ByRoxana Ortiz, writer at
'Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone.' -Ella Wheeler Wilcox Twitter/Instagram: @ThatSimpleRoxy
Roxana Ortiz

Hello Film Lovers,

Today we're going to talk about Gook, an upcoming black and white film written and directed by Justin Chon. Although the Twilight saga has ended, the actor has been keeping quite busy with his YouTube channel and other roles in films and TV shows such as Revenge of the Green Dragons, Man Up, and Dramaworld.

With his newest film, Justin Chon offers a look at the Korean-American experience of the Los Angeles riots. Though we know of the looting that occurred during this tumultuous time, we have never seen a narrative straight from those who were most affected by the riots, the Korean-American community of Los Angeles.

Gook Means Country

Gook is a dramedy that revolves around Eli and Daniel, two Korean-American brothers who are struggling to keep their family's shoe store afloat. Both strike up a friendship with an 11-year-old African-American girl named Kamilla, whose brother Keith disapproves of their friendship. It is through the tense atmosphere of the LA riots that Keith decides to take matters into his own hands and comes up with a plan to steal all of Eli and Daniel's merchandise in the hope that it will keep them away from his little sister, Kamilla. What happens next in the film will offer a look at a past that is seldom talked about.

Justin Chon firmly believes that Gook is a film that truly captures the Korean American experience during this time. He's not wrong in saying that:

Every film that has come out to date about the riots unfortunately share a poor representation of the events that actually took place, especially towards Korean-Americans and that has always struck a nerve with me.

Beyond The Looting

We all have seen or heard of the looting that occurred during the LA riots, but very few people remember images like the ones below. The news coverage of these events focused on the violence and the danger because the crime rate in the US was growing steadily every year and there seemed to be no stop to it.

Store Owners Defend Their Business
Store Owners Defend Their Business

These men were ready to unload on anybody who crossed their path and destroyed their livelihood.

There was no hesitation, only survival. For many families, these businesses were all they had and without them they'd be left penniless and on the street. Some were forced to leave the US after they'd lost everything, while others tried to pick up the pieces and start all over.

The Aftermath of the LA Riots
The Aftermath of the LA Riots

With so much destruction, many people took to the streets to march for peace.

As an act of solidarity, 30,000 people gathered on May 3, 1992 to march around Koreatown to ask for an end to the violence.

Moving on from the facts, let's move on to the main cast.

The Cast

Since this film is still in post-production, I thought I would introduce you to the rest of the main actors.

David So as Daniel

David So
David So

David So is a well-known YouTuber whose comedy chops have garnered the attention of millions of people. He currently has almost one million and a half subscribers who enjoy his vlogs, rants, and opinion pieces.

Since this film is considered a dramedy, we can expect to see him crack a joke here and there.

This being his feature film debut, I can't wait to see what he brings to the table.

Simone Baker as Kamilla

Simone Baker is a young actress who both Justin Chon and David So have consistently said they are so lucky to have in the film. We'll have to wait and see how this young girl draws us into the movie with her acting. So far, I'd say she's going to surprise everyone.

Final Thoughts

Gook offers a piece of history that has been neglected for a long time, a piece of history that for some hits close to home on many levels. For Justin Chon, this film is a passion project that has been a long time coming. It's a personal journey to his past that he vaguely remembers, but the memories remain vivid to people (like his father, who lived through it). Though he was only ten, it took Justin many years to fully understand the struggle that occurred after the riots.

"As I grew older, I began to truly understand the magnitude of that tragic event and tried to justify a reason for why it happened. Through my research and conversations with my father, what moved me the most was just how much he sacrificed and the countless obstacles he endured just for me to live in this country. I will be eternally grateful."

The 25th anniversary of the LA riots will be next year. This film comes at the right time to offer a new perspective about what really happened.

For more information about Gook, please watch the video below for a personal message from Justin Chon, whose Kickstarter will serve to help him take the film into post-production and hopefully the film festival circuit.

[Source: Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times Photos, Gook Kickstarter]

What are your thoughts on this new perspective of the LA riots? Did you know there was another side to them?

Let me know in the comments below.


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