Home 9 Issue 9 Classic Koreatown by Jane Han

Jane Han, age 16

This piece was inspired by a discussion from a WriteGirl Bold Leaders Session that centered on the idea of community. I’d never written a poem centered around my “home” and wanted to expand on this opportunity I had been given. “Classic Koreatown” to me is the home I chose. Growing up in a country so removed from my family and culture with language that didn’t glide from my parents’ tongues, it was difficult to feel at “home” anywhere. Living in Koreatown surrounded by various beautiful cultures allowed me to hold onto my cultural roots while further allowing me to build my own identity and sense of home. In a way, it’s my personal haven, my bliss that I hope others can connect to.

Classic Koreatown

Koreatown, Los Angeles.
Where the smell of ruby-red fermented cabbage,
a slight tang of the sea,
a brush of chili powder,
김치 (kimchi) envelops me in an everlasting warm embrace.
A constant comfort,
wisps of my ancestors’ voices,
remnants of Korean history
oceans away from me.

Koreatown, Los Angeles.
A hidden landing pad
for when my wings spiral out of control.
A base I can call home
that’s taught me how to thrive in a community of people
from different cultures and backgrounds,
searching for smiles,
a drop in an overwhelming ocean.

Koreatown, Los Angeles,
Commonwealth Ave.
Where the wails of my furious baby sister,
a siren on the battlefield,
kept me awake
as I counted the stars stretching above me,
smiling at my infinity.

Koreatown, Los Angeles,
Commonwealth Ave.
The horror-movie basement,
flickering lights and fairy dust.
The screeching gate I imagined was brother to the Tin Man
keeping me company.
The elevator that’s always chasing the end of a memory,
tunnel vision, barreling down.

Koreatown, Los Angeles,
Commonwealth Ave.
Where I stand with my neighbors
“You’ve grown so much,”
a smile here.
“Have a good day,”
a nod there.


The gift
of keeping my mother language alive,
of walking through the perfume of 김치 (kimchi),
every day,
without fail.

A town filled with golden memories.
City of Angels,
my Koreatown.