Welcome to the Los Angeles neighborhood of Koreatown, sometimes referred to simply as K-Town by the locals. Despite the implication of a predominantly Korean enclave, Koreatown today is a highly diverse residential and commercial neighborhood located to the west of Downtown Los Angeles. Koreatown is bordered by Vermont Ave on the east, Olympic Boulevard on the south, Western Avenue on the west, and Third Street on the north. Korean immigrants first began settling here in the early 20th century, roughly a decade after the United States - Korea Treaty of 1882. Early Korean enclaves congregated around churches, but as the number of Koreans living here increased, communities migrated closer to the Los Angeles business district. By the 1930s, nearly 1,000 Koreans were living in Central Los Angeles. The Korean National Association moved its headquarters from San Francisco to Los Angeles in response to this explosion of Korean immigrants. Due to racial covenant laws that enforced restrictive housing policies for minorities, Koreatown was originally located further south, closer to where the University of Southern California campus is today. Korean residents started to settle north of Olympic Boulevard, in the area known today as Koreatown, in 1948 when the Supreme Court struck down these restrictive zoning laws. The neighborhood experienced a sharp economic decline in the 1960s and 1970s, which led to many vacant commercial buildings. However, many of the historic art deco buildings in Koreatown were preserved and repurposed as wealthier South Korean immigrants, attracted by affordable housing in the Mid-Wilshire area, began settling here and opening businesses. Almost all of the businesses in the commercial districts along 8th Street and Olympic Boulevard were owned by Koreans by the early 1980s, which led to the installation of the first Koreatown sign in 1982.
At 2.7-square-miles, Koreatown is a relatively small but densely populated area with lots to offer in the form of retail shopping and entertainment. A neighborhood driven by its commercial activity, Koreatown is known for having one of the largest concentrations of nightclubs and 24-hour restaurants in the United States. Numerous retail stores, shopping centers, and strip malls make Koreatown one of the most popular tourist destinations in Los Angeles. With a population of over 124,000 people, K-town is home to an eclectic demographic of college students, families, and single working professionals. Koreatown’s proximity to Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood, combined with its offering of affordable places to rent, make this neighborhood a popular place to live among middle-class and lower-income families. With a large portion of the population here being either of Latino or Korean ancestry, it is not uncommon to find people in Koreatown that speak more than two languages. This mixture of cultures has brought about a unique fusion of cuisines featuring Korean-inspired taco trucks and other restaurants that attract foodies from all over Central Los Angeles. Koreatown is served by two Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway lines and numerous bus routes, making this neighborhood easily accessible for residents and visitors.