KOREATOWN (CBSLA) — Thousands gathered in Koreatown late into the night Tuesday to vote on whether to split the historic neighborhood in two, thereby giving Little Bangladesh its own neighborhood designation.
Koreatown resident James Kim became emotional as he gave CBS2 News his history in the region.
“My father and my grandfather in heaven, watching all these Korean people here, all these people voting — it’s unbelievable,” Kim said as he choked back tears. “It’s really hard for me to hold back the tears.[…] My father’s friends, they brought tiles, roof tiles imported from Korea to make it look like a Korean town.”
“It’s one thing to try to expand, but when you try to take 60 percent-plus out of the community, I think you’re saying, ‘We wanna take over,'” said neighbor Grace Yoo.
Despite the history, some say it should not preclude others from making their roots in the region known, Bangladeshi and otherwise.
“It’s not about more of the voice of Bangladesh, it’s more of the voice of diverse community,” said Maruf Islam. “Diverse community includes Latino, diverse community includes African-American, Filipinos, Koreans, Indonesian, Pakistani, Indian, all nations.”
Neighborhood councils are given thousands of dollars from the city, and they act as the middleman between the city and the community.
Those opposed to a separate Little Bangladesh council say its creation could change K-town.
“This is a huge network, huge population,” said another proponent of the new council. “We want to increase the service.”
City officials say the boundaries of Koreatown will not change if the proposal is passed.
The vote tally is expected next week.