Koreans in western Queens not only look out for each other, but they support neighboring ethnic groups, according to leaders of the Korean American community.
“We try to make more relationships with other cultures,” said Keun Ho Shin, 61, whose Korean American Association awards 20 scholarships to students of any ethnicity at Newtown High School in Elmhurst.
“The purpose of the association is to improve relationships with the community, no matter what ethnicity,” said Shin, owner of Cody Printing Corp. in Woodside.
The association is made up of Korean business owners, churches and individuals, and serves a community of over 100,000 in western Queens. Korean leaders break the language barrier and act as a bridge to service departments like police, fire and sanitation, according to Shin.
"[Our goal is] to get the proper service and give them the right direction,” said President Sean Shin, who translates police fliers and and community notices into Korean.
In a step beyond matters of service, John Park, 56, of Jackson Heights, encourages Koreans to take interest in their surrounding community and exercise their rights to vote. He is president of the Korean American Empowerment Council, a non-profit organization created 1998.
"We need strong friends, we have to grow up together," said Park. "I try to make [Koreans] ask, expand, [and] be open."