From Korea with Love

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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.


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.




Seoul’s Little Manila

What a busy, busy, busy week!

Thank God, I was able to unwind last Sunday after my hospital visit. I thought of going to the Filipino market since I was already in Hyewadong.

Every Sunday, the road between Dongseong High School and Hyehwa Catholic Church transforms into Little Manila. The vibrant and convivial atmosphere of the Filipino market attracts not only Filipinos but also Koreans and other foreigners.



Haraboji (grandfather in Korean) looked amused as he was looking at the items in this stall.


Genuine smile that is truly Pinoy (Filipino)

When I visited the Filipino market for the first time, I saw only a few stalls, but last Sunday, new stalls had mushroomed. The place was busier, noisier and there were more foreign visitors.

You can buy just about anything “Filipino” in Little Manila: cosmetics, toiletries, snacks and pastries, condiments, meat, vegetables and fruit, beverages, etc.










Little Manila is also home to a variety of authentic Filipino dishes.




Pork barbecue


Balut (a popular Filipino street food that consists of a whole egg containing a duckling or chicken fetus)


Turon (deep fried bananas wrapped in spring roll wrappers)


Bananacue (deep fried bananas coated in caramelized brown sugar)

I decided to have my lunch in one of the carinderias (eatery) that serve some of these popular Filipino dishes. A Korean ajossi who was busy mixing pancit (Filipino noodles) and enthusiastically calling out customers caught my attention. With him was his Filipina wife who had that big smile on her face as she was inviting passersby to try their food. I wanted to try all of the food in the menu! Oh, how I missed Filipino food.

The carinderia is owned by Ate Violy and her Korean husband. The food is good and very affordable.

For 6, 000 KRW (242 PHP) (5.58 USD), you can choose two main dishes or viands with Filipino style-rice (not the sticky one) and soup. I ordered menudo and lumpiang gulay (vegetable roll). The soup of the day was sinigang, my favorite. ^^


After enjoying the meal, I had a little chat with Kuya Ed Atienza, the cook, and Ate Violy. I asked them if I could take some photos of the carinderia, and they were more than happy to oblige.





Ate Violy makes these sausages.



Pancit and barbecue… perfect combination! =)


Empanada (stuffed bread)



Lumpiang gulay (vegetable roll)


Kutsinta and Puto (Filipino rice cake)


Kakanin (Filipino dessert made from glutinous rice)

I rarely cook Filipino food in the house, because my in-laws prefer Korean food (of course), but every now and then, I crave Filipino dishes. It’s too bad that Little Manila is open only on Sunday, and I have to travel for nearly two hours just to get there.

More than just the food, it’s Filipino amiability, hospitality, simplicity and enthusiasm that I like about going to the Filipino market. I hope, in years to come, Little Manila will not just be a little place in one corner where Filipinos gather and enjoy a weekend of food and shopping, but a bigger and stronger community where Filipinos relive their culture and embrace their distinctiveness.