Today, Suh lives in one of the most highly concentrated communities of Koreans in the Washington region, according to a Washington Post analysis of census statistics being released Thursday.
The data provide a richly detailed picture of where the region’s 570,000 Asians live. Chinese are most prevalent in the District and Montgomery County, particularly in Rockville and Potomac. Filipinos are the largest group in Prince George’s and Charles counties. Indians are flocking to Loudoun and Fairfax counties and have become the largest and fastest-growing group of Asians in the area. Koreans are the largest group in Centreville, where 26 percent of the population is Asian.
Suh now can choose from two Asian supermarkets within a five-minute drive. One of the region’s largest Korean churches moved to Centreville last year.A huge Korean spa, Spa World, attracts Asians and non-Asians from around the region. At school concerts, Suh notices that most of the orchestra players are Asian.
“I guess the change was gradual, but it’s been big,” said Suh, 51, a technology manager. “We started seeing more and more Asians move in, then the churches. And that attracted more.”
The number of Asians in the region grew 60 percent over the past decade. While four out of 10 Asian Americans live on the West Coast, Washington has turned into a hub for Asians on the East Coast. It has the nation’s fourth-highest concentration of Asian Indians and Koreans.
On the East Coast, Boston is the only city with a higher percentage of Chinese. Only New York has a bigger Japanese proportion. And New Orleans is the only metropolitan area with a larger concentration of Vietnamese.
Asians are drawn here by the same magnet of opportunity that has attracted so many other ambitious people, making Washington the city with the biggest share of college graduates in the country.
“D.C. is similar to New York and Northern California,” said Amanjot Singh Dhaliwal, an officer in the South Asian Bar Association of Washington, D.C. “The most opportunities are here. You want to go where you have the most opportunities to make money and have a career.”
Indians are the latest wave of Asians transforming the region, having leapfrogged over Koreans a decade ago. For the first time, they make up the biggest group of Asians in Virginia, largely because they have moved to the Washington suburbs.
Their increasing presence reflects the growth of information-technology jobs in the region. Most came for jobs, having attended school elsewhere in the United States or in India, said Qian Cai, head of demographics at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.
With their high levels of education and income, Indians are pushing up those averages for the entire region.