How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A new night market kicks off in Koreatown

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It’s been two years since the 626 Night Market started out in Pasadena, drawing regular crowds of foodie fans since. This weekend, Koreatown is getting in on the action with its own night market – one with a distinctly Koreatown vibe. 

The KTown Night Market debuts at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex starting Friday evening and runs through Saturday. Organizers say it’s inspired by the night markets that are a centuries-old tradition throughout Asia – and by the local success of the 626 Night Market, an unrelated event in the San Gabriel Valley that's done booming business since 2012.

RELATED: The 626 Night Market branches out beyond the San Gabriel Valley
Ben Kang, one of the organizers of the KTown market, hopes this event will draw similar crowds to Koreatown and its businesses. But in keeping with Koreatown’s status as a local pop culture epicenter, food will be just part of the draw.

“We're calling it the KTown Coachella," Kang said. "But also there's going to be a lot of great food, which I don't think Coachella has."
There will be lots of food: Some 40 booths and trucks, with offerings ranging from staples like Korean barbecue to foodie food items, like ramen burgers and hot sauce that's billed as the “Mexican Sriracha.”
But it’s the KTown-chella aspect that’s makes this night market distinctly Koreatown. Some 30 hip-hop and K-pop performers will take stage between Friday and Saturday nights, including rising stars like L.A.-raised Korean American rapper Dumbfoundead and K-pop artists Z.Hera and Lydia Paek.

Up in the San Gabriel Valley, Aileen Xu of 626 Night Market says she doesn’t blame the KTown organizers for trying their hand at the night market business.

“I think it was inevitable that other people would join in," Xu said. "There was a San Diego night market, and I’ve been hearing from a lot of friends that want to start night markets all over America, all over the U.S. actually, just because it’s a huge trend.”

She says the 626 events are now drawing upwards of 200 vendors, and in the coming months will expand  into Orange County and downtown LA.

Xu says that this weekend, though, she'll be driving down to Koreatown to check out the offerings.

Find a map and lists of performers and vendors for KTown Night Market here.

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