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Maryland’s first lady backs Ellicott City ‘Koreatown’ plan

Yumi Hogan speaks Tuesday, March 12, 2019, inside Honey Pig Restaurant in Ellicott City. (The Daily Record / Adam Bednar)

Yumi Hogan speaks Tuesday, March 12, 2019, inside the Honey Pig Restaurant in Ellicott City. (The Daily Record / Adam Bednar)

Supporters of creating a “Koreatown” in Ellicott City, such as Maryland first lady Yumi Hogan, plan to pursue that designation for a five-mile stretch along Route 40 in Howard County.

Hogan, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, and Dong-gi Kim, counsul general of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, on Tuesday discussed their goal to classify a portion of the area as a Koreatown. Backers touted the potential status as an economic development tool that lures significant tourism to the suburban community.

“This is a great economic opportunity, not only for tourism, but to really grow businesses here. Not only have we had an explosion of the Korean population, but I think in the interest in Korean culture, Korean food, and frankly, in Howard County we embrace not only diversity but inclusion and opportunity, and Koreatown is just another example of that,” Ball said.

The Ellicott City area features one of the densest Korean-American populations in Maryland. Roughly 12,000 residents of that heritage live in Howard County. Korean Americans, according to census data estimates, represent 24 percent of Ellicott City’s population.

There’s also a significant number of businesses owned by Korean-Americans in the Ellicott City area. There are, according to the state, 166 businesses owned by residents of Korean descent on Route 40.

Dong-gi Kim, Consul General of South Korea, left, sits with First Lady Yumi Hogan as Howard County Executive Calvin Ball speaks on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Honey Pig restaurant in Ellicott City. (The Daily Record / Adam Bednar)

Dong-gi Kim, consul general of South Korea, left, sits with First Lady Yumi Hogan as Howard County Executive Calvin Ball speaks on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at the Honey Pig restaurant in Ellicott City. (The Daily Record / Adam Bednar)

A committee is being formed to guide the formation of a Koreatown, making suggestions on a variety of issues, including what a local Koreatown may look like. Yumi Hogan showed photos of locations in other cities that received specific designations, such as Chinatown in San Francisco or Koreatown in Los Angeles, as possible examples of the branding the committee will consider.

The plan will require a partnership between the state, county, private businesses and even South Korea to come to fruition. There’s no set timeline for when such a designation may happen, but Yumi Hogan said she hopes it’s accomplished before her husband, who won election to his final four year-term in 2018, leaves office.

“This is our brainstorming (session) today,” Yumi Hogan, who is of Korean heritage, said during an announcement at the Honey Pig Restaurant.

Gov. Larry Hogan, in late 2016, designated a five-mile stretch of Route 40 as Korea Way. It’s expected the Koreatown designation would cover the same area.

Dong-gi Kim, the counsul general, said the designation of a Koreatown would help fulfill the promise of America, which includes passing on cultural heritages to future generations.

 


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