The beat and rhythm of traditional Korean drums and gongs resounded at the intersection of Royal Lane and Harry Hines Boulevard during Friday afternoon’s ceremony to unveil new street signs that recognize the Korean American community.
Kyong Soon Kim, who directed the traditional Korean drumming performance at the Arirang Texas Group, said she believes Friday leaves a mark on the city’s history.
“Good; that’s so good,” Kim said in Korean. “This is such an important event and I’m so proud that we were able to perform here today and share our culture.”
Elected officials who attended the opening ceremony, including Councilman Omar Narvaez, announced additional plans for Koreatown recognition, including an appointment by the State Legislature.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Republic of Korea Consulate in Dallas, community and business leaders, and dozens of representatives of the Korean American community.
Seung Ju-ryo, president of the Korean Society of Dallas, said Friday — Korean America Day and the 120th anniversary of the arrival of the first immigrants from the East Asian country in the US — was the right day to open. The day was proclaimed by President George W. Bush in 2003.
She praised the business leaders and community members who have invested in Dallas Koreatown for decades.
“I hope that through these efforts, the community in the Dallas area will be able to gain more power and continue to grow.” Ryo said in Korean.
Charles Park, a longtime supporter of the Korean American community in North Texas, said a prayer at a dinner reception after the ceremony at Korea House, a restaurant considered by many to be the anchor of Koreatown.
Park called the day a “joyful moment”.
“Father, we ask for your blessing on every person at this table and that the Royal Lane Koreatown community be full of prosperity, harmony, and happiness,” Park said during his prayer.
The Korean American Chamber of Greater Dallas has led efforts to officially designate Koreatown by the City of Dallas, which will be in part in the form of street toppers on the 1.6-mile stretch of Royal Lane. The organization is in the process of getting street topper designs approved by the city.
Narvaez, whose office worked with the Dallas Korean-American Chamber to organize the ceremony, called the new signage a “first step” in increasing the city’s visibility of the area as Koreatown. He also announced that Dallas Area Rapid Transit would work to add signs to the Royal Lane station to signify the Koreatown area.
“We still have a lot to do, so I need you all to keep working with me,” Narvaez said. “We need to raise some money, but today we’re talking about the city of Dallas.”
State Rep. Rafael Anchia, Dallas, who attended Friday’s ceremony, said his office is preparing a resolution for the state to recognize Dallas Koreatown.
According to Anchia, such an appointment will be valid for 10 years and should be renewed. In addition to broader recognition, he said the resolution would allow signs to be placed on state highways to designate the area as Koreatown.
“I always say that immigrants, the sons and daughters of immigrants, are the oxygen that flows through the veins of Dallas and Metroplex,” Anchia said. “We’re incredibly grateful for the community’s contributions, not just to Dallas and the wider megaplex, but to the entire state.”