What is Koreatown?

Congratulations to our 2018 What is Koreatown Art Competition winner, Ji Park of Pasadena Art Center! 

The topic for this year's art competition, What is Koreatown?, is important because it commemorates the December 5, 2018, Koreatown Day celebrations, supported by the City Council Herb Wesson and the Korean American History Museum. 

Ji Park is a junior year art student who pursues a career in the entertainment industry as a storyboarder and designer. She lives in Los Angeles, California where she attends Art Center College of Design, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Science for Entertainment Design. Ji grew up in Chungju, Korea, where she built up a strong foundation of traditional art skills which allowed her to practice a variety of works in her field.

She focused her design on the history of how hard it was for immigrants to come to Los Angeles and yet how filled with culture, history, and community Koreatown can be even as it was built from nothing. 


I am a Korean student who moved to LA without a family to study art. When I first arrived to LA, everything was unfamiliar and foreign to me. Koreatown started in a neighborhood that was not as clean or vibrant as today’s version. The restaurants, shops, businesses, and communities reflect the hard work, efforts, and community collaboration that Koreatown underwent in these last decades. I didn’t have much when I first came to LA and I did my best to make it my home by finding furniture and décor that would make it more home for me. My story shows that I scrambled to make this scary, messy, and unfamiliar landscape into a home over time. To me, Koreatown is a place that resembles me. It is messy, busy, familiar, unfamiliar, filled with culture, and diversity yet without a clear guideline or borders. It is a story of people who struggled to make a home with what they had and their hopes for a future in LA. Through this painting, I wanted to convey the charm of this city, Los Angeles, and what is today called Koreatown.