KSI Opening Ceremony [Image by King Sejong Institute Foundation]

Cultural and Economic Connections Between Korea and Los Angeles Deepen


On September 13th, The King Sejong Institute Center opened its new head office in Los Angeles. This office is the latest of 26 King Sejong Institutes in the Americas. The King Sejong Institute — named after King Sejong who invented the Korean alphabet — was established by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism in 2007 to teach Korean language and culture to non-native speakers. Now there are 172 King Sejong Institutes in 56 countries, including 10 in the United States.

In the current fall semester, the King Sejong Institute Center provides 7 classes divided into 4 levels. Thanks to the new Center, people in Los Angeles now have more opportunities to learn Korean for professional or personal interests than before. By developing curriculums and designing diverse cultural programs, the Center will strive to introduce Korean language and culture throughout the United States. Including the Center, four King Sejong Institutes out of the 10 in the United States are located in Southern California. California has the largest Korean community of any state, with about 525,400 Korean Americans and more than 10,000 Korean students.

Also, the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation held the 2018 K-Food Fair with the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Los Angeles from September 5th to 6th. Focusing on the business-to-business commerce, the event was held to introduce a wide range of Korean local foods to the US market. The Fair included 40 Korean food exporters and 100 local buyers from the Americas. The host offered a seminar for handling the Food Safety Modernization Act and installed booths to promote on-trend Korean food. Various products such as Korean spicy sauce and home meal replacements were exhibited during the fair so that the local buyers could taste them.

The 2018 K-Food Fair is expected to encourage Korean investment in the US food industry. Korea invested $2.3 billion in California from 2003 to 2017, creating 8,000 jobs. Also, according to the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the total value of Korea’s export of agricultural products to the United States by late July in 2018 was $493.3 million, which increased by 8.6% over the same period in the previous year. Continuous cooperation between Korea and the United States can be beneficial to the economies of both countries.

Los Angeles’ effort to build strong partnerships with Asian countries, however, is not limited to Korea. To promote understanding of Japanese culture and society, Japan House Los Angeles held an opening ceremony in Hollywood on August 24th. Sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan House Los Angeles not only organizes exhibitions but also provides various programs such as lectures and workshops about Japanese culture.

Sinae Yu is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a young fellow of Asan Academy. She studied English Language & Literature and Philosophy at Seoul National University.

[Image by King Sejong Institute Foundation]