Annyeonghaseyo: A Korean’s Reflections in the Philippines


Annyeonghaseyo: A Korean’s Reflections in the Philippines

The journey to live in a foreign land may begin anytime soon. The tropical weather may foretell imminent experiences in the Philippines. However, your heart may overflow with absolute confidence and zeal. Challenges can make life more dynamic. It can also give crucial skill to make anyone stronger. Even if you are just a student, you may take on more roles. Studying abroad can make you relate to Filipinos. It will also make you more cognizant of the international relations between the Philippines and South Korea.

Here is the reflection of Koreans as a Philippine subcultural group. They share ways of life that may be distinct from the mainstream. They do not transgress mainstream society’s values, norms, beliefs, and social rules. Koreans who live in the Philippines are in a subculture. That is because they take part of the Philippine culture like residents of the country. However, they still practice the elements of their learning.

The migration of South Koreans to other Southeast Asian countries started in the 19th century. In the incipient stage, the Koreans settled in the Philippines because of the attractive, pristine and vast environment. The place also has a relatively low cost of living. The recent surge of Koreans in the Philippines has relations to setting up of leisure, travel, businesses, and education. Koreans spend around $800 to $1000 every month. They contribute around $1 billion annually which is significant to the Philippine economy. Korean immigrants run a lot of businesses. It opened a lot of jobs to local people and increased tax payment. There is also an increase of exports to South Korea.

Despite this information, there is still pessimism with the ways Filipinos perceive South Koreans. That is because of the incidence of Kopinos. They are children of Filipinas and Koreans out of wedlock. This societal deviance exists because of the influx of Korean men to the Philippines for sex tourism. Korean men often abandon the women who get pregnant or give birth. Kopinos get raised without fathers. That is why lots of South Koreans are under consideration as lewd and irresponsible villains.

In the past years, I visited a poor urban community in Manila and volunteered the donation of relief goods from the church. I saw a Filipino woman raise her Kopino son on her own. Her Korean “husband” left her after getting pregnant. She moved back to her parent’s home because she cannot raise the child on her own. This experience created a social stigma among Kopinos and their moms. They engender a conflict between the Filipinos and Koreans. This growing antagonism can hinder the establishment of mutual ties.

Stereotypes may exacerbate the tension. People usually think along “racial” lines. It applies to the characteristics and stereotypical traits of an ethnic or cultural group to every member of that team. One example is the number of Koreans who engage in sex tourism in the Philippines. Since they produce Kopinos, there is a tendency to consider the Koreans lewd. People think that Koreans are born with that trait. This racial thinking may be erroneous. That is because it ignores the fact that features are learned and not inherited or genetic. It is an assumption that people inherit traits. That can be the basis of discrimination, prejudice, and racism. The cultural difference is now a matter of heredity instead of the social environment.

Sometimes, there are instances when stereotyping Koreans can provide a connection between the Filipinos and Koreans. That happens since the cultural diffusion enables the penetration fo the Korean Pop culture called “Hallyu” in our current society. You may become amazed at the spread of the Korean culture in the Philippines. People may greet you with “Annyeonghaseyo,” which means “hello” in Korean. You may also hear Korean songs on the radio or watch Korean shows on television. Everywhere you go, you’ll find Korean dessert cafes, Korean restaurants, and Korean fashion. The Korean pop culture is now accessible to everyone. It applies regardless of social class and allows Filipinos to experience the Korean lifestyle directly or indirectly.

This cultural diffusion may fortify the bond between the two cultures. It can deepen and facilitate their understanding and solidarity. The mainstream culture may also embrace the new trends through enculturation. People with different backgrounds may share shared experiences and interests.

The number of Koreans in the Philippines may increase the number of Filipinos who migrate to Korea. Early migrants were blue collar workers who work in factories and do menial tasks. It may lead to some biases. Stereotyping eventually ebbed because there are lots of Korean businesses in the Philippines. The Philippines is also a country where Koreans can learn English.

Aside from that, lots of Filipinos became successful in different fields in Korea. One of them is the former congresswoman and politician Jasmine Lee. She migrated to South Korea after marrying a Korean man. Her husband died after trying to save their daughter from drowning in the river. She started working as an actress after his death. Jasmine starred in lots of hit movies and joined an organization that advocates the rights of migrant families. This lady eventually got elected to Congress. Even if there is institutionalized racism against Southeast Asians and the society is relatively conservative, the case of Jasmine Lee demonstrates the ability of the members of the minority group to succeed. Her efforts contributed to the opening up of the South Korean society and the breaking down of prejudice against Southeast Asians.

The encounter between Filipinos and Koreans may not always be positive. However, these result in a greater understanding between the two groups. These ties can lead to a better cooperation between the two nations.

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