The Times podcast: The rise and fall of Korean dry cleaners

Korean dry cleaners
Stacy Kim, left, and Yoon Dong Kim at Arroyo Cleaners, their dry cleaning business in Pasadena.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

If you’ve worked from home during the pandemic, you probably haven’t used your local dry cleaner as much. Maybe you noticed a little bit more savings and thought, “Oh, cool.” But think about it: Your dry cleaner is run by people. If you’re in Southern California, most likely Korean immigrants. And if you’re not spending money, that means they’re not making it.


Today, we talk about the history of the Korean dry cleaner in the United States. How did people get into this business? And are their days of dominating it over?

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guest: L.A. Times San Gabriel Valley reporter Andrew J. Campa and Arroyo Cleaners owners Yoon Dong Kim and Stacy Kim

More reading:

Long a path to success for Korean immigrants, dry cleaners struggle in the pandemic

From the archives: Korean immigrants run 70% of Orange County’s dry cleaners and 27% of its neighborhood grocery stores

From the archives: Korean Americans move on to franchises

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, senior producer Denise Guerra and producers Shannon Lin, Marina Peña and Melissa Kaplan. Our engineer is Mario Diaz. Our editors are Lauren Raab and Shani O. Hilton. Our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.