Korean becomes a lingua franca in Strathfield..."Little Korea of Australia"

Most of restaurants, hairdressers, grocery shops, cafes, bakeries, coaching colleges, a bank branch and even local surgeries along with other professionals such as solicitors, accountants and migration agents in Strathfield are run by Korean speaking people.

More recently, yoghurt franchises opened by Korean business people have added a cosmopolitan vibe to the suburb.

A Yoghurt shop in Strathfield

Likewise, the predominant language spoken by revellers, shoppers and even residents in the suburb is Korean.

Visitors even including Korean travellers or new settlers readily become puzzled at the Strathfield' atmosphere as Korean is almost a lingua franca in the area being spoken everywhere around the area.

In fact Korean language is ubiquitous and audible from revellers on the main street The Boulevarde, commuters around the station and the bus stops, and shop owners and staff, of course including their clients too.

Some people rather express their concern over 'too much Korea-like atmosphere' as it conveys the aspects of the pros and cons.

2011 Census reaffirms “Little Korea”

According to 2011 Census, Korean community is one of the most rapidly growing ethnic groups in Australia, and the Sydney suburb of ‘Strathfield’ has grabbed the title of ‘little Korea’.

Strathfield has the highest number of Korean speakers in Australia with 2,456, or 10.4% of the 23,639 people in that suburb, whereas there are 79,786 Korean speakers in Australia, representing 0.4% of the entire population.

Korean shops along with Strathfiled's main street 'The Boulevards'

In fact a recent research by UTS Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre (authors: Prof. Jock Collins and Dr Joon Shin) has already highlighted the high density of Koreans and their businesses such as restaurants and food outlets in the suburb.

Top Media's managing director Ms Linna Lee, the former Chairman of the Strathfiled Korean Business Association, has described the area as the most rapidly growing and expanding Korean communitym and a hub of Korean business sector, with an increasing number of Korean residents as well as retailers and professionals.

She has also emphasised that Strathfield is one of the most important suburbs, in terms of local economy, politics, and multicultural perspectives, as it proves the power of a multicultural community, which is much more resilient.

Strathfield epitomising Korean towns

However, the suburb has been always challenged with some fundamental issues, such as competitiveness, harmony, solidarity and, integration into the mainstream society.

In this sense, the Korean community organization in Strathfield used to flag a slogan of ‘One Voice One Growth’, to maximise the cooperation not only within the community but also with the mainstream society.

The influx of Korean businesses began with the opening of the area's first Korean retailer 'Han Yang Grocery Shop' on The Boulevarde in 1985 by the late businessman Mr Il Hoon Cho, the former Chairman of the Korean Chamber of Commerce.

The First Korean shop in Strathfield

The first Korean shop in the area is still run under the same business name.

The opening of the first Korean grocery shop in the suburb which is still operatng ushered the Korean community into a new era eclipsing the high profile of Campsie as a Korea town in Sydney.

More interestingly, unlike Campsie or Eastwood where the Korean business sector formed in the wake of the considerable increase of Korean population, Strathfield attracted more Korean residents, by the virtue of Korean retailers in the area.

The late Mr Cho said in an interview with the weekly TOP News on the occasion of its 16th anniversary, there were only two Korean community churches in 1985 in Sydney and both of them were based either in Strathfield or Burwood.

Accordingly, over the weekend, Korean speaking people flocked to Strathfield which was one of the most convenient suburbs in terms of a public transport.

As he predicted, more and more Korean retailers had started opening shops in the area.

Influx of Korean students and working holiday makers in the area

Korean business sector in Strathfield still expands around the whole boundary of the suburb.
The suburb has been reshaped since 1990s when more and more Korean students began settling in the area. Its sea change has been accelerated with the significantly increasing number of working holiday makers from Korea after the Sydney Olympics, making it “little Korea”.

©Korean Safari with TOP Media