Koreatown, Fort Lee
Koreatown, Fort Lee, or Fort Lee Koreatown (Hangul: 포트 리 코리아타운), in the borough of Fort Lee, 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.
Koreatown, Fort Lee
포트 리 코리아타운
Fort Lee Koreatown
Main Street and Lemoine Avenue in Fort Lee Koreatown
|Country||United States of America|
|Agglomeration||New York City Metropolitan Area|
The core of this Bergen County Koreatown itself is centered at the intersection of Main Street and Lemoine Avenue and has now extended northward through Sylvan Avenue in the borough of Englewood Cliffs. However, the periphery of Koreatown continues to expand rapidly in all directions. Notably, this entire entity is mutually exclusive of the other significant Bergen County Koreatown which has formed in the nearby borough of Palisades Park, the latter being the home of both the highest Korean-American density and percentage of any municipality in the United States.
A small number of Korean immigrants have resided the area as early as the 1970s. In the 1990s, a continuous stream of Korean immigrants emerged into Fort Lee 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 130 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, banking institutions, offices, electronics vendors, apparel boutiques, and other commercial enterprises.
Comfort women controversyEdit
Various Korean American groups could not reach consensus on the design and wording for a monument in Fort Lee as of early April 2013 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. In May 2012, borough officials in neighboring Palisades Park rejected requests by two diplomatic delegations from Japan to remove such a monument from a public park, a brass plaque on a block of stone, dedicated in 2010; days later, a South Korean delegation had endorsed Palisades Park's decision. 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. On May 23, 2018, a comfort women memorial was installed in Constitution Park in Fort Lee, NJ. Youth Council of Fort Lee, a student organization led by Korean American high school students in Fort Lee designed the memorial.
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 nearby 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; while Fort Lee has nearly as many Koreans by absolute numbers, at 8,318, representing 23.5% of its 2010 population. 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.
Bergen County Korean demographics, 2010Edit
The top ten municipalities in the United States as ranked by Korean American percentage of overall population in 2010 are illustrated in the following table:
|1||Palisades Park||Bergen County||New Jersey||51.5%|
|2||Leonia||Bergen County||New Jersey||26.5%|
|3||Ridgefield||Bergen County||New Jersey||25.7%|
|4||Fort Lee (포트 리)||Bergen County (버건 군)||New Jersey (뉴저지 주)||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%|
Fort Lee Koreatown lies at the northern edge of the humid subtropical climate zone, according to the Köppen climate classification, similarly to Seoul, South Korea; as Bergen County's coldest month (January) averages above 26.6 °F. . In part due to its coastal location and relatively low elevation at approximately 300 feet above sea level, its climate is milder than in New Jersey counties further inland such as Sussex County. Koreatown has a moderately sunny climate, averaging between 2,400 and 2,800 hours of sunshine annually.
Koreatown is served by an extensive transportation network. Interstate 95, U.S. Route 46, and New Jersey Route 4 all provide access to Main Street and Lemoine Avenue; New Jersey Route 63 and County Route 501 connect Fort Lee Koreatown to Palisades Park Koreatown; while Interstate 80, the New Jersey Turnpike, and U.S. Route 1/9 also serve the vicinity. The George Washington Bridge, the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge, in turn provides access to Fort Lee Koreatown from Manhattan in New York City. Additionally, New Jersey Transit Bus #156 and New Jersey Transit Bus #158 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, a news organization based in Seoul, carries a significant presence in Fort Lee Koreatown. The Record of Bergen County, published by North Jersey Media Group, is also ubiquitously available in Koreatown.
The increasing economic clout of the Fort Lee 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. LG Electronics broke ground on its new US$300 million Englewood Cliffs headquarters on February 7, 2017, to be completed in late 2019.
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 Central Municipal Court judgeship in nearby 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. As of May 2014, Korean Americans had garnered at least four borough council seats in Bergen County. In November 2016, Ellen Park was elected to the borough council in nearby Englewood Cliffs, while namesake Daniel Park was elected to the borough council in nearby Tenafly in November 2013.
Public high school educationEdit
East Sea controversyEdit
Center of Korean cultureEdit
Koreatown in nearby Palisades Park has emerged as a dominant nexus of Korean American culture, while Fort Lee's Koreatown is also emerging as such. On a broader note, the Chusok Korean Thanksgiving harvest festival has become an annual tradition in Bergen County, attended by several tens of thousands.
Fort Lee Koreatown has become a Korean dining destination. Fort Lee's Korean food has been described as being even better than in Koreatown, Manhattan. Korean Chinese cuisine is now also available in Koreatown, as is misugaru. Korean cafés have become a major cultural element within Fort Lee's Koreatown, not only for the coffee, bingsu (shaved ice), and pastries, but also as communal gathering places.
English is the main language spoken in Koreatown. However, Korean is partially understood and recently Spanish has begun to have more of a presence. Retail signs employing the Hangul (한글) alphabet are seen in some places.
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.
- Korean Americans in New York City
- Korean diaspora
- Koreatown, Palisades Park (팰리세이즈 파크 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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