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‘Unofficial’ Koreatown slowly emerging in San Francisco with growing popularity

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Another Koreatown is slowly emerging in California, and this is in San Francisco.

San Francisco has a relatively smaller Korean-American population than Los Angeles, and their residences are far apart.

However, the quiet formation of a Koreatown in an unexpected location is attracting more foot traffic, local media outlet The San Francisco Standard reported on June 6.

San Francisco Koreatown is located in Japantown, a neighborhood about 2.2 miles from Chinatown, where dozens of Korean-American businesses have already opened and are thriving.

Centered on Post Street between Fillmore and Laguna streets, the neighborhood is home to restaurants such as YakiniQ Korean BBQ, Jina Bakery, Daeho Kalbijjim & Beef Soup, Beque BBQ, Doobu, San Wang Restaurant, Dimples, Pagoda, and Seoul Garden, as well as bars, bakeries, and hair salons.

“Unofficial” Koreatown is forming in San Francisco. [Image captured from Google Maps]
About two to three blocks south of Fillmore Street, Geary Boulevard is home to Woori Food Market and Kitchen Woori, a catering company operated by Woori Group, as well as Bansang, a high-end Korean restaurant, Imperial Health Spa, Queen’s Home Houseware & Gift, and Fillmore Billiards.
Other businesses in the area include skincare, karaoke, law firms, and private doctors with Korean-language signs.
“Some people already refer to the area as ‘Koreatown’ within the Korean community,” the San Francisco Standard reported.
Korean American business owners formed the Korean American Restaurant Association of San Francisco (KARA SF) earlier this year with plans to develop the area into a Korean restaurant-centric Koreatown, the article said. In fact, three of Woori Group’s managers traveled to Los Angeles and Orange County to get inspiration for the Hallyu in Southern California.

“The goal is to promote the area as an ‘unofficial’ Korean cultural district without undermining the historical ties of Black and Japanese American communities,” said Jinhyup Song, marketing manager of Woori Group, told the publication.

Rich Hashimoto, president of the Japantown Merchant Association, said he welcomes more businesses and diverse Asian restaurants to the neighborhood.

Slider Wang, a Chinese immigrant born in South Korea who has owned the Korean Chinese restaurant San Wang for 46 years, said, “In recent years, we have seen an increase in multiracial customers, not just Korean or Chinese,” but he doubted that Koreatown would grow due to the decline in immigration.

According to the 2021 American Community Survey (ACS) statistics released by the federal Census Bureau, 12,018 Korean Americans were living in San Francisco County.

BY NICOLE CHANG, HOONSIK WOO [chang.nicole@koreadaily.com]