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Aurora exploring a ‘Korea Town’ designation

Did you know there are roughly 2,300 Korean immigrants living in Aurora?

If you couldn't make the trip to Pyeongchang to explore South Korean food and culture for yourself, Aurora has the next best thing.

Koreans make up one of the city's largest immigrant populations with arguably the best Korean markets and restaurants in the metro area. It's so popular that Aurora City Council is exploring the idea of giving a pocket of Aurora the designation “Korea Town.”

“We have 179 different languages spoken in our public schools,” said city councilman Dave Gruber in the dining room of Korean restaurant Tofu House at Havana and Iliff, an area that would be included in a potential Korea Town in Aurora. “We at the same time get to celebrate our immigrant population. We get to create a destination location.”

Gruber was recently asked by a Korean paper if he’d support such a title and he eventually became part of an exploratory committee to see what it would take and what the community thinks.

“If you can bring people to an area, if you can bring them when they're hungry, if you can find restaurants for them to eat at, not only will it help the Korean restaurants in the area, it'll help everybody else in the area too,” Gruber said.

There are roughly 2,300 Korean immigrants living in Aurora. Peter Lee, for example, moved to Aurora 29 years ago and never left.

“This is the only place I can get this. Other than LA,” Lee said of the spicy tofu, grilled meats and bubbling pots of seafood. “It feels like home. I don't miss much of Korea. Because I get to eat whatever I want to eat here.”

But, Lee says, it’s about much more than the food. The Korean community has made Aurora the place to go to experience Korean culture and host events. Aurora has a sister city in South Korea -- Seongnam City.

There are dozens of Korean business within a few miles of Tofu House.

Though in the very early stages of talks, Korea Town would likely be somewhere in between Mississippi Ave and Dartmouth Ave to the north and south and Havana St and I-225 to the East and West.

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