In a weekly series of posts, we will present the Top 5 Most Korean-American cities, selected not only for their numbers, but also for their visibility in mainstream America. Our research was guided by the following criteria: population, famous and/or influential locals, programs, and hotspots.
#4 Seattle, WA
We could begin this post with some witty blurb about Seattle, the rain, and Koreans. Like, “Koreans are raining down on Seattle like wild geese to bank on the good school districts and profitable real estate.” Or maybe even the simpler, “It’s raining Koreans in Seattle!” But let’s just get down to the real nitty-gritty. Here are the main reasons as to why Seattle is #4 on our list of top Korean-American cities.
- 52,112 – Seattle metro area (population data compiled using the 2010 Census)
- Eugene Cho, a Korean immigrant living in Seattle with his wife and three children, is the founder of Q Café, a neighborhood café and music venue, and the lead pastor and founder of Quest Church. He also co-founded One Day’s Wages—”a new grassroots movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty.” Cho’s work with ODW has received widespread media coverage in The New York Times, NPR, The Seattle Times, and other major news publications.
- Matt Kelley, a writer, speaker and communications consultant currently residing in Seoul, founded the Seattle-based MAVIN Foundation—”the nation’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to redefining diversity by celebrating multiracial and transracially adopted youth”—when he was only in his early 20s. And, while he is largely recognized as an advocate for multiracial Americans, he was also the Seoul correspondent for Fridae, Asia’s largest gay and lesbian portal, and, last year, published a poignant piece on his “taboo” love life in South Korea.
- 21-year-old student, poet and organizer, Robin Suhyung Park, battles everyday to break the silence and confront the lack of response/support in her community by openly sharing her experience of being raped by her then boyfriend. She blogs at http://robinisalive.com/ and her first chapbook of poems is available here.
- The Korean American Historical Society is non-profit organization whose goal is to enrich the lives and experiences of Korean Americans by cataloging and transmitting the history of Korean culture. The KAHS publishes a bi-annual journal called Occasional Papers, conducts interviews with Korean Americans and expatriates, holds seminars and symposia, and also encourages Korean American studies in the world of academia.
- More and more college students are choosing to specialize in Korean studies, but UW’s Center for Korean Studies has always been in the forefront of Korean Studies in the academic world. Former UW professor of Korean History James Palais was the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Korean Studies, one of the few peer-reviewed academic journals that cover Korean Studies.
- The Korean Women’s Association (KWA) was established in 1972 as a non-profit organization to aid Korean wives of American servicemen. However, since it has expanded tremendously, its main focus now is providing a wide range of support to over 150,000 individuals of all different nationalities who are in need of help.
- Sahngnoksoo—meaning “evergreen” in English—is a Seattle-based grassroots organization working to “build political power for the self-determination and liberation of Koreans of all identities.”
- Revel—featured on our Korean Food USA series last month—offers a fresh modern take on traditional Korean cuisine. The husband-and-wife chef duo, Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, also own another restaurant in Seattle, Joule, that serves a cross-cultural blend of varying tastes that you’d never expect to combine in one dish.
- Voted ‘America’s Best Food Truck‘ by Good Morning America, Marination Mobile, co-founded by Hawaiian Korean Kamala Saxton, rocks Korean/Hawaiian fusion foods like kalbi tacos, kimchi quesadillas, spam sliders, and kimchi fried rice. After trying LA’s famous Kogi Truck, Kamala and other co-founder Roz Edison wanted to bring the same experience to those living in the Seattle area. And thus, Marination Mobile was born.
- If you’re looking to get your NRB fix, check out Xanadu Karaoke in Lynnwood. Its rooms come in various sizes to accommodate groups of all sizes and are well furnished with big, comfy couches. Drink some beers, pick out your favorite K-pop song, and let the good times roll.
- Open late until 2am, Cockatoo in Federal Way is a great option for those who want to relax on some Hite beer or knock back a couple soju shots. Cockatoo’s menu specializes in yangnyum, or deep-fried chicken, which you can get plain, glazed with a sweet chili sauce, or super spicy. Their happy hour extends from 5-8pm during which you can get $5 fried chicken, ddeokbokki with kimchi, odangtang, and other anju favorites.
- Heartthrob, b-boy extraordinaire and musical artist Park Jaebom, a.k.a Jay Park, was formerly the leader of the K-pop band, 2PM, until his departure in 2009 after a comment on Park’s MySpace was misinterpreted by Korean netizens. Park returned to Seattle, where he was born and raised, to continue working on his music as a solo artist, and released his first mini-album in April 2011, Take a Deeper Look.
- Gowe, or Gifted on West East, is a Seattle-reppin’ rapper who was adopted and raised by a Chinese family. Gowe didn’t find out he was adopted until he was 18 years old, and has since wanted to find his biological mother, for whom he wrote the song, “I Wonder.”
- The singing talents of 18-year-old, Erin Kim were mostly unknown until she claimed her victory at last year’s Kollaboration Seattle. Erin will be attending college in Los Angeles where she hopes to continue pursuing her passion for music.
- Other Seattle natives include stand-up comedian Suzanne Park and Chris Kwak of rock band New Heights.
Look out for #3 next week!
UPDATE: Check out our Top 5 Most Korean-American Cities Map!
Melissah Yang and Mink Choi contributed to this post.