Koreatown in Los Angeles, California is known as the “best Koreatown outside of Korea” and the area has certainly earned that title. It is 2.7 miles of pure culture. You can find eccentric shops, nightclubs, restaurants, and more.
The area is home to over 120 thousand people and at least 20 percent of those people are from true Korean heritage. The majority of the population is Latin but even so, the neighborhood is most definitely Korean in culture and hype.
Koreatown was the first of its kind in the United States and remains the most famous to this day. The founder, Hi Duk Lee, found himself in Los Angeles back in the 60’s. He came to the United States from Germany after using his chemical engineering degree working in factories and doing other high labor work.
His daughter, Helen Lee, said that some people described him as being prickly in nature but in reality he was just genuine and was always willing to help a person in need. She described him as a man where “what you see is what you get”.
Lee was very passionate about Korea and its culture and noticed that Los Angeles was lacking in that department so he set out to change that. He knew that Koreans needed places to shop and dine that was true to their heritage.
He opened the Olympic Market for Koreans and made sure it was full of brands that were found back home in Korea.
At that time there were approximately 10,000 Koreans living in Los Angeles and he gave them a way to curb homesickness. After the success of the Olympic Market, Lee purchased more land and built the Oaxacan restaurant and the VIP plaza.
The VIP Plaza’s specialty was businesses owned and operated by Korean Americans such as a barber, bookstore and photoshop. The buildings stayed true to Korean style architecture. However, Lee’s dream of bringing a piece of home to America was not yet finished.
Lee wanted Koreatown to be more than just a shopping district and so he worked diligently to bring the community together. He hosted several events such as fashion shows with authentic Korean clothing and traditional fan dancing.
Not only did Lee want a community for Korean Americans to call home, he also wanted other people of different backgrounds and cultures to be able to learn about Korea and share their customs. He was the type of man that just wanted to make the world a better place and educate people without prejudice or hate which is rare in today’s world.
His dream was finally recognized in 1980 when Los Angeles County officially recognized Koreatown. To this day, Koreatown is providing Korean Americans with jobs and more. While the majority of the population is not Korean, it is a neighborhood full of diverse backgrounds, all working together in a beautiful show of multilingual and multi-ethnic support.
It is truly a fabulous experience to visit Koreatown in Los Angeles. There is so much to learn from Koreatown’s background and history. When you’re planning your weekend or vacation in Los Angeles go here if you need extra funds and don’t forget to visit this local art Museum while in the area.
Los Angeles, CA