first day I come in work, work, I work my aunt’s store and also my father runs small convenience store also. So I don’t even, same day come out to airport and I like to go to work in market. So then I didn’t work with my father, aunt, I just have separate my job and I’m already mine, I’m going to get married, I don’t want to stay with my mom and dad.
DMAE: Now were they here?
DON: yeah. They came in 1972.
DMAE: Can you say my parents came…
DON: My father, parents came this country 1972. and I’m coming 1974, so two year later I came to this country.
DMAE: Why did they decide to have a store?
DON: Because got a living. Not and he can do, he got some money and seven eight kid and living. So my aunt, near to my aunt’s store they buy another convenience store. And my father run and my brother with it.
DMAE: Was it all in this area?
DON: No, San Pedro, downtown area, homeless area.
DMAE: When did you buy your first store?
DON: I buy my convenience store 1981. and then run two year later I build up to business then I sold it then I buy another liquor store. Then I make good money. And two year run I believe half million dollar I make. At that time I was early thirty.
DMAE: Did you buy it in Koreatown?
DON: No, that store was out of Koreatown. I don’t ever been in Koreatown before riot.
DMAE: When did you buy this store?
DMAE: This isn’t Koreatown?
DON: No, not really.
DMAE: Outside of Koreatown.
DON: Outside. I bought that one here, there’s school and African American town and Latino. I would say Latino about 20%. And Caucasian student was 20%. I would say about 60% is African American town here.
DMAE: How do you describe this neighborhood?
DON: I do equal treatment as businessperson. We want to be run the store and I want some success to business. So I be nice to anyone. Personally myself I be nice to anyone, treat them nicely. And sometime hard. It’s not easy to run very stressful business.
DMAE: What are the stresses?
TRACK 6 – 5:32
DON: Your question is simple but the answer is very wider and difficult. You have a good question but that answer very delicate.
DMAE: Start with the running of the business.
DON: Run business you have to patient long hours you have to work, and plus and robbery and that time.
DMAE: Have you been robbed?
DON: No, not yet. But I’m always nervous. But that’s why my daughter want me to quit. Daddy, good enough, good enough. But life is what can I do? what is a limit is we don’t found yet, so I’m stay. I’m 53. I’m too young for retire and I’m getting used to run this kind of business. I can’t go nowhere, I don’t know where I go. So I’m kind of stuck here. Until 60. that’s what I plan on it so.
DMAE: Let’s say everyday challenges. Typical day.
DON: In long hour open to close, plus the cash business and that’s the main thing difficult to run. That’s the main things to difficult, long hours and cash.
DMAE: When do you get up?
DON: I get up at home, 6:30. and shower and 7:30. then coming here about 9, twenty after nine. My wife come, she wake up early I can come in early but most times she works Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday. She works three days a week, but a long drive, I live in Garden Grove. And then until say ten o’clock, seven days a week. (Ten o’clock…) Close. PM. Then I go home and after twenty after eleven. Then shower after twelve o’clock. No personal life in run business, this kind of work. I’d like to quit sometime. I’d like to, I’m bonsai man. At home I have a lot of bonsai tree.
DMAE: Is that your hobby?
DON: Yeah, my hobby. And no time to enjoy my life. I just look and some angle, wire twist and change, and it takes months and no traveling and no enjoy for the family to sit down, talking, good eating.
DMAE: So you work every day?
DON: Except Sunday and times we come in closed after church. She’s service piano and I’m singer.
DMAE: What church?
DON: Korean church.
DMAE: What religion?
DON: Christian. And still we come in here Sunday here and waiting to Monday. So she’s come in Monday.
DMAE: So Sunday’s the only time you have time off.
DON: Release day. And we have once a month we going out, my wife and me and get away for stolen house, one day, once a month. But last few months I haven’t been able to do that.
DMAE: I’m sorry. You sound so tired.
DON: Very tired and after fifty kind of little bit different. Who I am now I don’t think about it. Because I start life in US. Because in Korea I was young, I don’t know that. But we marry, start family in this country, and like a donkey and work, work, work, so far what I see last thirty year. And thirty year I work hard. But riot hit me in 1992.
TRACK 7 – 9:53
DMAE: Describe what the day of April 29th was like?
DON: April 29th was riot, Los Angeles riot. That day, Wednesday was day off day. I was to stay home. And my employee called me said hey, we got riot. So I tried to come in store at that time my wife say no, it’s too danger.
DMAE: What did she say?
DON: It’s danger. Look at that TV, all looter and people stealing and hitting and all kind to happen, so daddy don’t go. We have insurance. Don’t go, don’t go, and she started crying. So, okay. But still she try to sneak out but they already hide my key, my daughter that day was stay home and she already hiding my key everything so I couldn’t get out. I stay home and I see TV start burning. The other liquor store, all the liquor store, shopping center. And next day not two days later. And national guard come into Los Angeles. I came back and tried to see my store. It was burned out. And after that I started getting problem to my life.
DMAE: Who was here?
DON: That day already police notice and close down. Nobody was here that day already.
DMAE: You must have been worried.
DON: You know, I’d never experienced a riot. And I didn’t know that they going to burning. Maybe looting and pull people, but I wasn’t expecting burning. So after burning was a shock, whoa. So that time started getting nervous, but I didn’t know they were really nervous until that time even so tired. Hey what the hell, I had to have insurance. But insurance it was not to cover was damage. So and then after that and my daughter something father….something happen my daughter started getting mentally problem and after the riot she started getting bulimia and sickness come in.
DMAE: As a result of that?
DON: part of it. Because her father was stressed and stay home. I worry all the time. And she was football cheerleader and kind of chubby. She tried to lose weight. I didn’t even know that she threw up all the time after eat. And then she started getting trouble and losing so much weight. And probably about almost one hundred pounds lose weight. And my wife and me worry so much and financially worry so much and home problem so all kind of problem. Then we go to church and again deeply every day pray morning when we wake up. Go to church. We hang on to Father and giving chance to living back. So finally we getting my daughter started eating normal but still she have symptom. That’s reason why I go to doctor today.
DMAE: How many kids do you have?
DON: Two. One boy, one girl.
DMAE: Tell me about your son.
DON: Oh, my son handsome and six foot three and party boy.
DMAE: How old are they?
DON: He’s 21 now.
DMAE: And your daughter?
DON: She’s 27.
DMAE: Back to day of the riots. Watching on TV.
DON: Yeah. They burning my store, I see the TV.
DMAE: You saw it? Tell me.
DON: It was April 30th. April 29th, one day after they burning here.
DMAE: what did you see?
DON: I see a sign and pass by on TV and I see burning. There were so many burnings so I wasn’t attention and I see the TV and Trojan on it and at that time they call me. One of my employees, or neighbor. Hey, Don, your store burning. So my wife cry and my daughter and me cry and I didn’t respect the burning and I thought they’re going to looting but that life change after that with thinking so much and how we’re go into be living and plus my daughter’s sick. After riot, ten year and I’ve been painful living life.
DMAE: The riots changed how you feel about America?
DON: Oh yes. I learned a lot and feel way different what my mind on to America.
DMAE: Describe how you felt when you saw your store being burned?
DON: How am I going to living? We are expensive living and without to anything in roots not established not strong, you want to try to survival you have to energy more expended. Energy is living like somebody else you want to put some roots and rock you have to more funding needed to establish. And expensive is way already higher living to try to get quick rooting to establish to my living country.
DMAE: How much did they burn down.
DON: Complete, complete. This whole thing, 100% burning and ground.
DMAE: When did you come out here.
DON: Come back to business? Another long story and if you ask that…
DMAE: Okay, when did the riots stop?
DON: About a week later, National Guard and police around. But already burning, nothing I can do. And still smoking and I ask them to fireman can you put some more water? We still got a lot of things to do, cannot coming. So let them burning and sit there and stay home and depress.
DMAE: I can’t imagine how that felt.
DON: That is nothing, and City council, City Government give me so much a hard time to reopening.
DMAE: Did insurance cover this?
DON: Yes, insurance cover. But reopening to store takes to three year.
DMAE: The city council made it difficult to start again?
DON: What I look, he’s not particular, not Korean.
TRACK 8 – 3:06
DON: he’s a councilman, it’s not only particularly Korean. But some African American also have a hard time. To reopening.
DMAE: How did they make it difficult?
DON: To give zoning problem, to give planning problem. To using power to you government and zoning department. Yeah, zoning and planning. And the city give permission and councilmen and put it into power to rebook license. Been through six, seven times, planning commissioner and planning administration and go through to hearing. I got grocery store owner, mom and pop store owner, we don’t know how to go through city government, we don’t know what’s a loan. we just by existing business and pay tax for license for business I run, that’s all we do. But when you go to city government, you work with the community, you get a lot of issue on that. We don’t know that because we not to communicate it to people and we didn’t know to community function. Really not know about it. But after riot we see them, a lot of speaker, people we meet them a lot of thing we have to go through to open store. And city government should have helped us, because they didn’t protect good citizens. We are not a crimer. We’re not a bummer. We’re licensable and tax person, good citizen. They didn’t protect us to burning all the store. And they start giving problem to reopen back to store that’s why it was unfair, the country. If I do Caucasian, white man burning like this happen, have more voting power. They didn’t treat like this, to reopening to business to living life. That is first the big shock to me: oh, this is the country racialism. It’s going to be all the way to the bottom.
DMAE: You felt it was racism.
DON: Oh yes, definitely. If I have a power to live in this country, I was a speech to the city council and hearing. My language wasn’t perfect English. I tell them you have to understand my language and I come to this country immigrated person…
TRACK 9 – 3:01
DMAE: Spoke at the city council…
DON: Yeah. I try to speak them, I say you try to understand my language you will understand it. You don’t want to hear my language you’re not going to understand it, I tell them first. Because I’m not going to hiding to lawyer. A lot of people liquor store, shopping center owner, they buy lawyer to rebuild store and rebuild the building. It’s not the law, they do put it in hearing. Should have helped us, not protect citizen to riot, to victim, but they put it into all kinds of difficult condition to run business. They hearing each hearing is not free. We have to pay some thousands, thousand dollars spended. Radial. And five hundred feet radial map, all the owners send it, and we have this is hearing and we have reason why hearing. We have to send them all the radial map and five hundred feet and mailing cost us thousand dollar that time. And we have to pay city, all the councilmen sit there, and that cost maybe two thousand dollars. We have to pay them everything and still continue planning, they give you November 29th they give you permission to reopening and December they have revoke to license, so I got what, what for revoke the license? I don’t even know the language, ‘revoke.’ Then I say what is this letter? And I show to my daughter, honey, what is it? Daddy, you cannot open store. I have to go back to city hall, hey, what is this? Such and such and such and such. Then they got on the hearing day. So I went there, I started getting fight. And my landlord is Jewish at that time. That’s Mr. Fred Roberts. That’s a very nice man. He have experienced the 1965 Watts riots. That time he have experience, he tell me what to do. Go fight, don’t let them do, the city government.
TRACK 10 – 6:53
DMAE: Victimized twice.
DON: Triple time they give a hard time to reopening store. And planning and zoning. And planning after hearing win, after councilmen using another one, the zoning. Zoning they change, cannot use it. So I have to fight again and another three, four time I have public hearing.
DMAE: How long did it take to reopen?
DON: Three year. Three year, no income. Not even Penny have income, three year. Think about it – how we living? That’s how I lost my house and everything.
DMAE: Can you describe that and how did you rebuild?
DON: SB loan they give you loan. but city allow to open right away I could use an SB loan, but three years stay home, I use up all that funding money and I try to open store, I got no money to do. So I use a credit card and all kind of what I can I use it. And right after store opening is not like it used to be. They change. A lot of good people move out after riot. And I thought I open up the same thing like before. It’s not. It’s completely changed. Right after riot, three years later, and completely changed in town. And so many people used to be in this area, a lot of USC professor and a lot of good people living. Those people move. And also the other side, good family people living, they moving out. And then start coming all the Latino community during three year, all coming, 70% coming in. and then you change your business. And I have to change to grocery store and meat market and produce market and I have to go with them. So it’s low profit and hired labor, a lot of hired labor and a lot of work. it’s very difficult to run business. And so far coming here and work like a donkey and try to survival to my life. That’s it.
DMAE: Do Koreans and African Americans have a lot of conflict?
DON: Yes and no. depends on personality, depends on meet the person. Some person African American very nice. They have experienced racialism. When you open, they open heart and we can talk through. But some low educated crimer, I know is an African American community high percentage crimer. Only look the only African American people crimer section yes, definitely hard to deal with them. But some people is very nice. So I will say, if you treat them nice, they’re not going to be kick your butt. In case. So I talk with them. I work with them. And I do it so many poor people, you don’t believe how much poor people. I work here twenty year and some people don’t even have a TV. I give them TV. And some people no meal. When you’re bad crimer, they’ve been jail in and out, the government start to give them money to live on. But only quiet people and they don’t know what to do because they don’t teach them. They don’t know where they go to work. a lot of people do that. Those coming here are very poor, I cannot say how poor they are.
DMAE: Do you think the LA riots could happen again?
DON: Well, not now. I don’t think so, because all the leader and riot after they burning their own town. Burning to destroy to community-owned. Lot of leaders of crime. Oh.
DMAE: We can go in your office.
GOING INTO OFFICE – CAMEO BY PING – RECRUITING WIFE
TRACK 11 – 25:45
BIG HUMMING NOISE
DMAE: How often do you watch this?
FLORIA: Some guy came here and he didn’t pay, so I want to make sure.
DMAE: Who are you looking for?
FLORIA: He still hasn’t come out. Maybe eleven, something like that. Yellow coat.
DMAE: Do you get a lot of shoplifters?
FLORIA: Yes, a lot. Oh, this already behind.
DMAE: She’s looking for somebody.
DON: She don’t have to look right now.
DMAE: I want to talk to you together for ten minutes.
DON: Before the other lady came, she speak Korean. You don’t speak Korean so she’s getting nervous. And that time she ask question in Korean and some language I can explanation do in Korean language. But now I have to do all in English and some kind of explanation is very poor what I want to talk everything.
DMAE: I’ll make it easy. I just want to know how you two fell in love. When did you meet?
FLORIA: My name is Oju Myung. I think about it in 1972. I just in college and after graduation after I just was teacher in small little country. In 1972, 73 I meet him first time. 1973 in October, something like that.
DMAE: When did you get married?
DON: ’77, January 16th.
DMAE: Did you come over together then?
FLORIA: No. I wait for him one year. The Korea. Then coming here, then we just remarry to small party to my house.
DMAE: Tell me about your kids.
FLORIA: My daughter is 27 ½ years old. My son is 22 years old.
DMAE: Did they help out in the store?
FLORIA: Two years ago she help us a little bit. But she’s in her own career now, her own job, she want it. She don’t want to work here and she want to work own working.
DMAE: Is that your son? He’s cute. How hard is this life?
FLORIA: Not too much. Yeah, so my husband working hard, better than me. I just take care of the money and the kids. Long time ago I supposed to work seriously, join to the working three years ago. Three years ago start working together. Last time I was really part time, just bring to the lunch, my husband do some thing outside, I take care of the cash register working here.
DMAE: You took care of the family.
FLORIA: Last time I take care of the kids, more working in the housework. But now it’s almost full time working here.
DMAE: What’s it like working here?
FLORIA: I’m just really exciting because last time.
DON: She’s a general manager. Handle everything. So I’m just a worker and she’s the boss.
FLORIA: Because last time I really don’t know just in handling the business and the liquor business, but so far I don’t have any place a safe place, in my house but not the merchandise. I’m all take care of the here and the kids that are still working here.
DMAE: So she’s the general manager?
FLORIA: Yeah, I wish to be, now I make it.
DMAE: What does a general manager do?
FLORIA: Everything watching the employee, supervising the employee, and the merchandise, check everything, receiving the merchandise and the count money and the money just organized, the paperwork and statement working in payment.
DMAE: Did you do that before?
DON: I did that on my own but kind of burned out myself now and she come in kind of fresh and try to such and such and things, she more organized than I do. And more detailed organizing. Before I do, it’s not really problem, let them go, let them go. Because I’m already kind of burning here to work seven days work open to close. It’s difficult. Even I know some little problem and let them go, but she don’t. whatever difficult, little small thing she don’t let them go.
FLORIA: This business is the Penny business. My husband all just says…there’s a payment due date maybe in February 15th. He hang around here, he forgot maybe in March. We pay our thing, maybe 35, maybe 40 dollars this imperative $40 pay. What if we not make this property here? This is my concern, very important. This is a Penny business and everything small, small organized this is successful in a Penny business. Now I just figure out that my husband when he was working this very, very not much organized. I work here and I organize everything more detail. I’m really fine right now. So my husband not want to work that much. Only hanging out.
DMAE: Do you agree?
DON: Part of them. But she don’t feel that people work hard and burning after. She don’t feel that. So..
DMAE: Nice to have new energy.
FLORIA: I’m just, before I got a lot of thinking, take the kids, my mind everywhere think about it. Now my mind is only in the business, my house, my kids, my church. Only four division four. The other thing I don’t think about it. Now, first thing, business. I wish for success in the business.
DMAE: Maybe being a teacher helps.
FLORIA: Yeah, I was five years a teacher in my country. When I come to this country, I wish to do teacher’s aide, I want that kind of job, but I lost because when I come to this country, after two months I have a baby. No choice, still under my husband, my husband take care of the business, help with my husband, no. but now maybe I’m not working here, I wish my own learning tool, some career. I wish, I really like it but I can’t do it right now.
DMAE: You wish that you had a career?
FLORIA: I wish I had my own career today. I go to school, the music part more. I need to learn. But I can’t do that.
DON: She want to go to school, Christian music college she want to go. But she work here, she don’t have time.
FLORIA: I don’t have time. Not much energy to go. I’m 54 years old. I don’t have enough energy so I can go.
DMAE: You’re one year older?
FLORIA: Yeah, I’m one year older.
DMAE: You look so young.
FLORIA: Thank you very much. So in my house my husband and me plan. This most success for the business than after we retire, we go out to lunch. More relaxed lunch, more relax to go to some travel. So that’s why I working more hard, maybe two year, three year, we make more plan, then after we sold the business then we go out somewhere like travel. I want to see the other country, go to the East Coast. Go over to Europe.
DMAE: Have you seen much of America?
FLORIA: I just went to San Francisco and San Diego. That’s it. The last two, that’s all. I never go anyplace.
DMAE: How do you feel about her plan?
DON: Perfect. Let her, she run business, I’m kick back and a few year later I travel around country. It’s perfect. LAUGHS. Perfect.
FLORIA: We was the last time, 1992 just in the LA riot. We are big, we got my husband me and very shocking that that happened. After we got a stronger mind, my husband get a stronger mind, working hard. Everything more successful. That time we don’t know how living. Oh, we can not much concern about the living, but after a while we don’t have that much money, employees are big problem, we make a strong mind. I just anyway some times thank you God maybe if I don’t have that kind of happen, that kind of shocking, scared to happen thing, we still living easy way but after we going to have that much money, financial. I forgot.
DMAE: You have a plan.
FLORIA: More stronger plan after the riots.
DMAE: How did it change you?
FLORIA: After riot, because we got more nice to customer, customer more nice treat. Customer come in, more happy. I have to be happy to them. So customer going to come in here more relaxed, more easy, more comfortable to sell to the customer. Before…
DON: KOREAN She say after riot we treat nice to customer. But before riot and now, I say no, we treat before riot and after riot the same thing. we be nice and whoever come in we go equal treatment and be nice to them all the time.
FLORIA: When I come here to this country, I’m scared to do other people, I’m scared to do.
DON: She’s a housewife so she’s not a public person. 20 years stay home. But after riot even after riot not came work here, but three year ago started working here. So she’s new thing going on and she think before and after is a big difference. It’s not, we do, but she didn’t know that before. More detail in going and learning business and she looks more business now she different concept to treat a customer. But not. It’s always we treat nice, whoever person come in, doesn’t matter, white and black and Asian come in, we always equal treatment. And that’s why I come in. if I don’t and before riot and after riot, before riot if I didn’t treat people equally, we not run right way, I don’t think I’m going to come back. I’m sure and I did it. And people love to come back here, so I make a petition to return to business to city hall and register, pubic hearing before and I show them to all the council people, look at them what I did, and neighbor want to come back to business. That’s why I fight with the city and I win and I come back to business. 400 people they petition signed it here, on the corner.
DMAE: They signed your petition?
DON: Yes. I’ll be nice to you if you agree sign for me then everybody say oh yes, we want you to come back as quick as possible. Customers, yes, 400 people petition signed it. And they back up to city council sharing and my neighbor follow me and go with me and speech to all the council people.
DMAE: Your husband described the day of the riots…
FLORIA: That day, riot coming that day. So my husband wished to go to here, he wanted to come here, so my daughter and my son and me, we hold onto his leg, don’t go out because I’m scared. When you go out sometimes and you die, what can I do? My daughter and my son, me we don’t know any just in chance to living in myself. So we my son and my daughter daddy, daddy, don’t go. And we hold and we cry. That time it was like some movie. We’re like oh, crying, crying, my husband crying, my son, my daughter crying. When I was younger I saw this on a TV movie, but that kind of happened to my life, coming here at the time. So we lived, at the time my husband said okay, we’re going to stay here. Then we stayed there after. After riot the other day, next day we came here. Looks like a war, all just ash, smoky and some guy come and drinking the beer. All lost, everything lost. Not even the merchandise. All ash. They breaking building, they breaking all. Oh, what can I do? How am I living? Maybe we go to the food stamps. We go to the food stamps. Food stamps they give you maybe 180 dollars, we never experience going to the food stamps place. Oh, they pay 20 dollars. So after that he opened next door to the business. We had to get everything, we go to the market, we go to some eating payment. Then after maybe I think six months after we go next door, we got a sports shop over there, but sports shop very slow.
DMAE: you tried different businesses?
FLORIA: Yeah. We can’t do that. Maybe in nine months, making two thousand, a living cost. We’re going to spend the living cost. So we just opened next door then had to socks and the t-shirts, but nobody come. Nobody came. That lose money too. The riot lose money and that lose money, everything lose. We can’t do anything. Then happen we get a lot of stress and my husband swallow, losing nerve. Muscle going and nerves.
DMAE: You had a stroke?
DON: Not really a stroke, but kind of nervous, some weak part and it hurt my work.
DMAE: How dangerous is it here?
FLORIA: It’s pretty dangerous. There’s Spanish people hanging out here, black people hanging out here. That time I saw the face, eyes face, very clear that person nervous. They’re nervous, something I‘m scared too, but
DON: She say they look all crimer. Criminal, it’s not normal people.
FLORIA: One shoe is the other, they have two foot. One foot bigger shoes, the other one smaller shoes….
DON: Because they’re looting shoes. They can’t even find a pair, their shoes around here.
DMAE: You just don’t know.
FLORIA: My friend told me they all looting to the meat. After riot and the one week two week it’s all smelling. They’re barbequing and eating the barbeque.
DMAE: What does she mean?
DON: They’re stealing from the meat store and barbecuing all day long because they were too poor to barbecue before. But they’re barbecuing all day now. Outside.
FLORIA: One pair of shoes.
DON: One pair of shoes, one size eleven and one size nine. And they’re looting.
DON: you hear music and they’re barbecuing and wearing new shoes.
FLORIA: New stereo. Everything looting.
DON: The thing is in LA riots, the only such people do that. But main focus, where you come from riot. That’s important after that. This is personal. In country we have to how we going to be in country for racial reason. So poor in central LA. No educated. Three things must be changed, that way there be no riots.
DMAE: What are the three things?
DON: Educated first. The second thing has to be financing. You have to have a job. Third thing, racial reason. You have to be I don’t know, I’ve never experienced but three things, racial reason. That has to be done, then we’re not going to have that again. Every thirty year. Then the generation change. Then we have to happen African American and riot come. And thirty year go and now they are living same thing, nothing change. I know their own problem, they’re lazy, some of them not educated. And that happen. But we have to help them how educated and how to create a job. If you in let them stay like this poor, it’s going to happen again because what’s the differences, what’s life no dream, what life is? Tomorrow and today nothing different. So that must change, then we’ll be a beautiful country.
DMAE: Can you explain closed circuit stuff?
TRACK 12 – 2:16
DON: We catch them.
DMAE: Describe what it is?
DON: We have twelve camera entrance and the owner watching to employee and customer and who come in entrance and color and twelve divided screen and every transaction we can see inside the office. And when shoplifter come in we know who did it and we post it. We copy it and photocopy out and we put it on the front of the door, so people know who’s the stealer. And anything happen, even small litter. Even misdemeanor and three of them is going to be three striker, in jail going , so they know that if they’re stealing and I post it, they know I’m going to report to the police so they stop stealing. Ten percent they walk out, my profit. If you not watching them. And worse. So we spend five thousand dollars spend on the security system, that help.
DMAE: 10% you lose every year?
DON: Every month, ten percent.
DMAE: And you put their pictures up?
DON: Yeah. Stop doing it now. Oh yeah, that help a lot.
END OF DISC 1
TRACK 1 – 5:01
DMAE: Describe the corner.
DON: This is 30th Vermont and corner. And Trojan meat Market. This is the entrance to going and the right side have produce section and the other side is the meat department.
DON: I am Don Myung, Trojan Meat Market owner. And this is 30th and Vermont corner in Los Angeles, in California. And this is near the coliseum and University of Southern California corner.
DMAE: Take us in?
DON: on the right hand side, produce section. And the front of the side is the meat department. And also left hand side liquor department and wine department. And center I have a grocery store and right hand side the wall is frozen. And all the way and soft drink beverage and cold wine section and sparkling wine section and imported wine and imported beer, domestic beer. And we have thirty-window door all the beverage. And the whole store size is about 4000 square feet and we have wine, table wines department. And we do have a little bit of banking service, ATM machine with it. And champagne sell. Like a regular convenience store, but that’s it.
DMAE: How big is this comparatively.
DON: This is 4000 square feet. A little bigger than most. I would say more organizing to convenience store. Most store don’t keep thirty window cooler. And I do have thirty-door all kind of beverage and variety to display. So whoever come in they’re looking for meat and produce. We used to have cosmetics and clothing and socks we sell, but I give up and put it in wine section.
DMAE: Describe some stuff on the top here.
DON: On top we do have house ware and laundry basket and traveling luggage.
DMAE: Do you know this customer?
DON: Mr. Henry? He’s my good customer.
DMAE: How long have you been coming here?
HENRY: About three years.
DMAE: Who’s this?
HENRY: She’s my little friend.
DMAE: How important is this store in the neighborhood?
HENRY: It’s a very nice store.
DMAE: I wish I could talk to your daughter.
TRACK 2 – 5:01
DMAE: Anything else you want to say?
DON: Like I say, we have…
DMAE: Oh, there’s a dog.
DON: WHISTLES. C’mon baby. Go out. Good boy.
DMAE: Is that your dog?
DON: Yeah, we have nine puppies and we sold them and kept one and the momma. Only one.
DMAE: Go back in there and tell me your final thoughts?
DON: Final part is…Final part is living this country or to society. What and after riot you mean? (anything) Well, new immigrated people want to live in this country, must be speak English. And before getting job you have to go to school first, educated to the language and if I go to school a better living than this situation. Not money wise, life. And after riot, I didn’t know that and just come in, work, work, I thought that’s to my result. But after riot they thinking so different way concept to living country life. So I tell my kid, work forty hour and your vacation one, two week you can go, and Saturday Sunday stay home with the family, kind of job one should living. That’s what I teach to my kids. That way you don’t have to stress so much. You could blow out the stress at least two times a year go to vacation and weekend go to church. And also kids, growing with the church and it’s not following a life. A lot of them losing life so much and young kids ask we do service in the church and I see a lot of Asian kids having problems. First-generation only think about finance, money. That’s not all. You have to work with the family and what else?
DMAE: The American dream.
DON: That’s the dream. Still have this country, opportunity than any other country. More opportunity than any other country, I will say that. And educated. You have to go to school and getting professional. Then you have a good opportunity in coming to this country. But still freedom country, best country, and I’m proud to be living here in this country. I’m citizen here and I’m go into die here. This is my country. I love the country here. But I do have a hard time living here the last ten years, after riots. But still I love the country, I learn so much after riots.
TRACK 3 – 2:20
And I support the country and I’m born in Korea but my life is here. So even and always thinking my country first. Here is where we’re living. And even I tell those people don’t buy Japanese and Korean car. My car is Ford and Chevy. We’re living here, we have to be strong economically. We’re living here. So I teach my kids, we have all the Ford and Chevy car we use. That’s from my mind I teach to my kids.
DMAE: Describe this.
DON: That’s Christmastime we go to family sing. My son, my daughter.
DMAE: You sing? Do you have a tape?
DON: Yeah, we do have some but we don’t bring it here. Both of them, they sing beautiful. They’re not Asian or black, biracial. Voice they have, both of them. They’re Christian singers, both of them.
DMAE: you have a recording? What kind of songs?
DON: Christian singing.
DMAE: You sing every Sunday?
DON: Yes. My wife keyboard. This is the home. And she get the church one, 34 different, this is my home.
DMAE: I’m going to get :30 of room sound.
TRACK 4 – 1:40
DMAE: Thank you. I’ll just record sounds outside.
BACK IN STORE
TRACK 5 – 5:01
MORE STORE SOUNDS
DMAE: Do you know the store really well?
DMAE: Can you talk to me?
ISAAC: Yes, sweetheart.
DMAE: Your name and what you do?
ISAAC: My name is Isaac Romero. I’m a representative of Interstate Bran and I come in here and I serve Twinkies and cupcakes to Don and his store, Trojan Market.
DMAE: How important is this store in the neighborhood?
ISAAC: It’s very important. Donny’s very good to the people in this neighborhood and he has a very successful business here. During holidays he’s cooking outside and he treats the public very well.
DMAE: Cooking outside?
ISAAC: yes, Donny is out there cooking Hispanic meals for the poor people and low-income people and he’s a very good person.
DMAE: Describe that.
ISAAC: He didn’t say that? I don’t know why. But he’s just somebody who cares about his customers. He’s a very good person and he cares about his customers and he treats them very well. And they in turn come here and shop. So Donny’s a very good man.
DMAE: How would you describe this neighborhood?
ISAAC: Rough. It’s a rough neighborhood. You have to be careful how you deal with these people because they can turn on you real quick. I’ve been out here for about eight years and I haven’t had any problems. I haven’t had problems because when they come to me and say Isaac do you have anything? I give them product out of my truck. And they remember that, so they’re good to me.
DMAE: It’s a low-income area?
ISAAC: It’s a very low-income area. Absolutely. It’s a really tough area. Very tough. It’s a tough neighborhood and you have to be careful out here. And Donny has success here because he’s very good and he’s very smart in how he works out here. He’s one of the better stores that I serve.
DMAE: How many do you do?
ISAAC: I have about 50. so I do quite a bit.
DMAE: How many are Korean-run?
ISAAC: About half of them.
DMAE: Were you here during the riots?
ISAAC: I wasn’t. but after meeting Donny he told me all about it and it was really kind of sad because he lost his business, but he’s built it up again he’s doing very well. He’s doing very successful.
DMAE: Looks like hard work.
ISAAC: It is. Donny and Floria are here seven days a week so they work real hard. They have to be here and it’s very sad because I wish they had some people they could trust and they could run the business on weekends, because they deserve to have some time off, but they don’t.
TRACK 6 – 5:01
DMAE: Thanks very much.
ISAAC: Thank you very much.
DMAE: Can she take your picture?
ISAAC: I don’t take a good picture but thank you. This is on television?
DMAE: No, radio. But we have a website too.
ISAAC: You do a lot of this?
DMAE: This will be on Crossing East.org eventually.
ISAAC: You’re talking to one of the main stores that got hurt. Donny lost a lot I can tell you. But I’ve been serving this store for about eight, nine years and I’ve gotten to know Donny really well. He’s a great person. I love him and Floria very much.
FLORIA: No, now…SPANISH Because even coming last night. Emergency he can’t come in working today. SPANISH. Ud. Sleeping? No, andale aqui. I’m waiting for you. Okay.
DMAE: You speak in Spanish too.
FLORIA: A little. Andale aqui.
DMAE: Good employer.
ISAAC: Were we right on the money? We were, I love that. Two cents? Ten cents? Well, bless your heart, I feel so rich. The little woman, where is she?
DMAE: Can I interview you? Tell me your name and how long you’ve worked here?
NAOMI: Naomi Santos and I’ve worked here around eight years.
ISAAC GETS PAID.
ISAAC: Bless your hearts. Floria I want you to go into the bathroom and wash your face.
FLORIA: I have to take a picture.
DMAE: She looks really pretty.
ISAAC: Floria, she’s really beautiful without makeup. She looks…
TRACK 7 – 5:01
FLORIA: Everyone told me I have beautiful skin.
ISAAC: Not with makeup on. Believe me.
DMAE: Makeup protects your skin.
ISAAC: I’m from the old school.
FLORIA: you go out in the sun.
DMAE: You’re a guy too.
ETC ISAAC LEAVES
NAOMI ON THE PHONE
SPANISH SPEAKING MALE CUSTOMER
DMAE: Your name and how long you’ve been working here.
NAOMI: My name is Naomi Santos and I’ve been working around eight years.
DMAE: describe this store.
NAOMI: This is a very nice store. It’s a family, it’s like a house right here.
DMAE: What hours do you work?
NAOMI: I work in morning times now. But the past seven years I work in afternoons.
TRACK 8 – 0:49
DMAE: What’s the neighborhood like?
NAOMI: The neighborhood is very nice. We’re like family. They respect and everything.
DMAE: Do you ever feel like it’s dangerous?
NAOMI: No, I feel okay. Never happen something right here.
DMAE: What do you think of the family here?
NAOMI: Very nice.
DMAE: Thank you.
TRACK 9 – 3:49
DMAE: Do you come here often?
WOMANAOMI: We’ve lived in the neighborhood since I was born. 28 years.
DMAE: So you know this store.
PSYCHIC: I’m right across the street. I have the psychic shop, I’m the reader. You should come see me. You’ve got a great energy.
TRACK 10 – 2:25
END OF DISC 2