When Japanese immigrant Kojiro Inoue first moved to the Washington area in 1971, D.C. had some Japanese restaurants but couldn’t boast of any that offered sushi. It was for good reason—hardly anyone seemed interested in the idea of eating raw fish. “Sushi wasn’t popular,” explained Inoue to The Washington Post years later. So when Inoue decided to start a small sushi bar within Sakura Place, a Japanese restaurant in Silver Spring, the endeavor wasn’t without its risks. However, Inoue saw potential.
Depending on how you look at it, the 1976 Koreagate scandal didn’t really start with Tongsun Park. But when the media caught wind of “the most sweeping allegations of congressional corruption ever investigated by the foreign government,” Tongsun Park’s charm and personality made him an entertaining antagonist. Part of the intrigue was that Park’s story didn’t conform to the stereotypical immigrant narrative. Park, born in 1935, grew up with wealth. By the 1970s, Park’s opulence – “expensive homes, lavish Embassy Row parties, worldwide jet travel and purchase of his own downtown office building” – made him a Washington celebrity, the District’s “Asian Gatsby.”
Today, the K-Pop phenomenon has taken the world by storm; but it seems that American fascination with Korean music goes all the way back to the late 1800s, 1896 to be exact. Long before bands like BTS sold out stadiums, there were seven Korean (then called Chosun) students whose singing captured the attention of “dozens of damsels” at Howard University.