Damaris was raised in Koreatown and was an active participant in KYCC’s YDAPP—Youth Drug Abuse Prevention Program—a leadership program that trains youth advocates to raise substance abuse awareness among their peers in Koreatown and neighboring communities. She was also a K-Town is Your Town youth participant. She is currently a first-year student at CalState Northridge, but this interview took place when she was a high school senior. 

Interview and photo by Daniel Choi

Where is your hometown?

Although I was born in downtown Los Angeles, I consider Koreatown to be my hometown since I have lived here throughout most of my childhood. My family and I moved here when I was six years old.

At first, my family’s financial instability prevented us from getting a home so we had to live with my uncle. We finally moved into our own apartment when I was six years old, but this wasn’t our permanent residence. We had to move again when I was 11, but it was only a couple of blocks away. We moved again when I was in sixth grade.

Do you live or work in Koreatown?

My home is in Koreatown but my school is in Silverlake. My school used to be in Koreatown, but the school moved buildings.

What are your thoughts on Koreatown?

Koreatown is a relatively calm place, compared to other areas of Los Angeles such as East L.A., where it is more dangerous. I’ve never felt like I was in danger here.

Koreatown is also very ethnically diverse, which is very nice. For example, a store I once visited for school supplies was owned by a person from Bangladesh.

Koreatown has a nice environment and a lot of places to explore, mainly stores and places to eat. There is a Yogurtland, a bakery, a Thai restaurant and an ice cream shop in close proximity to where I live right now.

Where is your favorite place in Koreatown?

Melrose Street! This street contains many places I used to go as a child. My parents and I would often go to Jons, a bakery where we would get tortillas, and a 99 cents store.

Recently, I visited a store on Melrose Street to talk to the cashier, who is a close friend of mine. She was happy to see me. We were able to catch up and I told her that I will be graduating soon.