From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."


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Sandara Park in the Philippines

Photo from ABS-CBNNEWS.COM

Photo from ABS-CBNNEWS.COM

Last Wednesday, Sandara Park, “Dara” of the famous K-pop girl group, 2NE1, arrived in Manila. Her group and a new boy band called Winner are having a concert at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday, May 17th. Sandara was ardently welcomed by her Filipino fans. They waited outside Ninoy Aquino International Airport just to have a glimpse of her and during her TV interviews, they were there to watch and support her, too.

In an interview, the former Kapamilya star mentioned that she and the other girls from her group were given a three-day vacation, and when she was asked where she wanted to spend her vacation, she said “in the Philippines, of course”.

Sandara won the hearts of the Filipinos when she joined Star Circle Quest in 2004, a talent search on ABS-CBN from which she emerged as the first runner-up. She became one of the members of Star Magic, ABS-CBN‘s elite circle of young talents. She made a number of television appearances and some product endorsements. She even had her own TV show called “Sandara’s Romance” which featured Korean dramas that she narrated. Her life story was also featured in Maalaala Mo Kaya, a popular Philippine drama anthology.

She appeared in several movies and released her self-titled album that included the novelty dance hit “In Or Out”, a song about her experiences on “Star Circle Quest”.

In August 2007, Sandara left the Philippines despite her success to pursue a showbiz career in South Korea. It wasn’t long before she was offered workshop classes by YG Entertainment and was chosen as one of its talents. She joined the group 2NE1, the female version of Big Bang, together with Bom, Minzy and CL. The girls of 2NE1 were first introduced in May 17th, 2009. This year, they are promoting their latest album entitled Crush which includes hit songs “Crush”, “If I Were You” and “Come Back Home”.

Since her comeback in the Philippines, she has been busy with interviews and made a guest appearance on the reality show Pinoy Big Brother All In.

I’ve watched Sandara when she was a celebrity in the Philippines and I think she was adorable. I also like that she remains humble and she hasn’t forgotten that once she was a darling to the Filipinos. She still is.

 


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Philippines: Too Dangerous for Koreans?

The news of the death of a Korean student in the Philippines hit the headlines this week and sparks worry about the safety of Koreans living in the country. The 21-year old student, who had been living in Manila with her brother for several years, was abducted last month. She was last seen riding a taxi in Pasay City on March 3. On April 8 (Tuesday), her remains were found in her captor’s hideout. The police were able to arrest one of the suspected kidnappers. The taxi driver is also a suspect.

According to The Chosun Ilbo, the Korean community in the Philippines “is blaming local police for mishandling the investigation, and accusing the Korean Foreign Ministry for standing idly by.” Some Korean netizens are already ‘generalizing’ the Philippines as being dangerous. One of the writers of The Korea Times has branded the Philippines as a death trap for Koreans as if every Korean going to the country has a sniper aimed at him.

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Korea Joongang Daily reports:

Since 2009, there have been 40 Koreans killed in the Philippines as Koreans have poured into the country to start businesses, study English and play golf. Between 2009 and 2013, 44 percent of some 160 murder cases of Korean nationals abroad occurred in the Philippines, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Two months ago, when my husband and I were in the Philippines, a 65 year-old Korean tourist was shot dead in my hometown (Angeles City). Last week, a 43-year-old Korean businessman was gunned down in a restaurant in Angeles City while having dinner with his wife.

Last year, 13 Koreans were killed in the Philippines and four this year.

In an article from The Korea Times, Professor Kim Dong-yeob of Busan University of Foreign Studies said it is more likely that Koreans are behind the crimes.

…the majority of cases involving Korean victims are contract killings. Many Koreans flying to the Philippines have a reason to flee Korea. Many are gang members escaping law enforcement. What they end up doing is paying people to swindle money from Koreans. businessmen, students and tourists.

The Korea Times gave Cho Yang-eun, leader of a mafia called Yangeunyi  and one of South Korea’s most wanted fugitives, as an example of criminals who have fled to the Philippines to escape capture. He was caught in Pampanga in November 2013. A few years ago, news about Koreans kidnapping fellow Koreans in the Philippines  also came out.

Photo taken from

A photo of Cho Yang-eun’s detention taken from Philstar

 

It saddens me that despite the possibility of Koreans masterminding the crimes in the Korean community, fingers are all pointed at Filipinos.

A certain Prof. Park made this statement in The Korea Times:

You can own a gun in the Philippines. Also, it is a Catholic country, meaning people probably feel freer than those visiting Malaysia or Indonesia which are Muslim countries. And take Thailand, for example. They have better protection for foreign tourists.

I think it’s unfair to assume that everybody can own a gun in the Philippines, (that’s why crimes are rampant) and what does being a Catholic country have to do with crimes?

While we Filipinos understand Koreans’ concern for the safety of their fellow Koreans living in the Philippines, we hope that our people will not be blamed for every crime that involves tourists in our country, and that the Philippines will not be thought of as a “death trap” for foreigners. The Philippines is not the only place in the world where crimes happen. Many Filipinos were angered and disheartened by the news of this poor Korean student’s demise. Many Filipinos seek justice, too. I assure you, despite the country’s frailty and corruption, the Philippines is still a country surrounded by a lot of good people who value the life of others.

 

 

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