From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."

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Sandara Park in the Philippines



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.



First Gay Marriage in South Korea Causes a Stir

Photo from "The Korea Times"

Photo from “The Korea Times”

Yesterday (September 7th), the marriage of two Korean males in Seoul caused a hullabaloo.

The couple, Kimjo Gwang-soo, 48, and Kim Seung-hwan, 29, are both filmmakers. Kimjo is a well-known movie director and producer in South Korea, whereas Kim is the head of a gay film distributor, Rainbow Factory. They established a movie company together and has imported movies.

Their wedding is said to be the first public gay wedding ever to take place in South Korea. No wonder it drew a lot of attention from the media and gay marriage critics.


Photo from “서울신문”

The wedding was attended by 1,000 guests including celebrities, a politician and an activist, but not everyone who came to the ceremony were there to congratulate the couple or wish them well.

A 54-year-old man, who introduced himself as a church elder, barged in, went up on the stage and threw food from a container as he was shouting, “Homosexuality is a sin! It destroys families and society!” The man was taken into police custody.

Another man, Hong Jeong-shik, head of a conservative activist group called People Saving Society, tried to intrude, but good thing, the couple’s friends were able to stop him.

Photo from “서울신문”

Same-sex marriage is a big issue, not only in South Korea. Even in my country, the Philippines, where gays and lesbians are more tolerated, the idea of same-sex marriage generates a lot of objections, especially from religious sectors.

Homosexuality is not accepted in Korean society, so it is no surprise that same-sex marriages are not legally recognized in this country.

According to article 31 of the Korean Human Rights Committee Law, “no individual is to be discriminated against on the basis of his or her sexual orientation,” but if you ask Koreans what they think of gays or lesbians, you will get mostly negative reactions. My husband and his friends are some of those who just can’t stand the thought of a Korean being gay. I often get into a debate with them when we talk about gays and gay relationships. Just last night, my husband and I had another heated debate about yesterday’s first public gay wedding. Back in the Philippines, I have many gay friends and they are no different from any other people. They are normal, hardworking people who have dreams and aspirations, people they care about, values they uphold. My husband has met some of my gay friends. He isn’t rude to them. He neither likes nor dislikes them, but I would not expect him to want to hang out with them like he would with my male friends.