For years, I’ve wanted to document Ktown’s ever-morphing visual landscape. But I’ve also made peace with my photographic laziness. Spanning Los Angeles, Atlanta, Annandale, New York, Flushing, Pal Park, Fort Lee, Dallas, and Honolulu, Hahn captures the gloriously complex, human ways the community has evolved beyond the church car show.
Explore and celebrate Korean culture in America through photographs and interviews by award-winning photographer Emanuel Hahn.
"Photographer Hahn's animated and vivid debut . . . is exceptional." —Publisher's Weekly, Starred Review
Since the first wave of Korean immigration in the early 1900s, Korean immigrants have opened and operated small businesses across the country that enrich the cultural fabric of our communities. Yet their stories are too often overlooked, as even today their existence is being pushed to the margins of American society. In Koreatown Dreaming, a project that began in Los Angeles and expanded to eight other cities, the lives of Korean immigrants are observed with care and admiration under Hahn's tender, capacious gaze. Hahn's arresting photographs and narrativized interviews portray Korean small business owners as key figures not just in their neighborhoods but in their own lives, where they experience personal struggle, sacrifice, triumph, growth, and joy.
Koreatown Dreaming is at once an anecdotal history of Korean immigration and a touching homage to Korean immigrant life. These intimate stories of over 50 small businesses are a testament to the American Dream, even while complicating the illusions of that promise, and of what it means to be American.
Cities featured: Los Angeles, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Annandale, Virginia; New York, New York; Flushing, New York; Pal Park, New Jersey; Fort Lee, New Jersey; Dallas, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaii.
About the Author
Emanuel Hahn (he/him) is a Los Angeles-based commercial and documentary photographer/director. As a Korean Third Culture Kid growing up in Singapore and Cambodia, he developed an interest in storytelling, especially on topics of identity, culture, diasporic experiences and the question of what it means "to belong." His deep observational and listening abilities have led him to tell the stories of coffee farmers in Colombia, Chinese grocery store owners in the Mississippi Delta, and the Korean Uzbeks in Brooklyn, among others. His work has appeared in the New York Times, New Yorker, Atlantic, The Guardian, and more. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
“Photographer Hahn’s animated and vivid debut celebrates how Korean Americans have made their lives and livelihoods in enclaves across the country. . . . In snapshots paired with a brief essay about each establishment, Hahn takes a brilliant look at the resilience and ingenuity of immigrants who have battled economic hardship, racism, and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic to carve out lives for themselves in America. . . . This is exceptional.”—Publisher's Weekly, Starred Review