Local business owners are pushing for the City of Dallas to recognize one northwest neighborhood as “Koreatown.”
The Greater Dallas Korean American Chamber of Commerce is advocating for the City to approve street toppers to be labeled as Koreatown for a stretch of Royal Lane from Luna Road to Harry Hines Boulevard.
“I feel like we should pay homage to the legacy of Koreans that have built Koreatown,” argued John Lee, a board member of the chamber.
“I think it’s significant for us to put that on the map and for people to understand where that is,” he continued.
Lee said the goal is to revitalize the area and ensure the City recognizes its importance.
“Whether that’s with the private sector or through grants — wherever we can get the money,” he added. “We want to start to reinvigorate Koreatown.”
Lee is leading the effort for the City to approve the street toppers and has gained the support of City Councilmember Omar Narvaez, whose district includes the area.
In a November written statement, Narvaez confirmed that his office supports the City officially designating the area as Koreatown.
“The movement to designate a Koreatown District is moving along and we hope to have this designation completed in the first quarter of 2023,” he wrote.
Grace Koo, owner of 9Rabbits Bakery on Royal Lane, has also said she would love to see the area be officially recognized as Koreatown.
“When I first moved to Dallas, this was what I knew was the original Koreatown where the first wave of immigrants came and settled their businesses,” she said. “It’s nice to have and bring some tourism here and galvanize the neighborhood again.”
While the area has become a hub of Korean commerce, it is certainly not exclusive to Koreans.
Rich Kim, who operates Shin Chon Market, the oldest Korean grocery store in Dallas, said that while he has seen fewer Korean customers in recent years, those numbers have been replenished by customers from different backgrounds.
“We aren’t a business just for Korean people anymore, we serve people from other communities and I think we should grow our business little by little by serving customers who are not necessarily Korean,” he said.
However, Kim said he does not believe the City merely designating the area as Koreatown will lead to economic revitalization, adding that people taking action to improve the area is more important.
“If it’s just a matter of calling the area Koreatown, I don’t think anything will happen; it will just be surface-level,” Kim said. “What’s more important is a discussion with stakeholders of what we can do to improve and upgrade the area.”