In a bi-monthly series of posts, we will spotlight different 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.
First of all, thank you readers for the huge success of our Top 5 Most Korean-American Cities series! After reading your comments and listening to your feedback, we decided to bring it back by featuring a city that some claimed should have made the original cut. First up, D.C!
As our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. is looked upon as a center hub for Americans of all ethnicities, but the D.C. Metro area is quickly becoming a staple among the Korean population specifically. With more and more Koreans settling in neighborhoods like Annandale, Fairfax and Centerville, Washington D.C. is the perfect city to kick off the return of our KA Cities series!
- 85,291 – D.C. metro area (population data compiled using the 2010 Census)
- Born to the first Asian American professors of Yale University, the Koh brothers both depict the same work ethic instilled in them by their parents. Harold Koh, former dean of Yale Law School, is now the Legal Adviser of the Department of State. Howard Koh is also working with the federal government as Assistant Secretary for Health. Additionally, the two are renowned scholars and writers garnering an abundance of titles and awards over the course of their accomplished careers thus far.
- In 2007, Michelle Rhee was offered the role of chancellor of D.C. public schools. Upon accepting the job, she vehemently began reforming evident flaws drawing both praise and criticism before resigning in 2010. Shortly after her departure, Michelle founded StudentsFirst, a D.C.-based organization aiming to reform the education system by promoting and rewarding good teachers and “to defend the interests of children in public education.”
- Having studied political theory at Oxford University with the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, Annabel Park went on to direct several projects, one of which was the award-winning documentary about immigration policy, 9500 Liberty. More recently, Annabel is the founder and president of Coffee Party USA, a growing political movement originally created as an alternative to the Tea Party movement. Coffee Party USA shares the idea that active participation and civil dialogue with elected officials is a necessity for a properly functioning governmental system. Follow Annabel on Twitter.
- Becky Lee has done much more since her national appearance on Survivor: Cook Islands. With a Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctorate Degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Becky continued on to create Becky’s Fund—an important tool in the fight against domestic violence with countless resources pertaining to the cause.
- Founded in 1985, the Korean Heritage Foundation (KHS), is a non-profit organization that hosts many cultural events throughout the year and educates the public about Korea’s rich munhwa. Notably, KHS established the Korean Heritage Fund at the Smithsonian Institute, and has helped bring rare collections of ancient Korean artifacts to the Smithsonian, eventually playing an instrumental role in the opening of the Korea Gallery.
- The Sejong Society of Washington, D.C. is a non-partisan organization that educates students and young professionals about U.S. foreign policy towards both North and South Korea. In partnership with the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) U.S.-Korea Institute, the Sejong Society stresses leadership skills, responsible ethics, and community service while informs the public about Korean culture, history, and society.
- The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Washington D.C. opened KORUS House as a communication hub that facilitates an open discussion of issues related to the US and Korea. Open to the public every weekday, KORUS House acts as a venue for art exhibits, cultural performances, and lectures which include topics such as North Korea’s nuclear weapon programs and a proposed extension of the visa waiver program for Koreans.
- Korean Focus Metro DC advocates on behalf of adoptees and adoptive families, raising awareness about important issues that affect the Korean adoption and Korean American communities. With other chapters in Cincinnati, Seattle, and Indiana, Korean Focus is a fast-growing organization that uses its website, blog, eBulletin, Facebook, and Twitter to address the needs of those “living the Korean adoption experience.”
- Not only does Mandu live up to its namesake with delicious dumplings, its happy hour is unrivaled ($3 beers and $4 sojutinis in flavors like aloe, yogurt, and mango all before 7pm). Mandu even offers brunch—a Korean spin on steak & eggs—which includes kimbap, a Korean omelet, chive pancakes, Korean-style hash browns, and a choice of bulgogi, chicken, pork, or vegetables and tofu.
- If you’re on the go, Yellow Vendor (a.k.a. Bulgogi Cart) is a great option to satisfy your Korean food cravings. We just featured YV in our Korean Food USA series last week, but we just can’t resist its huge combo plates of regular bulgogi and spicy bulgogi.
- One of the few 24 hour Korean joints in the area, Yechon gives generous portions of anything that you might be craving at 3am whether it be sushi, KBBQ, or any other traditional Korean dish. Yechon was even featured on WETA’s Neighborhood Eats as a must try!
- With its doors open 24/7, Honey Pig (Gooldaegee) is the go-to place for locals to get their KBBQ fix. Honey Pig offers pork belly, bulgogi, and other KBBQ specialties at the more-than-reasonable price of $12.99. It’s so popular that it made the list of this year’s 10 most successful LivingSocial deals, bringing in $137,940 in one day!
- After eating Honey Pig, check out Dain Café & Karaoke right next door. Taking up a space of 5000+ sq. ft, Dain Café is a 21+ NRB, meaning—yes!—a full bar right as you walk in.
- Rooftop Pursuit, a diverse pop/r&b/rock band, has been performing with Kollaboration and other events in recent years. Appearing at this year‘s Kollaboration New York 6, the group didn’t place first as they had in another Kollaboration competition, but came out with a solid show nonetheless. Their EP album is available on their website from various sources.
- Mark Keam, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates since 2009, is also a former aide on Capitol Hill as well an executive with Verizon Communications. Having been an immigrant himself, Mr. Keam sponsored a bill to raise the ESL teacher to student ratio among VA schools.
- Virginia native, Lyricks (Rick Lee), is a rapper and producer looking to bring the hip-hop scene to his area. Having toured internationally and recorded on over 300 tracks, he is no beginner to the rap industry. Lyricks also runs his own recording studio, Suprnova, and plans to release his next album early in 2012.
- D.C. local Eugenia Kim‘s riveting debut novel, The Calligrapher’s Daughter—which was inspired by her mother’s heroic life—was shortlisted for the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She currently teaches fiction at Fairfield University’s MFA Creative Writing Program. You can follow Eugenia on Twitter.
- Practicing dance and choreography beginning in his teen years, Dana Tai Soon Burgess is now a master of his craft with his own program, Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company. His critically-acclaimed expertise has earned him commission from prolific organizations (Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center, the U.N., and more), countless awards, and a position as American Cultural Specialist in the U.S. Department of State. Dana’s new work, “Becoming American,” an adoption story told through dance, has received rave reviews, with The Washington Post calling Dana “the best dancemaker around.”
Justin Ahn and Melissah Yang contributed to this post. Special thanks to Elliot Lee, co-founder and co-director of Kollaboration DC!
Have a city you’d like to see featured? Get in touch and give us some inside tips.