David Hyun (1917-2012) was a Korean American architect who was most well known for designing the Japanese Village Plaza in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo. The development of Japanese Village Plaza in the late 1970s helped dramatically revitalize this urban area. As a result of its success, Hyun created a similar design for the Korean American community in Los Angeles called “Korea City”. This ambitious project would have been for the Korean community what Japanese Village became for Little Tokyo. For Hyun, Korea City would have been a showcase for the Korean American community in Los Angeles. Though plans for the project had been initiated, the project was never realized.
Hyun was born in Seoul, the seventh of eight children. His father, the Rev. Soon Hyun, had settled in Hawaii earlier in the century, making the Hyuns among the pioneer generation of Korean immigrants in America. A Methodist minister in Hawaii and then in Los Angeles, Rev. Soon Hyun was also an active member of the Korean independence movement. He was crucial in organizing the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai and acted as cabinet minister in the exiled Korean regime during Japanese occupation. He was designated a national hero by South Korea in 1963 in recognition of his efforts.
Like many who were were part of the pioneer generation, the Hyun family are an integral part of the history of Koreans in America. David Hyun’s history parallels that of the development of the Korean community and Koreatown in Los Angeles.