Since 2006, Josh has worked as a Senior Human Relations Staff at the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, whose mission is “to transform prejudice into acceptance, inequity into justice, and hostility into peace.” Although his work takes him from Pomona to Malibu and Long Beach to Lancaster, his office is based in Koreatown near the Vermont Corridor.
Where is your hometown?
I was born in downtown Los Angeles and lived in Rustic Canyon by the ocean when I was young. I moved to Albuquerque when I was 10, then Everett, Washington when I was 12. I stayed there until college. So home is always an issue. There’s not one particular place that I call home. Currently, I reside in Glendale, California.
Do you live or work in Koreatown?
My office is in Koreatown at the corner of 6th and Vermont, in an innocuous, anonymous bureaucratic box. You wouldn’t even notice it if you went by. I work for the Human Relations Commission of Los Angeles County, which has been around since 1943. Its purpose is to bring the diversity of Los Angeles together in ways that promote social equity. I go into schools and prisons and work with everyone there to improve the conditions. We bring inspiration to institutions that are traditionally oppressive.
What are your thoughts on Koreatown?
I personally love Koreatown because it reminds me of what the Japanese-American community could’ve been. My grandmother is from Terminal Island in Long Beach and she was one of 10,000 Japanese Americans evacuated for the internment. That community never came back together the same way, and I always wondered what it would’ve been like if it had stayed intact. Koreatown is a vibrant example of what it could’ve been like. During the Rodney King riots, Koreans were targeted in a way that the Japanese were targeted. But the inclusionary and multicultural social fabric of Koreatown is an example of American diversity at its best.
What is your favorite part of Koreatown?
I like the Zion Market. I always think that if I was going to give tours of L.A. that I would take people from out of town or out of the country to that 100 percent Korean mall to just show how many cultures there are in L.A., where everyone probably speaks a little English, but you might not ever hear it spoken. I like being able to get those Korean-style grapes and Korean ear pickers.