Meet Koreatown’s Millennial Mobilizer: Mike Pak

September 21, 2016

In Los Angeles, if you take one unexpected turn on your route, you will likely find yourself in a whole new community. From Little Ethiopia to Tehrangeles, LA certainly does not lack in diversity. But one particular region that has been thriving since the 1920’s has had a keen ability to evolve with the times, and is currently undergoing another fresh revival of its own.

Welcome to Korea Town:

Before the 1960’s influx of Korean immigrants took to this charming neighborhood nestled in the outskirts of downtown Los Angeles, the region already possessed a legacy of its own. The iconic Ambassador Hotel hosted the Academy Awards several times, and unfortunately, also hosted the location where the late Democratic Presidential Candidate, Robert Kennedy Jr. would be assassinated. With so much history, the region has experienced great highs and great lows. But with the ever-growing impact of social media, this underrated community is reemerging with a “steez” (‘style + ease’ for the unurbanized), of its own.

Ktown is not just home to the many Koreans and descendants who initially fled due to the civil conflict of North and South Korea. Today, it is now engaging a fresh and fledgling movement of millennials, led by Korean-American, Michael Pak. The energetic spirit of Ktown is captured accessibly on the well known Instagram handle, @koreatown.

Pak, who’s creative hustle has been highlighted by Nike, owned the handle, and unbeknownst to him, would later create a lifestyle and brand around those two words.

“At the time, I created the handle simply because I lived in Koreatown, but one day it struck me, the many ideas of how much I could really do with that name.”

And so with an ambitious and creative drive, Pak used the power of social media to both mobilize and revitalize an entire community.

“Koreatown always had a charm of its own, but I wanted to bring back that alluring style that would attract individuals of all backgrounds to experience all of the dope things Korean culture has to offer,” said Pak.

Pak did that, and much more. From partnering with Fatburger to create a “Koreanized” meal, to teaming up with Reebok in developing the “Koreatown Run Club” his goal is to welcome individuals of all backgrounds to enjoy all that Ktown has to offer, and eventually connect the many Koreatown communities across the country.

Promoting this unique angle of diversity may seem like a no brainer for Pak, who is a resident of Ktown, but this bold step was far from easy.

“Korean parents are all about discipline, they wanted to see me go into politics, become a doctor, or work at a Fortune 500 company. As much as I appreciated their great expectations for me, that can be very damaging to a creative mind.”

Pak references the generation gap and “old school mentality” of his parents as both the hurdle and fuel that has shaped his current success and endeavors.

“My parents came to the States and sacrificed so much just so my sister and I could have a better life. Everyday I question if I followed the right path. But when I see and meet the incredible people that are now more connected simply through the Koreatown movement, it all becomes worth it to me.”

Keep up with the growing pulse of LA’s Ktown via Instagram: @koreatown.


~Written by Loureen Ayyoub, @la_loureen.