Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 10.32.55 AM

The Comedy Comedy Festival Kicks Off Aug. 27 in L.A.

by KoreAm Staff

Looking for a good laugh and some excellent storytelling in Los Angeles next week? If your answer is yes, then you should head to The Comedy Comedy Festival: A Comedy Festival!

Produced by Disoriented Comedy, Kollaboration, Angry Asian Man, Tuesday Night Project and The Always Summer Project, the four-day festival encompasses all the major crafts of comedy, including storytelling, stand-up, improvisational comedy and scripted readings. In addition to shows, the festival features workshops, daily mixers and after parties. All of this is happening Thursday, Aug. 27 through Sunday, Aug. 30 in Little Tokyo, the Arts District and Echo Park.

KoreAm Journal and Audrey Magazine are proud to serve as media sponsors for the event and help spotlight both emerging and veteran Asian American comics from Southern California.

The comedy festival will be kicking off with Disoriented Comedy’s monthly storytelling showcase “Family Reunion” next Thursday at at Echoes Under Sunset. The showcase’s lineup of storytellers includes Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man), Naomi Ko, Jason Y. Lee of Jubilee Project, Sean Miura, AJ Rafael, Christine Chen of Wong Fu Productions, Jumakae, Parvesh Cheena and Kulap Vilaysack.

Tickets can be purchased at $15 at the door or online at the Comedy Comedy Festival’s website. Doors open at 8 p.m. for pre-show drinks.


Take a glance at the Comedy Comedy Festival’s schedule below:


Four-day passes for the festival cost $70. Meanwhile, single-day passes cost between $15 and $30. You can purchase tickets and learn more information about the Comedy Comedy Festival here.

See Also


Kollaboration’s EMPOWER Leadership Conference

Get to Know Disoriented Comedy’s Jenny Yang


subscribe button





L.A. Korean Festival to Stage K-pop Song and Dance Battle

The annual K-pop Singing and Dancing Battle is back! This year, contestants can enter for the chance to perform live at the 42nd Los Angeles Korean Festival on Oct. 2, 2015 at Seoul International Park in Koreatown.

The competition celebrates the impact of K-pop all over the world, and this is your chance to show your love for K-pop. Groups have the option of singing, dancing or both, and they will undergo a preliminary round before the final round takes place at the L.A. Korean Festival.


CompChoosing the winner at the 2014 competition. Photo courtesy of Korea Dailyl.

Preliminary Round: Wednesday, Sept. 23 from 6-9 p.m.
Location: Korean Cultural Center (5505 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036)

Final Round: Friday, Oct. 2
Location: Seoul International Park in Koreatown, Los Angeles

Eligibility: The majority of group members should be “non-Korean or Korean with mixed racial background whose native language is not Korean, or a 2nd/3rd generation Korean American born and raised in the U.S., whose native language is not Korean.” All applicants under the age of 18 must have written permission from a parent or legal guardian.

You can register your team through EventBrite. You will receive a confirmation email from the event coordinators with a PDF application attached that includes a waiver form and additional details. All applications must be received by Monday, Sept. 21 at 6 p.m.

For more information, contact Korea Daily at koreadailyevent@gmail.com or call them at (213) 368 2518.


subscribe button


Long-Awaited Korean American National Museum Designs Unveiled

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

The Korean American Museum (KAM) has seen its share of temporary locations, financial struggles and internal strife during its 20-year history in Los Angeles, but things are looking considerably more promising these days.

During a press conference at Koreatown’s Oxford Palace Hotel on Tuesday, the KAM Board formally unveiled the designs for the proposed Korean American National Museum (KANM) in front of optimistic community members and supporters.

lotThe future home of the proposed Korean American National Museum at the corner of Vermont Avenue and 6th Street in L.A.’s Koreatown. (Image via the Korea Times)

“I am very happy to confirm the master plan of the Korean American Museum, a long-cherished dream of Korean Americans,” said Jae Min Chang, Korea Times publisher and KANM Board Co-chair. “This museum will preserve the cultural heritage of Korean Americans and also pass it down to future generations.”

Dr. Myung Ki Hong, a graduate of UCLA’s class of 1959, became involved with museum efforts over 10 years ago, and he saw the museum as a “terrific place” where second and future generations of Korean Americans could find anchors in their identity.

“They can proudly be Korean Americans,” Hong said. “We have heritage and 5,000 years of culture. … We are saying, we are someone and letting the world know what we are made out of.”

Back in October 2012, the then-Korean American Museum signed a 55-year lease with the city of Los Angeles for a permanent location on the corner of Vermont Avenue and Sixth Street, in the heart of Koreatown. L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson inked the deal, which required the museum to begin construction within three years—otherwise, the terms of the land agreement would change. Wesson had no shortage of enthusiasm at being able to reveal the plans for the museum, calling it an example of a “perfect creative partnership.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 5.06.22 PM

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 5.07.13 PM

The plans for the KANM reveal a 45,000-square-foot building. The museum itself will occupy the first two floors of a seven-story mixed-use building and will include two large exhibition spaces, an auditorium, conference rooms, a café/gift shop and a rooftop garden for receptions and even weddings.

The upper five floors of the complex will be reserved for 103 apartment units. All proceeds from the apartment rentals will be used to finance the museum’s operations, which will be handled by a nonprofit organization.

Chang, who also serves as the fundraising committee chair, asked the Korean American community to participate in realizing what he called the “biggest project in 113 years of Korean American immigration.” The KANM board is eyeing the end of this year or early 2016 to begin construction.

“The owner of the museum is you,” Chang said. “As we showed our power months ago in the election of [L.A. City Councilman] David Ryu, if we show our power once again, the fundraising for the Korean American National museum will be a success, and we can see the museum built in a short time.”

The museum was designed by L.A.-based architectural firm Gruen Associates. At the press conference, architect Larry Scholssberg emphasized the building’s simple design, yet flexible functionality.

Earlier this month, the KANM Board also found an architecture design advisor in Eui-Sung Yi, the director of The Now Institute at University of California, Los Angeles and design principal at Morphosis Architects. He has also previously overseen the completion of the Korean Embassy in Tokyo and the Korean Consulate in Guangzhou, China.

Yi told those gathered at the press conference that the museum had a personal connection to his own story of immigrating to the U.S. in 1980 with his mother, who was present at the event.

“The legacy of my growth is personified and represented with the realization of this institution,” said Yi. “The issue of identity, heritage [and] legacy of the Korean diaspora in a foreign context is something that I’ve grappled and dealt with for several, several years.

“My own personal role is to be the design director and adviser, to conjoin the seemingly sometimes opposing but sometimes, I would imagine, highly contextual community and cultural issues.”

building2An exterior rendering of the front of the museum in daylight.

buildingAn exterior rending of the back of the museum at night.

The museum exterior is wrapped in a semi-transparent screen inspired by the Korean flower wall, or kkotdam (꽃담), which was traditionally part of the perimeter wall of homes belonging to the Korean upper class. As for the shadows behind the screen, Yi described them as the mythic image of the Korean landscape transported into the United States.

“The idea was to always have this longing or nostalgia for what Korea was, and is,” Yi explained. “Under the screen are forms that are not very clear, ethereal. They’re romantic; they’re nostalgic. It’s what we all long for as a connection up in the clouds.

“[The building has] symbolic references that deal with identity, that deal with heritage, that deal with a level of discussion that we all hope can transcend beyond generations and generations.”


subscribe button




STUDY: Calling All Korean American Hyun-jin Ryu Fans in L.A.

Los Angeles Dodger Hyun-jin Ryu isn’t expected to be back until next season as he deals with his shoulder injury. But after seeing him play for two solid years, both Dodgers fans and Ryu supporters are hoping a successful rebound.

It certainly has been a privilege to see Ryu tossing his bottomless change-up and following in the Dodger Blue footsteps of Chan Ho Park, and even Hee-seop Choi. If you’ve been a fan of the Korean southpaw, here’s your chance to share your experience.

Na Ri Shin, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is looking for 15 to 20 Korean Americans to give their thoughts on their fandom. The purpose of the study is to explore fans’ ethnic perceptions in relation to Ryu and identify the process of “ethnic identity transition” that has occurred among Korean Americans living in Los Angeles as a result of Ryu joining the Dodgers.

The study involves an in-person interview in either English or Korean, depending on the interviewee’s preference. Participation is voluntary, and no material reward or compensation will be provided.

The interviews will take place during the first and second week of August 2015 in Los Angeles and neighboring districts. Participants may choose locations where they feel comfortable. The interview itself will each take approximately 60 to 75 minutes.


– Potential interviewees must identify themselves as a fan of Hyun-jin Ryu.

– Potential interviewees must have resided in Los Angeles or neighboring districts for at least one year.

– Potential interviewees must identify as a Korean American and/or Korean immigrant.

If you have any questions or would like to apply to be a part of the study, you can contact Na Ri Shim at HyunJinRyu.KorAm.Study@gmail.com.

See Also


August 2013 Cover Story: Dodgers Star Pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu

Chan Ho Park Pays Visit to L.A. Exhibit That Celebrates Diversity in Baseball


subscribe button


Tech Startups Find a Home in Koreatown’s Kolabs

Pictured above: The team behind RushOrder, led by CEO Eric Kim, standing at right. (Photo by Narith Ta)

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

From trendy cafes and late night galbi houses to the family-owned liquor and convenience stores and slew of professional offices offering banking, medical or legal services, the spirit of entrepreneurship is palpable on every boulevard and street corner in Koreatown, Los Angeles.

One not-so-obvious indicator, however, is the growing wave of tech startups led by a new generation of Korean American entrepreneurs. Within L.A.’s dynamic startup scene, this subset is forming a regional tech-trinity that includes Silicon Valley and Seoul. And here, Koreans on both sides of the Pacific have come to find themselves in the middle of the action.

“There is a coalescing of Korean American entrepreneurs and investors,” says Michael Yang, a longtime technology entrepreneur based in L.A. “We’re becoming a network. It’s centered in Koreatown, and it’s generating a lot of energy. A lot of Korean American entrepreneurs are coming here looking for capital, advice and resources to build on their ideas.”

Kolabs 3A view of the Kolabs office space. (Photo by Narith Ta)

One current draw may be Kolabs, a shared workspace and business incubator-accelerator aimed toward nurturing the growth of South Korean and Korean American startups. Opened in March by L.A.-based venture capital firms Strong Ventures and BAM Ventures, the facility is home to RushOrder, a food delivery app that’s cornering the Koreatown restaurant market; 8/Omakase, a made-to-measure online clothing service for style-conscious men; and SnackFever, an online delivery service dispatching packages of tasty Korean snacks; plus other companies expected to join this summer.

The idea for such a facility sprung after Richard Jun, BAM Ventures’ cofounder, reached out late last year to John Nahm, co-founder and managing director at Strong Ventures, about opening a “cool, co-working space” in Koreatown. Its name is derived from an amalgamation of “Korea,” “L.A.,” “BAM” and “Strong,” and, according to Nahm, is also shorthand for “collaboration laboratories.”

“Where things get cooked,” Nahm quips, from Kolabs’ office, located across the street from the trendy Line Hotel in Mid-Wilshire Koreatown. Nahm and Jun, who have backgrounds in corporate finance, are looking to invest not only their capital but provide young entrepreneurs guidance in an open environment.

Kihong Bae & John NahmStrong Ventures co-founders Kihong Bae (left) and John Nahm. (Photo by Narith Ta)
 Jo Jang & David from SnackFeverSnackFever’s Jo Jang (left) and David Chung.

“This is the second or third wave of entrepreneurship,” says Nahm, referring to Korean Americans. “The first immigrants were the ones who really struggled, opening markets, liquor stores, dry cleaners … all kinds of hard labor. The second wave is the lawyers, doctors—all […] reaping from their parents’ labor.

“The second generation was a bit more stability seeking; the third wave is more entrepreneurial—back to sort of what their parents did, but with new media and technology,” he adds.

Cul-Kolabs-JJ15-JohnNahm“This is the second or third wave of entrepreneurship,” says Nahm. (Photo by Narith Ta)

The first thing visitors notice about Kolabs’ nearly 5,000 square-foot space is the lack of walls, as the individual companies don’t have separate offices. They share the entire suite, including the conference area, media studio and lounge commons (complete with a ping pong table), all within working and shouting distance of one another.

While Kolabs is still in its infancy, it shares a similar mission and spirit with other incubators: to provide an open space for startups to break into the ultra-competitive tech industry—but with an emphasis on Korean and Korean American entrepreneurs, in the most developed and concerted effort of its kind outside Korea.

The ability to solicit ideas and exchange ideas has been a valuable asset of Kolabs, says Eric Kim, CEO of RushOrder. The young entrepreneur points to his relationship with Yang, who isn’t formally affiliated with the facility but is using the space as an office while exploring options for his next project.

“His reputation precedes him,” Kim says, of Yang, whose first startup, an e-commerce price comparison shopping website called mySimon, was acquired by CNET for $700 million just two years after launching in 1998. “He’s a serious player in the startup world, and the ability to bounce ideas off him is great. I could just go over and talk to him, and sometimes he’ll just come to us.”

Cul-Kolabs-JJ15-ImpactA view of the Kolabs office space from the lounge area. (Photo by Narith Ta)

This fluid workspace culture is evident from employees’ willingness to trade tips—or just lighthearted moments. At one point during KoreAm’s visit, 8/Omakase co-founder Elbert Song chatted with the staff of SnackFever about shipping options he uses.

“Unless you’re super lucky and your startup is on fire right out of the gate and you have 10, 20 people working with you, one of the things you lose is that camaraderie of an office space,” Song says. “There has to be interaction. There has to be that banter, … water cooler talk. All that stuff is super important.

“For most of us, [we] may be pretty talented, but you have to be put in the right environment in order to succeed,” he adds.

The Kolabs environment takes cues and lessons from both Korean and Western business culture—in particular, the close sense of community and ‘family feeling’ among co-workers. The hierarchical chaebol corporate culture, though, is replaced by one that’s very horizontal.

Cul-Kolabs-JJ15-ElbertSong8/Omakase co-founder Elbert Song (Photo by Narith Ta)

“It’s very informal, everybody is young and the youngest guy’s opinion is heard,” Nahm describes. “Whereas in traditional Korean corporations, the young guy just has to shut up and do whatever the manager says. In that regard, generationally, it’s very different—horizontal, open and fluid. We move fast.”

For South Korean startups, it doesn’t hurt to have the Korean government pouring money into the country’s flourishing tech startup scene. The companies that become successful enough to cast their gaze globally will eye Silicon Valley, according to Nahm. But they often come away discouraged by how competitive it is, he says.

“The venture capitalists and tech players, they’ll be telling Korean companies, ‘Stop coming,’ Nahm says. “‘[If] you come here, you’ll just get decimated. Just do well in Korea,’ they say. ‘If you want to go global, maybe think of China, Southeast Asia.’”

The attitude is different in Los Angeles, whose Koreatown base provides an automatic sense of familiarity and cultural support, according to Nahm. “Even among the non-tech community, they’re behind [Korean entrepreneurs] because they want to see our own succeeding and prospering,” he says. “I think that support is even stronger here than in Korea.”

“They come here to L.A. [where they hear] a lot of success stories,” Nahm adds, of these entrepreneurs. “So the atmosphere [they expect] is, ‘Come here, we’ll support you and try to help. Even if we fail, let’s at least try together.’”


This article was published in the June/July 2015 issue of KoreAm. Subscribetoday! To purchase a single issue copy of the June/July issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).

subscribe button


David Ryu Sworn In As L.A.’s First Korean American City Councilman

Above image: David Ryu celebrates his May 19 victory.


by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Accompanied by his parents and civic leaders, David Ryu was officially sworn in on Sunday in front of Los Angeles City Hall. The oath of office was administered by former L.A. County Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke, who Ryu once worked for as an aide years ago.

“I am humbled to be the first Korean American City Council member and the first Asian American to stand here in a generation,” Ryu, 39, said to hundreds of supporters and civic leaders gathered on the south lawn. “I am proud to lead my community through these doors to take our rightful place sharing in the leadership of Los Angeles.”

Ryu also thanked his family members who had flown in from Korea to attend the ceremony. In particular, he called his grandmother, the first from his family to immigrate to the U.S. and become a citizen, his “hero and inspiration.”

On May 19, Ryu beat opponent Carolyn Ramsay, who had been supported by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the 14 other councilmembers, by 8 percentage points in the general election to win the seat for District 4. The lobster-shaped area stretches from Sherman Oaks into Silverlake and portions of Hollywood and Koreatown—all in all, about 7.4 percent Asian American. In his speech, Ryu did note that he didn’t ride on the backs of just Asian American voters.

“I was not chosen because of my ethnic heritage,” he said. “I was chosen because I made the commitment to the people of the 4th [District] to put our neighborhoods first.”

Ryu ran against Ramsay emphasizing his non-establishment ties and status as an “outsider” to city council politics, promising to be more transparent with his policies. Ramsay formerly served as chief of staff to the outgoing 14-year incumbent, Tommy LaBonge, who had termed out.

See Also

David Ryu Makes History with Decisive L.A. City Council Win

David Ryu Sets Sights on City Council Seat


Featured image via David Ryu/Twitter

subscribe button


Chef Roy Choi Dishes on L.A. Menu Exhibit

Pictured above: Ships Coffee Shop, 1971. (Image courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library)



Can the history of a city be told through its restaurant menus? Visitors to the Los Angeles Public Library may ask themselves this question as they feast their eyes on a rare collection of old menus, now on display at the Central Library through November 13.

The exhibit, “To Live and Dine in L.A.,” shares the same name with a book published in partnership with Angel City Press, which includes a foreword by L.A.-based chef and restaurateur Roy Choi.

Written by Josh Kun, an author and associate professor of communication at the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California, To Live and Dine in L.A. explores the history, urban growth and social stratification of Los Angeles through food menus spanning as far back as 1875 to the 1980s.

Kelbo_Desserts-LDLAKelbo’s (1950s)

The collection of menus is the result of a decades-long effort that began when two LAPL librarians began collecting menus in the 1980s; today, the library has amassed around 15,000 menus. Choi was one of those who helped curate the collection of roughly 200 menus for the book and exhibit.

“The menus we saw told us a story, but what were the ones missing telling us?” he told KoreAm by email—adding of the collection, “Expect to think about the haves and have-nots and expect to sit and experience the growth of a city with all its bumps and bruises and how that’s a reflection of today as well.”


Included in the collection are menus from the likes of such ritzy restaurants as Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, which was branded as “Californian Cuisine” in 1981, with its offerings of crab ravioli and Chinese-style duck breast. Conspicuously absent, however, are menus catering to California’s working class: After all, food trucks that stopped outside construction sites or lunchrooms had no handheld menus, opting to write food items on boards or not having them written at all.

Choi told KoreAm that the disparity between the rich and poor reflected in these sampling of menus reveals other aspects of the city’s history. “I found the racial propaganda surprising,” he said.

Indeed, one featured menu is from the Golden Pagoda restaurant, whose cover artwork appeals to “Western stereotypes of Asian culture,” Kun writes in the book. The 1943 menu depicts an image of a pagoda structure and rickshaw driver and uses a font associated with traditional Asian-style calligraphy brushstrokes.

GoldenPagoda_MenuFront-LDLApg159Golden Pagoda (1943)

In Choi’s foreword for To Live and Dine in L.A., he writes that most places he grew up eating in didn’t have menus—such as his home, burger stands and delis. (Fans of the chef may recall he wrote about his youth and L.A.’s food culture in his 2013 memoir, L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food.)

While most people may know Choi as the founder of gourmet Korean taco truck, Kogi, the Angeleno is not only a seasoned chef but also an activist, as he applies his culinary background to help address the still-existent social disparity of food accessibility in L.A.

Since opening in 2013, Choi’s South Central L.A. restaurant, 3 Worlds Café, has partnered with nearby Jefferson High School to sell healthy, all-fruit smoothies, coffee and other items. The mission of the project is to create equitable access to healthy food and foster the development of young entrepreneurs. Choi is also preparing to open his fast food restaurant, loco’l, which will aim to serve healthier and affordable food options in Watts.

When asked what inspired the project, Choi replied, “They are my friends and family. I’m here to feed. That’s all. And I give a f—.”


The Redwood House (1945) 

Recognizing that it’s a privilege to be able to dictate what is on the menu today, Choi wants those who visit the exhibit or pick up the book to get to know L.A. better, warts and all.

“You can see L.A., right before your eyes, grow through these menus and ask questions about what is and was and what is and isn’t,” he said.

For more information on To Live and Dine in L.A., visit its official website.


With additional reporting by the Associated Press. All images courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library.

See Also


[VIDEO] A Conversation with Chefs Corey Lee and Roy Choi

Roy Choi’s loco’l Indiegogo Campaign Meets 100K Goal 

subscribe button


‘My Love, Don’t Cross That River’ Wins Documentary Award at L.A. Film Fest


by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Here’s one more reason to watch possibly the most popular South Korean documentary of 2015: My Love, Don’t Cross That River and its director, Jin Mo-young, recently won the Documentary Award at the 21st Annual Los Angeles Film Festival.


On Wednesday, the L.A. Film Fest announced the winners of this year’s festival at the Awards Cocktail Reception. Jury awards were given for U.S. Fiction, World Fiction, Documentary, Zeitgeist, LA Muse and Nightfall, as well as Best Short Fiction and Best Short Documentary. Audience awards went to Best Fiction Feature Film, Best Documentary Feature Film, Best Short Film and Best Web Series.

My Love, which follows an elderly South Korean couple known as the “100-year-old lovebirds,” made its North American premiere at the L.A. Film Fest this past weekend. The documentary captures the peaceful life of a 98-year-old husband and 89-year-old wife in their mountain village home in the Gangwon province until the husband passes away. Since its premiere in South Korea, the film has broken domestic box office records.

Other Asian American filmmakers to garner festival awards included Takeshi Fukunaga, who won the U.S. Fiction Award for Out of My Hand, and Viet Nguyen, who won the inaugural Nightfall Award for independent filmmakers for Crush the Skull.

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 6.12.58 PM

Among short films, the Best Short Fiction honor when to Drama, directed by Tian Guan, and the Shorts Jury gave a special mention to actress Kaori Momoi for her role in Oh Lucy!, directed by Atsuko Hirayanagi.

You can check out the full press release for the L.A. Film Festival Jury Award winners here.


subscribe button