AMBASSADOR of South Korea Han Dong-man considers the growing fondness of Filipinos for Korean popular culture, known as hallyu or Korean wave, will help strengthen the relationship of his country and the Philippines.
“I would like to ask you to continue [the] solid ties between the Philippines and Korea,” Han said during the 2019 K-pop Friendship Concert on March 7 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Aside from K-pop, he observed that the local Korean wave has strongly influenced the lives of Filipinos in the form of Korean “novelas,” food and cosmetics, among many others.
The Korean envoy also took notice that the “wave” has rapidly spread and continues to make inroads in many places across the country.
In his speech before a mammoth crowd of more than 3,000, he insisted that South Korea is still the country’s top source of foreign tourists.
Han said that in 2017, 1.6 million South Korean visitors came to the Philippines. About 100,000 of them have decided to permanently reside here.
When it comes to trade, his country maintains its position as the Philippines’s fourth-biggest partner, which has contributed $15 billion in trade volume.
He also extended his gratitude to the Filipinos for the friendship binding their countries, as both will celebrate 70 years of bilateral relations between them.
The ambassador ended his speech by saying, to the crowd’s delight: “Mahal na mahal ko kayo! Mabuhay!”
Officials in the event
FOR the country’s part, National Archives of the Philippines Executive Director Victorino M. Manalo said his agency would continue partnerships with the Korean embassy and the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines.
Newly appointed Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno also graced the occasion together with his wife Jo Ann, who admitted to be a K-pop and K-drama fanatic.
Meanwhile, the embassy’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism First Vice Minister Kim Yong-sam expressed his belief that Philippines is an attractive market to Korean entertainment companies.
“Professionals in the K-pop industry probably found the cultural solidarity between the Philippines and [South] Korea very attractive and more marketable,” Kim said, as he explained the reason more Korean artists are coming to the country, holding concerts and fan meetings.
That night, they were entertained by K-pop groups April, Noir and NCT Dream.
These past years have seen Filipinos welcoming a throng of visiting Korean stars. When 2019 kicked in, K-pop girl groups Momoland and Blackpink held respective shows on Philippine shores.
In February actor Park Hyung-sik held a fan meeting after he was selected as a model for a local clothing brand.
Top-tier actor So Ji-sub left fans in awe with his sheer rapping skills during his “Hello, Manila” fan meet-and-greet on March 16.
Park Ji-hoon and Bae Jin-young also met their Pinoy fans recently. Actor Park Bo-gum is set to arrive in April.
Image credits: Mary Rose Loperez