In some ways—even more than Japan and the People’s Republic of China—South Korea is dominating key U.S. markets. I’ve noticed this for years in Orange County, where Hyundai North America just built its new $200 million U.S. headquarters in Fountain Valley, the city next to where I live in Huntington Beach. It’s double the size of the old headquarters, indicating what the company sees in the future. And just 11 miles down the 405 in Irvine sits sister company Kia’s shining HQ, built in 2007.
The Korean presence in Silicon Valley is also surprising. During a 2013 business trip to the Bay Area, I drove around in a rented car—Enterprise gave me a Kia Optima—to see all the glittering tech companies that dot the landscape of what officially is called the Santa Clara Valley: Apple, Intel, Google, Facebook. As the diversity-mongers keep griping, these companies still are owned and run mostly by billionaire white guys.
There’s now an unofficial Koreatown east of Apple in Cupertino and west of San Jose. Almost every store is a Korean restaurant or a small business supporting their compatriots who come here, some to stay, while interfacing with Korean, American, and other high-tech companies.
Cupertino is named after Saint Joseph of Cupertino, a 17th-century Franciscan from Naples, Italy, known for levitating, something for which Apple...