Los Angeles Koreatown is plagued by trash and graffiti.
At 9 a.m. on the 18th, more than 60 volunteers, including students from the Korean American Youth Center (KYCC) and the Hwarang Youth Foundation, were out cleaning the streets and removing graffiti.
“I just touched feces while cleaning up trash on 8th Street,” said Kim Young-im, 52.
In fact, feces, broken glass bottles, worn-out mattresses, and more were left on the side of 8th Street where the volunteers were cleaning up.
An official from KYCC said, “The number of homeless people in Koreatown has increased over the years, and the streets have become dirty with people urinating on the streets.” “In addition, nightlife has developed due to the influence of the Korean Wave, attracting people of different ethnicities every weekend. The problem is that there are no trash cans in public, which is why there are so many broken glass bottles on the streets.”
Illegal dumping of trash in Koreatown is a serious problem.
According to the City of Los Angeles, the city received a total of 99,936 calls about illegal trash dumping last year. Of these, 2,439 were reported in Koreatown. This is the eighth highest number in LA. On an average day, there are six reports of illegal dumping in Koreatown alone.
“We filled 10 large garbage bags with trash in three hours,” said Alberto Soria, KYCC Beautification Coordinator. “The Beautification Department goes around the neighborhood and identifies areas that need to be cleaned up, and volunteers go out on the streets about three times a month to pick up the trash.”
About 20 students and parents of the volunteers were in charge of removing hideous graffiti. There was a lot of graffiti on the walls of Koreatown, including writings of profanity and gang signs.
It’s easy to write graffiti, but it’s a lot of work to remove it. Even with the cool windy weather, volunteers using rolling pins and brushes to apply new paint were constantly sweating.
The volunteers do their best to keep Koreatown clean. From elementary school students to parents, they make an appearance every weekend to clean up trash, not just as a one-time service, but out of love.
“This is my third time volunteering, so I’ve gotten the hang of picking up trash,” said Kaylee Nam (16, Arcadia). “When I pick up trash, I can tell if an area has a lot of homeless people or a lot of nightlife.”
“There are a lot of seniors living in Koreatown, so I joined the volunteer program to make the streets safe and clean,” said Kim Dong-kwon (16, Palos Verdes). “It gives me a sense of accomplishment to see the town turn a bit cleaner than it used to.”
A KYCC official said, “Showing people how we clean up also gives them an awareness to keep the streets clean.” “If you see large trash on the street, please report it to the 311 non-emergency City services, which is also available in Korean,” he said.
This is KYCC’s fourth trash pickup and graffiti removal event this year. Currently, the organization focuses on the 13th Ward, north of Koreatown, but plans to expand to the 10th Ward once they have more volunteers.
BY YEJIN KIM