Our Town: Korean Wave carries to Sweet Pea

Dr Tom Ferraro

The Korean Wave arrived in the late 1990s and is described as an increase in popularity of Korean culture especially regarding entertainment and fashion. 

A good example of this is the wildly popular arrival of Psy and his hit music video “Gangnam style.” 

This YouTube has over 2 billion views and is the most popular YouTube in history. Psy’s video has a great beat, great fashion, sexiness, wonderful choreography and above all a sense of humor. 

But “Gangnam Style’ is not the only marker of the Korean Wave to come to America. 

America has fallen in love with their cuisine (BBQ restaurants), their nail salons, their fruit and veggie markets and their dry cleaners.  In fact I have documented the Korean presence in our town more than once.  

The Kim’s of Aroma Nails and the Kim’s of Pembroke Cleaners are some of my favorite people in town.

And we now must note that one of the first of the Korean Wave one Long Island was our own Sweet Pea Fruit market right here on Herricks and Hillside. 

They have been here since about 1980 and I have been using them to get fresh fruit and vegetables for many years. 

Sweet Pea has recently been bought and renovated by Cindy Yim and her husband and I stopped by last week to have some lunch and to get to know her a bit. 

If you have never been there let me describe the place. 

As you walk in you see all the fresh flowers on your left and beyond that is the deli counter and the salad bar. Lining the walls are gourmet cheeses, all the fresh vegetables and the fruit. In the center are all the soft goods typically found in your supermarket.  In the back is the fish market. 

The Yim’s have been in the produce business for years with a little time out to own the famous GeoBukson  BBQ Restaurant on Northern Boulevard in Bayside. 

As we chatted I was served some spare ribs, chicken, beets and broccoli rabe from the salad bar. I’m no expert but I know good spare ribs when I taste them. Yummy. 

And I couldn’t help but ask her what she thought of Psy his “Gangnam Style” music video.  

She told me that Gangnam is a famous and well to do part of Seoul and that Psy was doing a spoof of it in a good natured way. 

And I then regretted that I did not visit Gangnam district when I was in Seoul last summer on my book tour.  

They call Seoul ‘the miracle on the Han River’ and it is just that.  The value of travel is that you learn things about the world and how wonderful different cultures are. In America we all know how to work. 

When I went to Italy I learned how to live. 

When I visited Seoul I learned how to love people. It is called Korean ‘jeong’ or a deep feeling of respect for your fellow man. And this is what I could see in Ms. Yim and in her fresh fruit and vegetable market. 

Psy and Gangnam Style are sweet. 

Korean films are sweet (especially “The Way Home.”)  K-pop is sweet and so is Sweet Pea. 

Get a taste of Korean jeong without going to Seoul.  

Visit Sweet Pea and say hi to Cindy Yim. 

About the author

Dr Tom Ferraro

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