Koreatown is one of the most popular neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles and one of the most visited by tourists to the city. It has a rich history and culture, and there are a few things new visitors might not know about this fantastic part of LA.
Koreatown has a fascinating history that started in the early to mid-1900s. Due to racial tensions and economic constraints, the small population of Koreans living in Los Angeles was forced to stay in an area that became Koreatown.
With tons of houses and apartments for rent in Koreatown, it became a hub for many Asian and, subsequently, Latino immigrants. Over the years, the surrounding areas saw a dramatic economic decline, which saw many residents, mainly white and middle-class people, leave the area.
As the area emptied and businesses became available, more and more mainly South Korean immigrants moved to the area to set up shop, bringing the area back to its former glory.
As mentioned, Koreatown has become a melting pot of cultures, with Koreans and Latinos making up most of the population. This combination of cultures has made Koreatown stand out for its exceptional hospitality and food.
While some non-Koreans and Latinos may feel culturally out of place at the beginning, the area is regarded as one of the safest and friendliest places in Los Angeles in general.
What surprises many people when they first visit Koreatown is its size. While the borders change depending on who you ask, it is widely agreed that Koreatown is about 3 square miles.
Within this area, you will find a plethora of shops, malls, restaurants, spas, general businesses, and everything in between. Over the years, it has transformed into a mini city, with most residents not needing to leave its borders on a daily basis.
Koreatown Never Sleeps
While the East Coast has New York, dubbed the City that Never Sleeps, Koreatown is the West Coast equivalent. With 24/7 restaurants and convenience stores and a hustle and bustle feel that never seems to slow down, Koreatown is an all-day and all-night hotspot.
The nightlife isn’t something to be ignored either. Koreatown has the highest concentration of bars and nightclubs in Southern California, with karaoke being the nighttime activity for locals and visitors.
As previously stated, there is arguably no better place for traditional Korean and Latino food on the West Coast than in the heart of Koreatown. Considering many locals are 2nd or 3rd-generation immigrants, they still have incredibly strong ties to the food of their homeland.
Whether it’s Korean barbeque, soups, noodles, rice dishes, fish, or desserts, there is a world-class restaurant that can provide it, not to mention the fact that Koreatown is also home to some of the best kimchi, a superfood, on the continent, with the mouth-wateringly delicious and healthy fermented cabbage available on almost every street corner.
Plus, there is all the food created by the many Latinos who call Koreatown home. With traditional Mexican and South American cuisine being in abundance, you can also find multiple fusion restaurants that combine Korean and Latino cuisine.
Ultra-Affordable Day Spa
One of the most popular spots in Koreatown isn’t a restaurant, nightclub, or store, but rather, a spa. Natura Spa is a Koreatown staple that offers a full day of services and pampering for only $15.
This all-day pass gives you access to saunas, steam rooms, a cold pool, and hot tubs, with additional services available. If you are a night owl, the Wi Spa is open 24 hours a day, offering similar facilities.
Before you hit the spa to relax, you may want to indulge in a bit, or a lot, of shopping. Koreatown has more large malls than any other similar-sized area in the United States, specializing in markets, beauty, skincare, homeware, and K-Pop.
Koreatown Plaza and Madang The Courtyard are the two places you must visit for some of the best shopping, but there are plenty more options once you start exploring. Plus, there are several tasty restaurants to have a bite at in the area, too.
Finally, Koreatown has been home to several iconic buildings over the past century, most notably the Ambassador Hotel, which hosted the Academy Awards several times during the 1930s. You can also find the Wilthern Theatre, which has been a hub for live shows and entertainment since it opened in 1931.
The area also has several traditional Korean-style buildings, including temples and shrines. Several parts of Koreatown look like they have been taken directly from South Korea itself.
We have barely scratched the surface when it comes to learning about Koreatown and what it has to offer. While many tourists and first-time visitors may be surprised to learn these things, any local will tell you that if you just spend a little time exploring and getting to know your surroundings, Koreatown has tons of hidden gems waiting to be discovered.