The Korean Community in Los Angeles

Where do members of this group live?

The Korean community makes up almost 0.6% of the US population. It is important to note that the vast majority of these people are of South Korean descent. These people are often self-employed and run small businesses. It is necessary to add that Koreans in Los Angeles try to preserve their language and traditions. Moreover, they share their traditions with Americans who tend to like Korean culture (and especially cuisine). In Los Angeles, the population of people of Korean descent is almost 17%. Korean Americans love visiting Koreatown where Korean traditions are manifested everywhere and in everything.

Are there any special historical/political reasons why members of the group have settled in the US and the LA area?

It is possible to trace three major waves of immigration. The first one took place between 1903 and 1905 when Korean men moved to Hawaii in their attempt to find jobs. Notably, in the 1910-the 1920s, the wives of those men came and communities started their formation. The second wave took place after the Korean War. It is noteworthy that it was quite peculiar as it was mainly characterized by female immigration as Korean women who married American servicemen moved to the USA.

Finally, there was the third wave of immigration in the 1960s. One of the major reasons for coming to the USA was the desire of Korean people to help their children to have a better life. Clearly, the economic, as well as the political situation in South and North Korea, made people try to find more opportunities in a new country. Korean parents have often sent their children to get an education in the USA as in their home countries education was of insufficient quality due to difficult economic and social (and political) situation in the area.

Private education

As for specific schools to study the Korean language and culture, they are not common in Los Angeles. The US schools do not incorporate the Korean language and culture into their curricula. At the same time, people can start classes Korean at Beverly Hills Lingual Institute. The school offers classes in many languages (including Korean). The institute is situated at 139 N Canon Drive (Beverly Hills).

Religious worship

The vast majority of Korean Americans (70-80%) living in Los Angeles are Christians. There are almost 2,800 Korean Christian churches in the United States. There are Catholic and Protestant Korean churches in Los Angeles. Sermons are mostly delivered in Korean but there are English sermons as well.

Stores/supermarkets

There are numerous Asian supermarkets in Los Angeles. These are often divided into different departments run by such groups as Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Americans. There are also lots of Korean shops and supermarkets; they are especially numerous in Koreatown. For example, such Korean supermarkets as Zion Market, Han Kook Supermarket, and Hannam Chain Supermarket are quite popular among people living in Los Angeles (both Korean Americans and other ethnicities). In these Korean shops and supermarkets, all signs, banners, and details concerning products are written in Korean. Importantly, the staff are all of the Korean descent and speak both Korean and English.

Newspapers/magazines

There are quite many Korean newspapers and magazines. They are written in Korean and they can be bought in Korean supermarkets, bookstores and so on. Some of the Korean newspapers that can be found in Los Angeles are Korean Central Daily, Korea Times, and Los Angeles Edition. These newspapers deal with issues of Korean Americans. One of the most famous Korean magazines is KoreAm, a monthly magazine that deals with issues Korean Americans may face.

Legal services

It is possible to note that there are quite many legal companies providing services to people of different ethnicity. Thus, such companies as Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and Jenner & Block provide legal services to people of different backgrounds (including Korean) in a variety of fields. However, it is possible to single out the company Korean Trade Attorneys, an international legal company that has offices in many cities of the world (including Los Angeles).

Festivals

The LA Korean Festival is one of the major and most popular festivals of Korean culture. It started in 1973 when a group of Korean Americans decided to gather and have a celebration of Korean culture and heritage. Now, it is held annually and many people (of many ethnicities) gather to know more about the Korean culture. There are dances, performances, and displays of arts and crafts and, of course, famous Korean cuisine.

Special occupations

As has been mentioned above, the majority of Korean Americans are self-employed and they often run shops and supermarkets. They often run small Korean restaurants.

Radio/TV

As for Korean radio, it is possible to single out three major radio stations: KMPC, KYPA, and KFOX. Radio Korea (KMPC (1540 AM)) is broadcast in Korean in Los Angeles. The radio focuses on issues concerning Korean Americans and their life in the USA and Los Angeles. There are news, music, and numerous programs that are popular among American Koreans. As for TV, it is possible to mention such channels as KCBS, KABC, KTLA, and others. These channels also concentrate on issues Korean Americans may face.

Restaurants

There are thousands of Korean restaurants of different sizes in Los Angeles. As has been mentioned above, they are mostly run by Korean Americans. The staff is bilingual. Menus are often provided in two languages, English and Korean. Clearly, the restaurants do not only serve Korean traditional food but also reveal many facets of the Korean culture. One of the most popular restaurants is Kang Hodong Baekjong.

Driving School

There are quite many driving schools that provide services in Korean. Thus, Korean speaking people can easily take driving lessons in Korean in such schools located in Los Angeles as Seoul Driving School (Koreatown), Vija Driving School (Koreatown), Dhaka Driving School (Koreatown), and many others. There is also an online Korean driving school located in Los Angeles, Union Traffic School. Clearly, the two languages are available.

Public Sector/government services

It is necessary to note that there are not many public sector/government services available in the Korean language. Thus, it is difficult to find medical or unemployment information in Korean. Nonetheless, in Los Angeles, there are agencies that can help Korean Americans. These are the Korean Consulate General, Korean Cultural Center, and the Korean Education Center.

The Korean language is extensively used in Koreatown as well as in Korean shops, supermarkets, and restaurants. It is necessary to note that the language is mainly used by older Korean Americans. The younger generation (especially teenagers) tend to use English in most cases but they are still fluent in Korean. It is possible to assume that the Korean language will continue developing in Los Angeles as such events as LA Korean Festival and the fact that many newspapers, magazines, and programs are in Korean suggest that Korean Americans want to preserve and cherish their traditions and language.