April 30, 2021
Best of the States
A photographer’s affecting portrait of Korean American seniors, fearful amid anti-Asian violence
The Koreatown area of Los Angeles can be a challenging place to report — many residents are hesitant to speak to the press. That makes what Los Angeles-based photographer Jae Hong pulled off that much more impressive.
Hong, a Korean American who moved to LA as a teenager, had recently spent a year on assignment in Tokyo. When he returned to the U.S., he was astonished by the increased aggression he saw toward Asian Americans, who were being blamed by some for COVID-19.
After much outreach and many conversations with the local Korean community, he found a few families willing to let him into their lives. The end result — Hong’s somber photos and poignant text — is a compelling portrait of a community experiencing very real fear amid attacks targeting Asians.
For timely, revealing enterprise reporting in both text and photos, Jae Hong wins this week’s Best of the States award.