Date of Thesis

Spring 2021


In Koreatown, Los Angeles, one of the largest centers of Korean immigrants in the Western hemisphere, restaurant owners are constantly creating new forms of Korean cuisine that both challenge and preserve traditional methods of Korean culinary methods. Based on participant observation and semi-structured interviews conducted in Koreatown, Los Angeles in December 2020, I examine how Korean restaurant owners are navigating the current food scene while also maintaining their ethnic identity in a globalized landscape such as Los Angeles. I conceptualize the idea of a “twist” which can be understood as components of fusion food that allow Korean restaurant owners to cultivate and preserve their culture while simultaneously creating a new type of Korean cuisine. This study demonstrates how Korean fusion exists within a larger web of complex relationships between Korean food and Korean music within migrant communities like Koreatown. I also explore how these global food practices are intertwined with music in a dialectical manner. Restaurant owners effectively utilize popular Korean media, specifically Korean Pop (K-Pop) music, to maintain their ethnic and cultural background. More importantly, K-Pop has become a crucial vessel through which restaurant owners commodify Korean culture in a holistic Korean dining experience. This research contributes to the anthropological study of foodways by reevaluating the act of consuming global culture in a local context through reimagined forms of fusion food.


Los Angeles, kimchi, K-Pop, migrant, ethnic identity

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



Second Major


First Advisor

Clare Sammells

Second Advisor

Anthony Stewart