By Josh Joh-Jung
New Organizing Project blogger
Photo credit: http://www.lataco.com/
Kalbi, Seolungtang, Kimchi, Banchan, Bap, Ddeok, just a couple of common food we know about, but what about Kimchi hamburger? Or Kalbi Taco? Ddeok covered in cheese and cilantro? What on earth are these strange concoctions?! I’ll tell you who’s responsible, it’s the Koreans on the West Coast or to be more specific, those in K-town, Los Angeles.
So where on earth am I going with this? Well we know food is a representative of a culture and upbringing right? And Koreans are pretty well spread out through the country right? So then that should mean that as Korean Americans we are culturally independent in the regions that we were raised in. Now it would take forever if I blogged about all sides of the country in one go, so look forward to this as a series.
To start things off lets go with the most popular and well known side, the West Coast (California Love plays in the background), and more specifically the biggest Koreatown in the United States; K-town, Los Angeles.
So what do we know about K-Town? I mean other than the images of clubbing, drinking soju, all-you-can-eat bbq, and fist fights? Well lets look into the history of K-town, I mean come on, do you honestly believe that it was always like this? And lets also look at it dynamically how the location has affected Korean American culture there.
So like all other ethnic communities, Koreatown, Los Angeles was created to support incoming Korean immigrants and give them an infrastructure as a community, mostly formed by churches, and more specifically ajumas 😉 you gotta love the ajuma ya’ll. Now Los Angeles is a huge place and filled with people from cultures all around the world and K-town takes up a nice slice of that city. And it is surrounded by all of these groups, it’d take a miracle if we didn’t some fusion of culture not happening. We all take on the cultures that we are surrounded by, since Koreatown was surrounded by Mexican, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Black culture obviously someone is gonna give and take some cultural aspects.
The point I’m trying to bring here is that because there is such a high level of diversity already in Los Angeles, the community of Koreatown was also affected by this diversity. It is why I can find a Kimchi burger here and a Kalbi taco. People find new innovative ways to mix cultures which inadvertently creates a whole new culture. This new culture of fusion is a unique aspect, which is only famously found in the West Coast.