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New heritage museum focusing on Korean American to be built in Koreatown, LA

Plans for the new Korean American National Museum in Koreatown, Los Angeles are well underway. 

Organizers unveiled new design and construction plans for the two story building this week during a small event event at the future site for the institution. Attended by several local politicians, the museum announced the state contributed 4 million dollars for the project.

The Korean American National Museum organization was founded in 1991. For three decades, they have partnered with numerous museums, universities, and cultural centers in producing events and exhibitions that foretell the Korean American narratives.

According to a statement released by the Korean American National Museum, this construction project will provide a permanent exhibition dedicated “to preserving, studying, and presenting the Korean American community’s cultural heritage in Los Angeles.”

Lead by Morphosis Architect, the design illustrates a clean and modern structure that will be juxtaposed with traditional Korean elements. The museum will be 17,000 square footage of “free-flowing space” that includes a courtyard displaying “hanok,” or traditional Korean style houses. 

The Morphosis team in charge of this project consists of many Korean American talents, with Principal Designer Eui-Sung Yi and assistance from Sung Lim, Paul Choi, and Janice Kim, a fact that the museum states they are thrilled about. 

In an interview with the LA List, the museum’s Executive Director Shinae Yoon said that the location for the museum was an important consideration during the initial phases. Koreatown signifies the “epicenter” of the Korean American immigrant story and is significant to the past and future generations of Korean Americans. 

According to a statement from the Korean American National Museum, the board first announced this project back in 2014 with an intention to build 107 rental apartments with ten percent set aside as affordable housing. In 2018, the board abandoned this plan due to the increase in construction cost. “Those factors made the proposal unfavorable to the bottom-line, and it became clear that the increased costs would jeopardize the idea of building apartments to partially- fund the operations of the Museum,” the statement said. 

The official Korean American National Museum is set to begin construction in early 2020 and expected to open in Fall 2020. The will be located on the corner of Vermont and Sixth Street. 

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