Koreans in the Philippines

When I went to Clark Pampanga, it is there that I encountered a lot of foreigners and a bunch of Koreans roaming around the city, and they are all over the country. Koreans prefer to study here because it is better of more affordable than other Asian countries. They are able to live comfortably in the Philippines even on a very limited budget. Alongside the arrival of Korean tourists in the country is the modest increase in the number of Koreans taking business ventures, employment, education, residency, and retirement. This trend suggests that the Philippines is becoming a preferred venue for Koreans, not only for tourism, but also for their second home.

The growing presence of South Koreans in the Philippines has been attributed to a rapid increase in South Korean trade and investment projects since the 1990s with other countries including the Philippines.

Another factor was the arrival of South Korean students, who sought English language and university courses at prices cheaper than in Western countries. In 2014, South Koreans topped the list of foreign students studying in the Philippines, according to the country’s immigration authority.

Here are some of the reasons why there are many Koreans in the Philippines:

  • In 2003, DOT’s (Department Of Tourism) marketing campaign “Philippines English as a Second Language Tour Program” attracted more Korean visitors.
  • The increase in cheap travels and special working permit visa given to Koreans to be a tourist guide drives tourist migration.
  • Investments of Korean businesses in the Philippines encourage more expats to move to the Philippines with their families. Younger kids of expats also study in Philippine schools.
  • Social migration through religious communities, built infrastructures, and small businesses (Korean stores, noraebang) caters to the growing number of Korean migrants
  • Philippine policy for retirement attracts more retirees to move with their families. Marketing the Philippines as a retirement haven is one of the success drivers of migration from the government.

Nowadays, the Philippines has become an ideal holiday tourism destination for South Korean families due to proximity and the arrival of low-cost airlines — a flight from South Korea to the Philippines can cost as little as 38,000 won ($35) one-way. Not surprisingly, South Korea ranks as the number-one origin of visitors to the Philippines. Some 1.07 million South Koreans visited in the first half of 2017 alone, accounting for nearly 24 percent of the total arrivals.

Sex tourism is also a reason for South Korean men to go to the Philippines, with many websites providing obvious sex tours to the Philippines under the pretext of golf holidays. Korean tourist know Angeles City, Philippines as the city of 3G’s: Golf, Gambling and Girls. Any hotel in the city is 10 minutes away from golf course and casino and even nearer to female sex workers. A place called Walking Street is a crowded place with bars and prostitutes which have customers that are Korean, Chinese and Japanese men ranging from their 20’s to their 50’s. There are also a number of American men over the age of 60.  Walking street is not far away from where I’m staying right now, I often visit the place when I want to eat Korean food. Once you were in the place you’ll see a bunch of foreigners looking for a prostitute that will make them happy in bed. I once heard from a friend of mine that these girls doesn’t carry any sexually transmitted disease because they have a regular checkup and all of them are clean, that’s why many foreigners doesn’t worry about any STD’s.

So rampant is the problem of sex tourism in the Philippines that the South Korean Embassy in the Philippines warns would-be sex tourists and organizers they can face up to 20 years imprisonment under the Philippines’ “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003”, explicitly cautioning that the South Korean law against selling and buying sex may also apply upon their return, even for transactions conducted abroad.

But there are many reasons why Filipino women end up dating South Korean men. “For some, it is true love, while others believe that marrying a foreigner might alleviate their poverty. Some men come for serious relationships, others don’t. I’ve seen so many cases, it’s difficult to generalize how and why they meet.

A girl named Kristi, 23 years old, met a South Korean man in the city of Makati, Philippines, through a blind date. “It was love at first sight. We were dating for a few months. Soon enough, I found out he was already married with kids. It broke my world so I decided to end it there.” But things didn’t work out for Kristi: Shortly after their break-up, she realized she was pregnant. “He told me ‘don’t worry I’m here for you, I won’t leave you,’ but one month before giving birth, he just disappeared.” It’s a recurring theme: South Korean men go to the Philippines, have relationships of varying degrees of commitment with local women, father children, and then at one point or another flee back to South Korea severing all ties and leaving the mothers alone with the children. Kristi is one of many thousands of Filipino women who are left to rear their children alone because of absent South Korean fathers.

Kopino meaning a combination of Korean and Filipino, is a term said to have first been created in 2004 to refer to a child born to a Filipino mother and a South Korean father, who has often run away. Kopino children face a number of difficulties in terms of child support, acquisition of nationality and visa issuance. In many cases, the mother — often from a poor background — has no contact with the father, and no knowledge of her former partner’s private details, be it a South Korean phone number, an address, let alone a Korean name. This leaves her to pay all child rearing expenses, even though the South Korean father has a legal obligation to provide support according to South Korea laws.

In a set of email exchanges, Korea Exposé communicated with several Filipino women who talked about their experiences of abandonment.

Because many Filipino women don’t know all the details of their South Korean partners, they face obstacles in trying to collect child support. In recent years, several organizations have been set up to help such women. One of the reasons South Korean men run away is that they believe they can avoid the situation by returning to South Korea, taking advantage of the woman’s more vulnerable and financially unstable position.

The difference between the two countries is that in South Korea if a couple has an unexpected pregnancy, they can easily abort it but in the Philippines the mother tends to keep the baby. They see it as a blessing and go ahead with the pregnancy whether or not the father is around. On top of being a very Catholic country, abortion practices and facilities are not advanced.

For me, these Korean men are heartless jerks who can’t keep their d*** in their pants. As a Filipino culture, little boys were taught to always respect women since Philippines is a Christian nation with Christian values. If a woman got pregnant by a guy they must either get married or if they don’t want to, the guy should agree to give financial support to his child. This is exactly what happened to my sister, she got pregnant when she was 19 and they did not want to marry each other, thus our families had an agreement to provide financial support to my niece. And one more thing, what kind of man leaves his responsibility as a father? I wonder how these Korean man were raised by their parents.

But I believe that not all of them have a bad attitude. Since there were a lot of Koreans here in the Philippines, I’ve already observed some of them. Korean girls have their own standard of beauty, style and sense of fashion. Plastic surgery in South Korea are very well known that when a girl turned 18, they would ask their parents to pay for their plastic surgery as a gift. Their beauty standards are too high that I think it’s too much already, it is creating insecurities, honestly, can’t we just accept our natural look than to modify it to look perfect? What if one day, these Korean girls who had plastic surgery gave birth to a child and while the kid grows up, she’ll observe that there’s no resemblance between him/her and the mother? I wonder how they will explain it to their kids. Well I guess they would rather look nice and pretty than to look natural since they have a high beauty standards. Their skin care products are also great and it’s becoming popular here in the Philippines. Many of my co-workers are using Korean beauty and skin care products. Many Filipinas admire Korean fashion. There are a lot of stores that sell clothes that has Korean style or have been influenced by famous Korean celebrities.

Koreans had also established a lot of restaurants and KTV bars here. I like the Korean foods, most of them are spicy, lots of vegetables and I like their noodles like Ramyeon and Japchae. In a place called Korea Town located at at Pampanga, Philippines, there you will find a variety of Korean restaurants and bar. Filipinos loved it. And I have to admit I love their Unlimited Samgyupsal and the side dishes are also good, the price is also cheap which makes it even better.

With the exception of these foods or traditions from South Korea, this country is rich and full of unique talents. A lot of Filipinos love K-pop and K-dramas and also their singers, actors and actresses. Some of the most popular koreans are Song Hye Ko, Park Shin Hye and Bae Suzy; and actors such as Lee Min Ho, Kwon Sang Woo and Song Joong Ki. Filipinos who admire these Korean form of entertainment are called ‘kdrama fanatics’ or your crazy people who watch Korean dramas. Some of the most popular Korean dramas include Baker King, Jewel in the Palace, Empress Ki, My Love from the Star, Weightlifting fairy, K-12, and Goblin that have been released from various parts of the world to and had been translated to different languages. These are just a few of Korean drama series that reflect the Korean culture.

Aside from Korean dramas, one of the most popular and appreciated by fans is the Korean talent for singing and dancing. Just like the Wonder Girls, SNSD (Girl’s Generation), 2ne1, Twice and Black Pink, these groups are made up of female members. For the men’s group are Super Juniors, Bigbang, Infinite, EXO, Seventeen and BTS. These are just a few of the groups of young people from around the world.

As a conclusion their population is homogenous unlike the Philippines. They’re culture also have western influence, but the good thing they’re still able to keep their own culture, traditions and identity. Also family-oriented. Almost perfectionist. They have a great obsession with beauty, which I believe has also influenced by the western world. In fact they have the highest plastic surgery rate than any other country in the world. But I want to take it on a positive side like medical tourism. Some are aware of having a monolid and obsessed with wanting to have a double eyelid surgery and even rhinoplasty. Cuisine is a two thumbs up for me. I love their foods. Koreans like spicy foods. They have high ego. I once encountered a Korean on social media and our conversation somewhat turned out negatively. He always points out how poor the Philippines is, and how nobody almost wants to go here and is so underrated. He also points out how our poor education system is corrupting the people’s minds (which I somewhat agree). This is from one of the comment sections in facebook. But could’ve put it in a nice way, because he really sounds like an arrogant person. It’s not the first time. I have also heard that some Koreans, are arrogant especially if they see that you’re coming from a third world country like the Philippines or any other country lower than them. I’ve always notice the difference between Koreans and Americans who lived here in the Philippines, whenever I pass by an American they will always smile or sometimes greet you ‘Good morning’ while Koreans won’t even bother to look at you.

There was a story once told to me by my friend. They were in the airport then suddenly a boarding officer was being scolded by a Korean in the airport check-in counter. My friend ask what happened and the people who witness the whole story said, the Koreans don’t want to fall in line and they want to be first, they reason out that they only have hand carry bags. The officers in the airport says that they were already used to it, most especially to arrogant Koreans.

Many Filipinos have experience situations wherein the Koreans are being annoying, but as of now I haven’t encountered one wherein a Filipino complained about it, sure we may talk about them, saying stuffs behind their back like how rude they are, but we never take them seriously and we just let it pass.

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