This past summer, the whole of Koreatown faced what any location in existence fears most – disappearance. Koreatown, after establishing its existence almost an entire century ago, was faced with a big challenge this past summer. Bangladeshis wanted to expand their community and, like Koreatown, be able to have a designated area for their people. What started as minor rumors in May erupted into a much larger issue by June, garnering masses of people from both ethnicities to express and stand up for their beliefs.
Previously, Little Bangladesh had occupied a portion of the Koreatown land area: four city blocks located between Normandie and Vermont avenues, on 3rd Street. Now, however, they were fighting to increase their land coverage, but this would be compromising Koreatown’s original surface area. Little Bangladesh was planning to expand north at Melrose Avenue and run along 5th Street to the south between Western and Vermont avenues.
Of course, like every dispute, there is more than one side to the story. On Koreatown’s part, many fear that this area and community is a major part of the Korean-American’s identity and cultural expression in Los Angeles. It has been around for numerous decades, and is a defining element of Korean culture in the LA county. For years upon years, Korean-Americans in the Los Angeles area have looked towards Koreatown to provide a much-needed bridge between their lifestyles within the American system and their cultures rooted in their Korean heritage. Koreatown was and is the emblem of their ethnicity in an otherwise American society.
Conversely, Bangladeshis want to expand their own culture as well through expanding their Little Bangladesh region. Having only been around since 2010, Bangladeshis want to express and make known their presence and culture. Similar to Koreans’ positions, Bangladeshis see Little Bangladesh as their safe haven in which they can freely and comfortably indulge in their origin and culture. It is only natural to want to broaden and maximize their territory.
Ultimately, the voting for which side should be able to have their way took place on Tuesday, June 19. The majority of attendees were Koreans, and the final result shows that the number of Koreans did indeed largely surpass the number of Bangladeshis.
Jane Yu, Valencia High School senior, commented, “I felt a very strong and present sense of community as us Koreans worked together towards a common goal.” Furthermore, Hyewon Lee, another senior at Valencia High School, agreed, “It was very moving to see so many Koreans gathered together in one setting, all sharing a commonality and bond.”
The results of the vote settled the feud and Koreatown can continue to be a popular hub for those who appreciate the Korean culture.
Angela Kim, Grade 12
Valencia High School