by GRACE KANG
For the crowd that gathered at Los Angeles sports bar Busby’s East on Saturday evening, the surroundings may not have been what they originally had in mind. Kollaboration’s Saving Innocence Summer Benefit Concert, an event that was meant to raise awareness and funds for the anti-sex trafficking organization Saving Innocence, had boasted a big venue (Ford Amphitheatre!) and an exciting lineup of artists: Hana Kim, Lucy Schwartz, Belmont Lights, Hotel Cinema and Jane Lui. Then, less than a week before the concert, everything came to a standstill when the event was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.
As far as the public was concerned, there would no longer be a benefit concert to attend, but for Saving Innocence and Justice Speaks (a non-profit with the same purpose), the next 24 hours were a mad dash to mobilize any and all resources to ensure that the show would go on. At the last minute, the benefit concert was moved to a more intimate venue and made free to the public. Through word of mouth and social media, a crowd assembled at the bar and settled onto couches beneath the inviting glow of lanterns. A video introducing Saving Innocence and its mission lit the screen, and singer/songwriter and past Kollaboration contestant Hana Kim—the only performer from the original list remaining—took the stage with a performance that moved the audience. She wrote the song “Heaven Sees Me” specifically for Saving Innocence with the survivors of human trafficking in mind. A solemn yet relaxed atmosphere hung comfortably over the duration of the set.
Over 27 million people are victims of trafficking worldwide, fueling what is currently the fastest growing criminal industry and putting a price tag on humanity. The vast majority of these victims are made up of women and children, most of whom are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation. What most people are unaware of is that much of this trafficking is happening in our own backyard and not just in what the public typically writes off as third world countries.
“I wanted to use what I do best, which is music,” said Kim, a producer for the concert. She wasn’t alone in this endeavor. Following a brief intermission, Paubla Reyes and John Riley of Justice Speaks, led the listeners through a series of covers selected to complement the issue. Accompanied by percussion from Riley on jinbei drum, Paula played an acoustic guitar and serenaded the crowd with some recognizable hits, including “Only Hope” from the 2002 film A Walk to Remember, as well as a Spanish number titled “Corazon De Piedra (Heart of Stone),” which tells the story of a person who, after becoming hardened by trials, discovers that there is always a second chance.
To bring focus to the objective of the evening, Jason Y. Lee, Korean American founder and ED of Jubilee Project, presented the trailer for an upcoming documentary called Save My Seoul, in which he and fellow JP members unwittingly stumble upon the thriving sex trafficking industry in the capital of South Korea, and subsequently pursue the issue by journeying into the red light districts of Seoul with nothing but cameras and questions for the truth behind these horrors. The documentary is slated for release this fall.
Hana Kim closed the show with a cover of Brooke Fraser’s “Hymn,” and a call for action and prayers for the survivors of human trafficking. “I already see the seeds being planted,” Kim said. “That’s how I got started by just learning. I hope they start learning and doing what they do best to spread the word.”
Here’s a PSA for the Saving Innocence project:
Top photo: Hana Kim performs at Saturday’s benefit concert. Photo by Tiger Souvannakoumane.