Koreatown: A Multicultural Microcosm

When one thinks about Koreatown today, they think about food, nightlife and culture — all which has generated media attention. But if one wants to know what Koreatown looks beyond the hype, I’d recommend that you should spend at day-long walking tour around the neighborhood because there will be sights (and smells and sounds) that you may miss.

Based on CensusReporter’s definition of Koreatown, 117,593 call Koreatown home across 2.9 square miles. That’s pretty dense, meaning that it might be impossible to find parking when visiting.

Source: CensusReporter

As mentioned earlier, a majority of Koreatown’s population are Latino, many of whom first settled in the 1980s and continuing into the turn of the millennium. The Asian population come in second, led by the Korean community who been longtime residents since the 1960s. Blacks and whites now call Koreatown home, even though I haven’t seen many of them as neighbors down the street until a few years ago. With that said, Koreatown may become L.A.’s lead example of a multicultural neighborhood.

Source: CensusReporter

A majority of Koreatown’s immigrant-born population claim Mexico and Korea as their places of birth. It’s not just Mexicans that make up Koreatown’s Latin American-born population — folks from El Salvador and Guatemala call Koreatown home, too, living alongside their Mexican neighbors. Although a small population, Bangladeshis have a significant presence, most notably in the north end of Koreatown.

Source: CensusReporter

In Koreatown, Spanish and Korean dominate in many households. I expected Spanish as the dominant language spoken at home, but I was surprised to find that number at 67 percent among children younger than 17. Among adults, Spanish speakers lead at 44 percent, with Korean speakers nearly tying with Spanish speakers. Could it be a sign of changing demographics along generational lines?

Source: CensusReporter

From personal observation, Koreatown is a mixed-income community, despite it’s per capita income ($21,154) and median household income ($40,495). By mixed-income community, mid-middle class homes coexist with a mix of lower middle class and working class residencies.

Source: CensusReporter

One statistic that intrigued me was how 95 percent of Koreatown are renters, as 96 percent of Koreatown’s housing structures are multi-unit housing. I knew everyone in Koreatown are renters, based on personal observations, as apartment buildings dominate the neighborhood, with couple of ten-story condos just walking distance from blocks of apartment buildings.

But another statistic that caught my attention was the number of people moving into Koreatown in the 2010s, especially since 30 percent of the population moved in between 2010 and 2014. Call me crazy, but maybe these new arrivals have some kind of connection with my theory about Koreatown’s future. But that should be discussed at another time.

CSUN Journalism student, 2021 (anticipated)