London is home to Europe’s biggest community of Koreans, but unlike super-central Chinatown, Koreatown is an understated south-western suburb. As many as 20,000 Koreans live in New Malden. There’s even a North Korean population of around 600, with a residents’ association and a newspaper that opposes the Pyongyang government. But why are there so many Koreans here? It’s simple: big businesses like Samsung and the original South Korean embassy were based here for a while. Koreans sure like convenience!
We’re not confined to KT postcodes, though. You can find K-this and K-that all over London, be it restaurants, supermarkets or even K-pop dance classes. We call it the Korean Wave! As a Korean Londoner, I enjoy a multicultural lifestyle, but when I want to feel close to home, these are the places that give comfort to my soul – and my tummy. Yoojin Kim. Interview by James FitzGerald
Did you know? You may notice metal chopsticks in Korean restaurants – a unique tradition. The story goes that the metal helped the ancient nobility to detect poison in their food.
Yoojin’s guide to Korean London
Korean cuisine isn’t all about barbecue-it-yourself meat. Our Buddhist culture means vegetarian food is key, and one of my top spots for veggie bibimbap and namul is Arang in Golden Square.
If you’re still craving the full K-BBQ experience, get down to New Malden’s Kimchi Village, a buffet place with a queue that often stretches out the door.
In New Malden you can also book a noraebang (Seoul-style private karaoke booth) or get persimmon vinegar and other groceries unfamiliar to Brits at the H Mart superstore.
The Korean Cultural Centre organises big events as well as daily activities, from taekwondo classes to bojagi and jogakbo crafts, which I teach.
I can’t wait to see ‘Bluebeard’ with Jo Jin-woong, star of ‘The Handmaiden’, at the Korean Film Festival in October.
The K-Music Festival begins on September 15. If you thought our only style was Gangnam, think again.
The best of Korean London, according to you
‘Seoul Bakery for a genuine feel and taste of Korea.’ @scarletseas via Twitter
‘Dotori is the best in north London. The spicy stew with tofu and seafood is my favourite.’ Naomi I via Facebook
‘Assa in Soho is the best: so delicious and yet not expensive at all. There are always lots of Koreans there.’ Nemui N via timeout.com