Koreatown


A slice of Seoul     

Where art thou, Koreatown?

The heart of Manhattan's  Koreatown is located on 32nd Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway. Unlike Chinatown in lower Manhattan, most Koreans do not actually live in the area, opting instead to live in Queens. Koreatown is largely a district comprised of restaurants, karaoke bars, spas, and snack food establishments.

The area is tucked amid several more mainstream tourist destinations--the Empire State Building, Herald Square, the Manhattan Mall, and Madison Square Garden. The high volume of tourists walking past Koreatown to these spots ensures that "K-Town," as it is affectionately called, remains a well-kept secret to those who aren't in the know.

 A variety of English language schools are located near Koreatown, making it a boon for visitors and new immigrants looking to practice their language skills. These schools provide a way for recent arrivals to the U.S. to network, practice their English, and make friends.  Manhattan Language is located on West 30th Street, Zoni Language Center is situated near the Empire State Building, on West 34th Street; and Hello World Language Center is a short walk down, on 23rd Street, near Madison Square Park. The International Center, located on 23rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue, provides conversation practice, courses, and English language tutoring for a nominal fee. Korean students represent a significant portion of the student population at each of these establishments.

You may ask yourself, "How do I get here?"

Just as all roads lead to Rome, you'll find that there are many routes to help you get to Koreatown. The B, D, F, and V lines and the N, R, and W all meet at the Herald Square station, which will drop you right in the busiest thoroughfare in Koreatown, if you take the 32nd Street exit on the northeast side. Or, if you like, you can take the 1, 2, and 3 or A, C, and E lines to Penn Station and stroll the (somewhat unsightly) two blocks east on 32nd Street. If you enjoy "putting on the ritz" on Park Avenue, or just happen to be on your way home from Lehman College, you can take the 6 train to the 33rd Street stop. Head to the front of the train, and you'll find yourself at the 32nd Street exit, a mere two blocks east of Koreatown's epicenter. MTA offers visuals of these transportation intracacies, and HopStop can help you calculate your travel time to Koreatown from anywhere in the five boroughs. (Caveat emptor: HopStop is not always aware of subway service changes).

History of Koreatown

According to Daily News writer Lan N. Nguyen, the lively, bustling K-Town we know today came of age in the mid to late 1980s. Before that, a few stray establishments catering to Koreans and Korean-Americans were the only cultural markers. Wikipedia tells us that the Korean population in New York experienced a surge of over 15,000 from 1990 to the year 2000. As the Korean population continues to grow, with it grows the number of restaurants, businesses, and supermarkets for those seeking the flavors and products of home. 

 New York is not the only city where Korean and Korean-American residents have established a Koreatown. K-Towns can be found in American cities as varied as Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, San Francisco, and Seattle, and in countries ranging from Chile to Vietnam. If you're planning to travel, see whether your destination is on Wikipedia's list of regional Koreatowns.

Your editor and pilot on this journey through Koreatown.

 

 

The magic starts here.

 


You will often find me here, slumped against the window after one too many rounds of apple soju.



Downtown Seoul...or West 32nd Street? 

(Koreatown images courtesy of Wired New York message boards)