Koreatown on edge: Restaurants see drop in business, boost safety plans after salon attack

By Amanda Albee | Dallas Morning Neww | May 24, 2022

Bar and restaurant owners in the Asian Trade Center District, informally known in Dallas as “Old Koreatown” off of Royal Lane and I-35, are experiencing a drastic dip in sales after three women of Korean descent were injured in a shooting at Hair World Salon on May 11.

At a news conference the day after the shooting, Dallas Police Chief Eddie García said the department had “confidently” ruled out hate as a motivating factor. By the next day, García backtracked, saying, “It’s a hate crime.” The attack follows two previous drive-by shootings in the area since April 2022.

Since the most recent shooting, business owners said they noticed increased police presence. A mobile surveillance tower in Asiana Plaza, where Komart Marketplace and multiple Korean-owned businesses reside, is helping many feel safer. They hope the changes remain, and at least one bar and restaurant owner is preparing for the risk of violence by adding to his gun collection.

Jonathan Kim says business is down by nearly 70% at Gomonae Restaurant, which specializes in Korean stews, less than a half mile away from Hair World. Kim’s mother and uncle also work in the restaurant owned by his grandmother, Soon Ja.

The week after the shooting, the family talked to other nearby business owners and heard the same complaint: no customers.

The shooting was “a big scare for our family, as well,” Kim says, especially since his uncle was at Hair World hours before the assault occurred. Later, when Kim learned the crime was directed toward people of Asian descent, it was even scarier — “not for myself, but for my family running a business there. What if that guy had picked my grandma’s restaurant that day?”

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