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Little Korea attracts expatriate Iranians

KUALA LUMPUR: The commercial centre of One Ampang Avenue which has long been known as “Little Korea” has attracted a different crowd of expatriates of late: Iranians.

Located in the suburb of Ampang Jaya, the expanding business area comprising three blocks of 3 to 5-storey shopoffices and a condominium has seen the opening of an Iranian supermarket to cater to the influx of the new group of foreigners.

The Korean Society Malaysia past president and long-time resident of One Ampang Avenue Lee Tae Soo said there should be over 1,000 Iranians living in the area for a supermarket to survive.

Richmond Realty principal Jaslyn Sim also commented on the burgeoning of Iranian restaurants and shops within the close-knit Korean community within the last two years.

It is not known why Iranian expatriates have been increasingly drawn to Little Korea but the area is still dominated by some 10,000 Koreans, said Lee, who is also managing director of Hoonmin (M) Sdn Bhd which manages The Korean Sunday Times newspaper.

He added that out of the 20,000 Koreans living and working in Malaysia, an estimated 75% of the expatriate community is living in Kuala Lumpur.

“Many of them work in the city with multinational as well as Korean firms, including those involved in the construction, engineering and manufacturing lines,” he said.

According to Lee, the Korean population in One Ampang Avenue has been stable, with many upgrading their residences to the upmarket Mont’Kiara area.

Sim said rentals in One Ampang Avenue have been stable since the 1997 Asian financial crisis where condo owners were forced to lower their rentals.

It is estimated that during the period, fully-furnished 3-bedroom units were rented out for between RM1,500 to RM2,000.

Today, those seeking to rent in the area can expect to pay between RM2,300 to RM3,500 for a fully-furnished 3-bedroom unit in One Ampang Avenue.

Please go to our multimedia segment for a short video documentary on Ampang's Little Korea.

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