Linguistic Landscape of Koreatown

Koreatown, NY

Koreatown is an area filled with Korean food and Korean-influenced culture shops, such as bbq, restaurants, bars, and karaoke. Lately, what has made Koreatown famous and traffic jams are the popularity of k-pop, Korean fashion, and Korean beauty. This sparked the interest of consumers to find out more about Korean culture. The selling pattern we see in Korea Town is that most businesses have the word ‘Korea’ in it or something related to Korea.

Koreatown is located in Midtown Manhattan located on West 32nd Street and 6th Avenue and Broadway, near Greeley Square. It is also part of the Garment District with the zipcode of 10001. It is an area where stores and shops are closed to each other, making it very convenient for people without cars. For that reason, many people choose to walk or take to their destinations. On the other side, driving is inconvenient and expensive due to the lack of parking space and increase in the price of parking meters compared to less popular areas. While walking, a street sign says Korea Way with a Korean translation under it saying “Korea Town” to notify pedestrians that they’ve reached Korean Town.  The area’s housing was mostly built before 1939, 2000-2009, and 2010 or later. Due to its high price of living, most people choose to rent as data shows that 74.82% of homes are owner-occupied and 74.82% renter occupied. The dominant race of the population is white and Asian at 46.1% and 45.5%. This contributed to Asians like Koreans starting their community there.


There are 1822 residents in Koreatown. The male population of 902 people and the female population of 919 people which are mostly US-born citizens of 65.09%. The median age is 35 years old. As for the working population, 95.4% are white collar. Koreatown has an average annual income of $170,361 with a median of $116,574 per year. The majority work in private companies (72.95%) while the rest work as self employees (13.4%), private companies (72.95%), governmental workers (5.97%), and not-for-profit companies (7.68%).

In Koreatown, we notice restaurants because when consumers are curious about another culture, the first thing that comes to mind is their food. Those businesses have mostly Korean and English signs to attract Korean and English-speaking people. However, there are some Japanese and Chinese characters. There are very few Japanese restaurants, and some with Chinese translations under them to attract other Asian background consumers or consumers that would want to try food other than Korean food. Despite that, there are numerous Korean BBQ restaurants, as the experience is enjoyable when you cook your meat with your friends and family. This gives them complete control of what meat the consumers want to eat and how the meat is cooked to ensure its quality. However, the price of Korean BBQ may be high for average consumers. That is why there are restaurants such as quick grab-and-go lunch stores, similarly to 7-eleven’s pre-made sandwiches. Also, a food market for a quick pay first and grab your meal to seat anywhere type of offer. Those restaurants do not require tipping or services as customers make the payment before eating the meal.


In Koreatown, there are a lot of bubble tea stores and dessert spots. For example, the bakery Paris Baguette and Tous Les Jours has roots in South Korea. However, most people assume that they’re from France as the bakery’s name has French words and a place in France. Those bakery coordinates with Koreatown as the main interest in Korean culture.

Besides food options for average consumers, Koreatown has a city nightlife to offer. There are many karaoke bars, nightclubs, and billiards in Korea Town that open past midnight. Koreatown nightlife has different drinks to offer. The most popular Korean alcohol beverage is Soju. As we can see that Soju is emphasized for happy hour, and restaurants also have Soju listed individually. To gain more business, some restaurants open past midnight or even 24 hours. That being the case where people may be looking for food after their party is over. Again, Korean and English words are on the signs to capture consumers.


Furthermore, some shops are influenced by the Korean entertainment industry. This draws back to 2012 as the song “Gangnam Style ” from Korea made a hit in the world. It made a noise for the world to draw attention to the Korean culture. On top of that, lately, the band BTS has made it to the top of the Billboard 200, creating even more noise and shedding brighter light on Korean culture. Aside from the band BTS, a female band called Blackpink is very famous across the world. Speaking of that, this influenced Koreatown to make a profit off of band posters and albums. As we can see, bookstores use the name “Korean Books & K-Pop Music” to attract customers. Also, book cover pages and advertisements use Korean idols to
promote fans’ purchases.

Similarly, Korean culture affects the beauty industry as the trend focuses on skin first, and cosmetics second. Meaning, that Korean prefer their skin to be radiant and reflective from using skincare products.  As a result, in Koreatown, there are skincare stores and posters to promote this idea. Meanwhile, there are discount posters with only skincare products, although the brand Nature Republic does carry cosmetic lines.