Last month, LA’s own Koreatown held its annual K-town Night Market, an open market/block party!
At the event, you’ll find tons of street food and clothing (like KORE Limited), as well as music and entertainment acts. People come from all over Los Angeles to relax and have a good time. I’ll be talking about a little bit of both aspects of the Night Market and sharing my thoughts!
Clothing stands sell some of the latest Korean fashion if you want to update your wardrobe. The food stalls have crowds surrounding them. This year, there was a Vietnamese food stall hilariously named Pho King Awesome. Melomelo sold coconut drinks in actual coconuts; they were very sweet and perfect underneath the California sunset. One stall sold fantastic jalapeno-topped, cheese-covered Saigon fries. Other stalls sold yakisoba, ramen burgers, ice cream, big things of lemonade, and food that I couldn’t even begin to describe other than delicious. The indescribable food looked like something an alchemist conjured up. Imagine an alchemist fusing a cake with a grilled cheese sandwich, and yet it tastes amazing.
If there was ever a place to completely ruin your diet and undo all the work you did at the gym in three hours, it’s the K-town Night Market. I’ll post some pictures of the food below. I can’t really do the chefs the service they deserve. Nothing I say could replicate the feeling of seeing delicious food soaked in fat and salt and having your mouth flowing with saliva.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for that long on Friday. I got off work at four, and thanks to traffic, it took me an hour and a half to get to the Night Market. I stayed for about 3 hours. I had to dip early because the parking structure I went to closed at 9:30- the same time the final performance went on stage. So unfortunately, I couldn’t catch the final performance of the night. I managed to catch the last half of local singer-songwriter Romeo. He has a great voice and was a talented R&B singer.
I got to see a great performance by Nuna Gang, a self-called Hallyu Supergroup. They’re an LA based girl group inspired by K-pop. They are Jenny (African-American K-pop duo CoCo Avenue), Ashley (Joombas Music), Sierra, and Nami. Nuna Gang are all really cute girls and very charismatic on stage. It was a delight to see them in action. Despite a few technical difficulties at the beginning, the girls kept their heads high and continued on with a great show.
Soon after, my favorite act of the night, THAGODSQUAD, performed. THAGODSQUAD is a rap duo made up of xKaita and T-Time. The duo uses anime sound bites as samples, which I love. For example, one song has the duo rap about the high life and achieving dreams, but the beat is inspired by “Shiki no Uta” sample, the ending theme to Samurai Champloo. I remember one bar referencing Gurren Lagann, namely the famous quote “Row, Row, Fight tha Powa!” Another song had a “Cowboy Bebop” sample. THAGODSQUAD were the highlight of the Friday show for me and really made the hour-and-a-half trip worth it.
As stated, I had to leave early and didn’t get to see the GWNI, the final act of the night. I watched a few videos of GMNI’s performance when I got home. GMNI is a trap rapper, and he brought the heat. He ended the show with a ton of energy and everybody was hyped up. It was a great way to end the night.
I came back the following day and made just in time to catch the tail end of the Ellen Min and Brian Li performance. Ellen and Brian are a YouTube couple who make vlogs. They have a nice amount of followers at over 200k subscribers. The couple performed by dancing to notable Kpop artists such as BTS, NCT, and the like. The two have a wonderful chemistry together, and you could tell they worked incredibly hard at perfecting their performance.
After them was multi-instrumentalist and rapper, the young Abigail Pak. I love seeing young talent push themselves out of their comfort zone, so they can become better musicians. I think everybody can learn a thing or two from Abigail.
The K-Town Night Market continued into the cloudy evening. Jasmine Clarke made a return to the K-town Night Market. She was there the year before. Jasmine Clarke has a sweet and demure voice, a big plus.
Late of Odd Folks came on stage post Jasmine Clarke, and he is a strange artist conceptually. Odd Folks is meant to be an American boy band fusing together underground and Kpop music, but it’s just one guy, Late. Late himself is a chill rapper. He doesn’t rely on hard-hitting beats to make his mark but uses a nice easy-going flow. He goes for the more romantic, R&B style of rapping crooning in his songs. Think of artists like Verbal Jint, Jay Park, and Zion T. Late fit well with Jasmine Clarke’s demure performance, but what set him apart was his charisma.
To wake up the crowd, Demi and the Destroyers came out, and they were as adorable as they were fierce. Demi is a beast and ramped up the crowd in a big way. The Destroyers are Demi’s back-up dancers, and Demi owned the stage with a powerful singing voice and dance performance. I’m surprised at Demi’s stamina. I got tired just looking at her. They owned the stage. It was a fantastic show. Choreography was on point. You didn’t know which way to turn your head and couldn’t decide to look at Demi or the dancers.
The main events came out at 9:15. Ted Park had a crazy performance! He came out on stage with hot pink hair and matching hoodie. The performance was crazy. The bass was heavy, the beat hard. Ted Park is a hero behind the mic; you couldn’t keep your eyes off him. He takes cues from trap rap— his flow is tight, his delivery fierce. He’s funny as well, a real natural behind the mic. He knows when to joke around and knows when to pump up the crowd. The crowd got riled up: jumping and beating the ground flat. Guest rappers came on stage, and brought it as hard as he did. The stage was shaking from the people on stage.
After Ted Park got the crowed tired, Kisum came in, decked in white, and closed out the Night Market. Kisum is a Korean rapper, coming from all the way from South Korea, and she delivered a great performance. Like Late from Off Folks and other Korean rappers, her rap is chill and melodic with a bit of an edge. Her flow is smooth as milk. There were hints of Kpop within her music via pop-inspired beats. Kisum is a great entertainer, she knows how to work the crowd. In fact, many mainstream Kpop fans who are not as familiar with Korean hip-hop will also recognize her name. Not only did she gain fame on the show “Unpretty Rapstar,” she has also collaborated with people like SISTAR’s Hyolyn and MAMAMOO’s Hwasa.
Kisum also brought a surprise guest: rapper Heize! Heize had her single “Star” reached Number One on all Korean music charts upon its release and has been a guest at KCON LA and KCON NY, the largest Korean convention and concert in the USA. As such, I didn’t expect a notable name like Heize would come to a small Korean cultural festival like the night market, but their duet was beautiful. It was a nice way to close out the night and a great surprse for all those in attendance.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I love going to the K-Town Night Market. I love the sense of community permeating throughout the festival. There was a booth urging people to vote to keep Koreatown as it is since the City of Los Angeles wants to split Koreatown in half— one side staying as Koreatown and the other half becoming Little Bangladesh. As of this writing, I don’t know what the people voted for.
Each year, the food trucks offer a great variety of food from your standard pizza and tacos to fried Japanese food and Korean fusion foods. The food stands in the middle of the festival were fantastic and offer the best comfort food from Koreatown.My main interest each year are the musical acts. Even though I only caught a small glance of the Friday show, I still enjoyed what I saw.
I recommend people go and check out the show, even for a little bit for a relaxing date or just to wander around for a bit, munching on a stack of fried potatoes. The real party is always on Saturday. The big names come out and play for the crowd. I also love how the Night Market showcases relatively unknown acts to a new audience as well. It’s a great way to spend a chill weekend, and a great way to ring in summer.
Check out a few of my pictures below! Did you go to K-Town Night Market 2018? What was your favorite part?
KyeongJun is a writer for WTK, where he gushes about his love for Korean rock music (You guys need to listen to Jaurim). When not writing, he’s listening to the newest K-Rock bands. You can also catch him on WTK Radio where he hosts a show every Thursday night at 10 p.m. EST.