Ethnic Enclaves: Koreatown Hassan Ladiwala

Koreatown - NYC

Koreatown is located in Midtown Manhattan. Centered on West 32nd street, it's between fifth Avenue and the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Broadway. As per the name, the Korean ethnic group is dominant in this part of the city. The Korean influence can be seen throughout the area, in clothing stores, restaurants, and even the general layout of the area. New York is known as a melting pot and there are numerous clusters of various ethnic groups, the most popular being Chinatown and Little Italy. Each enclave is unique and is extremely proud of its rich culture. Koreatown is special because it strikes the perfect balance between appealing to tourists and sticking to it's culture. It's like a little slice of Seoul in the middle of New York


Karaoke is one of the most popular cultural nightlife options in Koreatown. Korean karaoke is different from what you may think when you think of karaoke. Korean karaoke isn't the typical go and sing in front of strangers, it's an intimate and fun experience with close friends. You and your group get a private room, and you get to sing, eat and drink in the comfort of friends for as long as you want.

A karaoke bar in the city

Korean Barbecue

Korean BBQ is another popular element of Korean culture that has spread to the United States. It's an intimate eating experience unlike any other. It's served family style, such that everyone shares the food, and you get to enjoy the meal with your close friends. For the best Korean BBQ, look no further than Koreatown. Perhaps the best and most well known spot is Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong. This restaurant chain originated in South Korea before opening on East 32nd Street in New York. Legendary chef Deuki Hong's menu is classic with a few twists that elevate the meal to a different level.

Korean Products

As one would expect, Korean goods are plentiful in Koreatown. Korean beauty products are incredible popular (and expensive!) and there are many different stores carrying high quality beauty and skincare products. However, Koreatown also has a lot of other, less expensive goods that are unique to the area. Cute, small, plastic animals are widely sold, and make up for quite a bit of profit due to the high amount of consumers!

Why/When did Koreans immigrate to the United States?

Korean immigration to the United States wasn't large at all until the late 20th century. There were three main waves of Korean immigration, the first during the Korean War (1950-1953). Given that the United State's west coast wasn't far away from their county and with ample opportunity for work in the US many Koreans immigrated then. Another wave came when the US passed the "US Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965" which eliminated national origin quotas and gave priority to skilled immigrants. The Korean government also encouraged its citizens to move to more developed countries in order for them to obtain higher paying jobs. This also opened up more jobs in the country for younger workers to enter the work force. The third wave of immigrants was also the largest wave, between 1970 and 1990 the Korean population grew from 70,000 to 800,000. Today that number is at 1.7 million, and they are mainly clustered on the cities on the coasts (New York and Los Angeles).

Why is it helpful to live in or near ethnic enclaves?

I think it's helpful for immigrants to live in or around an ethnic enclave for many reasons. The primary one being that the enclave provides a safe, familiar environment for someone who is new to the country and lacks a community. The transition to a new country is already difficult, there's no point making it even harder by surrounding yourself with unfamiliar surroundings. In Koreatown, there are so many little things that make it seem like home for many Koreans from the way the buildings are laid out, to the type of food and clothing stores. It provides a distinct feel that many Koreans feel comfortable in because it reminds them of home. There's a reason it's known as a "little slice of Seoul".


Daphne Stanton - current Korean

Created By
Hassan Ladiwala

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