Koreatown, Palisades Park
Koreatown, Palisades Park, also known as the Palisades Park Koreatown (Hangul:팰리세이즈 파크 코리아타운, shortened to 팔팍), in the borough of Palisades Park, Bergen County, New Jersey, United States, in the New York City Metropolitan Area, is one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic Korean enclaves outside of Korea. Koreans comprise the majority (65%) of the population of the borough of Palisades Park, the municipality with the highest density of ethnic Koreans in the Western Hemisphere and the home of both the highest Korean-American density and percentage of any municipality in the United States. Koreatown, Palisades Park has been nicknamed the Korean village and Koreatown on the Hudson.
Koreatown, Palisades Park
팰리세이즈 파크 코리아타운
Palisades Park Koreatown
Koreatown's Broad Avenue in March 2008
|Country||United States of America|
|Agglomeration||New York City Metropolitan Area|
The core of this Bergen County Koreatown itself extends along Bergen Boulevard to the east, Grand Avenue to the west, and U.S. Route 46 to the south, and has extended northward to Fort Lee Road in the borough of Leonia. However, the periphery of Koreatown continues to expand rapidly in all directions. Broad Avenue represents the heart of Koreatown. Notably, this entire entity is mutually exclusive of the other significant Bergen County Koreatown which has formed in the nearby borough of Fort Lee.
According to The New York Times, until the 1980s, Palisades Park was overwhelmingly Caucasian, a mix of blue-collar workers and professionals whose families originated largely from Italy, Croatia, Germany, and Greece. Its houses were inexpensive, and it had a number of vacant shops and offices. In the 1990s, a continuous stream of Korean immigrants emerged into Palisades Park Koreatown. A substantial number of affluent and educated Korean American professionals have settled in Bergen County since the early 2000s and have founded various academic and communally supportive organizations, including the Korean Parent Partnership Organization at the Bergen County Academies magnet high school and The Korean-American Association of New Jersey. Approximately 120 Korean stores were counted in Koreatown in 2000, a number which has risen significantly since then, featuring restaurants and karaoke (noraebang) bars, grocery markets, education centers and bookstores, financial institutions, offices, electronics vendors, apparel boutiques, and other commercial enterprises.
Comfort women controversyEdit
In May 2012, borough officials in Palisades Park rejected requests by two diplomatic delegations from Japan to remove a small monument from a public park, a brass plaque on a block of stone, dedicated in 2010 to the memory of comfort women, tens of thousands of women and girls, many Korean, who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers during World War II. Days later, a South Korean delegation endorsed the borough's decision. The first Japanese delegation cited apologies offered by their country's government for its involvement as justifying the removal of the monument, while officials from the second delegation controversially claimed that "comfort women were a lie". However, in neighboring Fort Lee, various Korean American groups could not reach consensus on the design and wording for such a monument as of early April 2013. In October 2012, a similar memorial was announced in nearby Hackensack, to be raised behind the Bergen County Courthouse, alongside memorials to the Holocaust, the Irish Potato Famine, and the Armenian Genocide, and was unveiled in March 2013. An annual cross-country bicycle ride dedicated to the honor of the comfort women ends at the Palisades Park memorial, following a penultimate stop at the Bergen County Courthouse memorial in Hackensack.
Sewol ferry tragedy memorial in the United StatesEdit
Dual-naming Broad AvenueEdit
In mid-2015, a proposal was submitted by the Korean-American Association of Palisades Park to the mayor and council of Palisades Park to add a second name to Broad Avenue, such as "Korean Market Street" (Meokjagolmok) or "Korea Way". The mayor's response was to request a public vote on implementing this addition.
Korean language interpreters at civic meetingsEdit
Korean Americans, who compose more than half of the borough's population and have attended town meetings in large numbers, having requested Korean language interpreters to be present at these meetings as of August 2016.
The per capita Korean American population of Bergen County, 6.3% by the 2010 United States Census, (increasing to 6.9% by the 2011 American Community Survey), is the highest of any county in the United States, with all of the nation's top ten municipalities by percentage of Korean population and an absolute total of 56,773 Korean Americans (increasing to 63,247 by the 2011 American Community Survey) living in the county. The concentration of Korean Americans in Palisades Park in turn is the highest of any municipality in the United States, at 52% of the population, enumerating 10,115 residents of Korean ancestry as of the 2010 Census. Palisades Park is often referred to as the Korean village. Along with Koreatowns in New York City and Long Island, the Bergen County Koreatowns serve as the nexus for an overall Korean American population of 218,764 individuals in the Greater New York Combined Statistical Area, the second largest population of ethnic Koreans outside of Korea.
Korean demographics in the vicinity of Palisades Park, 2010Edit
The top ten municipalities in the United States as ranked by Korean American percentage of overall population in 2010 all lie within a fifteen-mile radius of Palisades Park in Bergen County, as illustrated in the following table:
|1||Palisades Park (팰리세이즈 파크)||Bergen County (버건 군)||New Jersey (뉴저지 주)||51.5%|
|2||Leonia||Bergen County||New Jersey||26.5%|
|3||Ridgefield||Bergen County||New Jersey||25.7%|
|4||Fort Lee||Bergen County||New Jersey||23.5%|
|5||Closter||Bergen County||New Jersey||21.2%|
|6||Englewood Cliffs||Bergen County||New Jersey||20.3%|
|7||Norwood||Bergen County||New Jersey||20.1%|
|8||Edgewater||Bergen County||New Jersey||19.6%|
|9||Cresskill||Bergen County||New Jersey||17.8%|
|10||Demarest||Bergen County||New Jersey||17.3%|
Koreatown is served by an extensive transportation network. Interstate 95, U.S. Route 46, and New Jersey Route 4 all provide access to Broad and Grand Avenues; New Jersey Route 63 and County Route 501 connect Palisades Park Koreatown to Fort Lee Koreatown; while Interstate 80, the New Jersey Turnpike, and U.S. Route 1/9 also serve the vicinity. The nearby George Washington Bridge, the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge, in turn provides access to Palisades Park Koreatown from Manhattan in New York City via adjacent Fort Lee, Bergen County. Additionally, New Jersey Transit Bus #127 and New Jersey Transit Bus #166 serve Koreatown with buses to and from New York City. Korean Air and Asiana Airlines provide non-stop flights from Seoul to JFK Airport in the nearby New York City borough of Queens, which also is home to a large and growing Korean community.
The Korea Times, Korea Daily, and the Yonhap News Agency, news organizations based in Seoul, carry a significant presence in Palisades Park Koreatown. The Record of Bergen County, published by North Jersey Media Group, is also ubiquitously available in Koreatown.
The increasing economic clout of Palisades Park's Koreatown and Bergen County's educated and growing professional Korean community is reflected in the prominent Korean multinational corporate presence that continues to evolve in the area. Samsung LG Corp, and Hanjin Shipping, three of Korea's largest chaebols, have developed major American headquarters operations in nearby Bergen County locations.
The political stature of Koreatown appears to be increasing significantly as well. Bergen County's growing Korean community was cited by county executive Kathleen Donovan in the context of attorney Jae Y. Kim's appointment to the Bergen Central Municipal Court judgeship in Hackensack in January 2011. Subsequently in March 2012, leaders from Bergen County's Korean community announced they would form a grassroots political action committee to gain an organized voice in politics in the wake of the rejection of attorney Phillip Kwon to the New Jersey Supreme Court by a state legislative body, and in July 2012, Kwon was appointed instead as deputy general counsel of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Jacqueline Choi was then sworn in as Bergen County's first female Korean American assistant prosecutor in September 2012. According to The Record, the U.S. Census Bureau has determined that the county’s Korean American population has grown enough to warrant language assistance during elections, and Bergen County's Koreans have earned significant political respect.
Jason Kim was serving as deputy mayor of the borough of Palisades Park in May 2012. As of May 2014, Korean Americans had garnered at least four borough council seats in Bergen County. In July 2015, Shawn M. Lee was sworn in as Palisades Park's first Korean-American police sergeant and Gina S. Kim was sworn in as the borough's first municipal clerk, reflecting the growing political influence of the Korean American population in Palisades Park. In November 2015, Palisades Park hired two more Korean-speaking police officers, bringing the total to four. In January 2019, Christopher Chung was sworn in as the first Korean-American mayor of Palisades Park.
Public high school educationEdit
Palisades Park High School and the highly ranked Bergen County Academies magnet public high school both serve the residents of Palisades Park Koreatown. Connie S. Hwang and Chong H. Kim were elected to three-year terms on the Palisades Park School Board in 2015, the latter an incumbent.
East Sea controversyEdit
Center of Korean cultureEdit
Koreatown in Palisades Park has emerged as a dominant nexus of Korean American culture. The Palisades Park Senior Citizens Center provides a popular gathering place where even Korean grandmothers were noted to follow the dance trend of the worldwide viral hit Gangnam Style by South Korean "K-pop" rapper Psy in 2012. Palisades Park High School has hosted national Kumdo martial arts tournaments. On a broader note, the Chusok Korean Thanksgiving harvest festival has become an annual tradition in Bergen County, attended by several tens of thousands. A jjimjilbang (찜질방) offers saunas and bibimbap (비빔밥) in Palisades Park's Koreatown.
Broad Avenue in Koreatown has been referred to as a "Korean food walk of fame", with diverse offerings. Palisades Park Koreatown now incorporates the highest concentration of Korean restaurants within a one-mile radius in the United States, and Broad Avenue has evolved into a Korean dessert destination as well. Korean Chinese cuisine is now also available in Koreatown, as is misugaru (미숫가루). Bulgogi (불고기) and galbi (갈비) are staples on Broad Avenue in the Palisades Park Koreatown. Korean cafés have become a major cultural element within Palisades Park's Koreatown, not only for the coffee, bingsu (shaved ice), and pastries, but also as communal gathering places.
Korean and English are both spoken prevalently in Koreatown. Korean is spoken at home by more than half of the residents of Palisades Park and nearby Englewood Cliffs, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released in 2017.  Retail signs employing the Hangul (한글) alphabet are ubiquitous. Additionally, as of 2010, more than 15 percent of Palisades Park’s residents speak Spanish.
Holy Name Medical Center (affiliated with the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System), Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, and Hackensack University Medical Center serve as medical centers providing Palisades Park Koreatown as well as surrounding communities with comprehensive medical care services. Holy Name Medical Center in nearby Teaneck, New Jersey has undertaken an ambitious effort to provide comprehensive health care services to underinsured and uninsured Korean patients from a wide area with its growing Korean Medical Program.
A diverse array of social services such as the Korean-American Senior Citizens Association Of New Jersey, Inc., geared toward assisting recent as well as established Korean immigrants, is readily available in Koreatown.
- Korean Americans in New York City
- Korean diaspora
- Koreatown, Fort Lee (포트 리 코리아타운)
- Koreatown, Manhattan (맨해튼 코리아타운)
- Koreatown, Long Island (롱 아일랜드 코리아타운)
- Koreatown, Philadelphia (필라델피아 한국 도시)
- Koreatown (코리아타운)
- List of U.S. cities with significant Korean-American populations
- List of Korea-related topics
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