A cultural champion

• News

The Korean American National Museum has been 20 years in the making, and working to bring this dream to fruition — and a new cultural jewel to Los Angeles — is museum CEO Shinae Yoon.

Yoon, who worked for 15 years in the non-profit community, said that in addition to local vision and leadership, it is crucial to have a champion capable of providing municipal support and guidance for projects like the museum.


“We’ve worked very closely with the city, and we couldn’t do this without its support,” she said. “That’s why Mark Ridley-Thomas’ experience and leadership are what we need right now at the council. It’s what the museum needs, but also the Koreatown community.

Complex issues affect the rapidly growing Koreatown neighborhood, Yoon said. “There’s a diverse demographic — young and old, rich and poor, There’s a large homeless and undocumented population.

“This isn’t a job that somebody can just step into and know what to do. District 10 needs somebody like Mark Ridley-Thomas, who knows what to do on day one.”

MRT’s ties to the neighborhood and long history of work on behalf of the Korean American community has resulted in strong relationships and bonds of trust.

“In terms of the leadership here in Koreatown he’s highly respected. And personally, I feel very fortunate that we have somebody like him running, somebody who will be in our corner.”