In her new book, Koreatown, Los Angeles, Shelley Sang-Hee Lee offers a long-overdue examination of the history and evolution of Los Angeles’s Koreatown, one of the first major hubs of Korean migration to the United States in the years after 1965. Lee sets the story of Korean immigration, settlement, and place-making against the backdrop of late twentieth-century Los Angeles, showing how deeply intertwined Koreatown was—and continues to be—with the larger economic, social, and political shifts that marked this tumultuous period.

Central to Lee’s argument is the notion of Koreatown as both a symbol and a place. As Lee describes in the book’s first two chapters, the idea of Koreatown emerged from the desires of Korean immigrant entrepreneurs to build a permanent anchor in Los Angeles. Arriving in the United States after experiencing decades of colonialism, war, and economic instability, they invested in real estate and small business ownership as...

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