Moving to LA's Koreatown: Everything You Need to Know
Located in central Los Angeles between DTLA, East Hollywood, and South LA is the densely populated district of Koreatown (sometimes referred to as K-Town). Despite its name, Koreatown is actually one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the city, spanning nearly three square miles with a whopping 120,000 residents from all over the world.
The neighborhood was once known as the center of disruptive activity and civil unrest during the infamous 1992 LA riots. During this time, thousands of small businesses were looted, damaged, or destroyed, which resulted in over $400 million in property damage. Since then, Koreatown has not only risen from the destruction, it has successfully rebuilt itself into one of the city’s most desirable destinations.
Today, K-Town is a cultural hub of activity, offering residents accessibility to quality Korean eateries and a variety of nightlife options. Henry Cheung, a Boston transplant and current resident of K-Town, spoke with Neighborhoods.com about what it’s like to live in the area.
What’s the biggest difference between living in Boston and Koreatown?
“The accessibility. Boston is an extremely pedestrian-friendly city. Convenience stores are actually convenient! In K-Town, if I need to go to a CVS or a RiteAid, I’d have to drive a few blocks, circle around to look for parking, or figure out if a parking structure is free or validated before even stepping into the store. This is pretty inconvenient in my opinion.”
The issue of accessibility and a lack of a commuter lifestyle is a common theme throughout Los Angeles. The city is a very much car-centric, and in a neighborhood such as Koreatown, which is often traffic-congested with limited parking options, walking around simply isn’t an option for people who are used to traveling on foot.
What type of community culture have you noticed in the neighborhood?
“I've noticed that people are generally pretty respectful and welcoming in K-Town. There seems to be a lot of people who have been living here for quite some time. I once met someone who’s been here for 44 years. He was a Lyft driver, and he asked me which restaurant I was going to because he knew every single restaurant in K-Town.”
Although many millennials live in Koreatown, their stay is usually short-term. Many longtime residents take pride in the community’s resilience and ability to constantly change.
How about K-Town’s overall accessibility to food, culture, and nightlife?
“If you're looking for a wide range of options, K-Town is your best bet. There are hundreds of restaurants and bars ranging from $5 sojus to $15 cocktails. Bars are always packed. There’s no better place to be when it comes to those categories than K-Town.”
With 24-hour restaurants, an endless supply of bars and speakeasies (some of which are only known by locals), and several neighborhood grocery stores, Koreatown is a go-to destination for both out-of-towners and Angelenos. According to real estate agent Ken Kim who spoke with LA Times, K-Town is “perfect for people who love to go out.”
How convenient is K-Town compared to other neighborhoods in LA?
“No matter where you go within the city of Los Angeles, you are only a 20-minute ride away. Downtown is more like a metropolitan, and I don't like that. LA should be palm trees and sunshine! Why else are we paying this sunshine tax?”
One of the reasons why Koreatown is a prime neighborhood to visit is because it’s centrally located, which makes it a great area for people to gather no matter where they live in the city. The 10 and 101 freeways easily connect the district to other parts of town, but many people can simply take the inroads if they want to travel to nearby districts such as East Hollywood, Silver Lake, Downtown, or Inglewood.
What advice would you give to someone moving to K-Town?
“If you were to move here, make sure your building or unit has laundry, and make sure you have a parking spot! There's no worse feeling than circling around your block multiple times after a long day at work to find a parking spot 3 blocks away... then walking back home and realizing you left something in your car.”
Like many areas around Los Angeles, parking is scarce and pricey in Koreatown. There are many residents who choose to forego their vehicles altogether, opting to avoid parking trouble by taking the Metro instead. However, if you’re someone who is dependent on a car, having a designated parking spot at home will save you a lot of headaches.