70 years of friendship and beyond
DIPLOMATIC POUCH - Han Dong-Man (The Philippine Star) - March 3, 2019 - 12:00am

I am always delighted and grateful whenever I witness young Filipinos enjoying Korean drama and films, and K-Pop.

It is also pleasantly surprising to meet those who can speak Korean really well and know more about Korean celebrities than I do. The girl group Momoland, whose hits Bboom Bhoom and Baam ranked Number 1 and 2 respectively in the weekly chart of the Philippines, has performed twice in Manila, first in August of 2018, and recently this January.

On February 2, another girl band, BlackPink, held a sold-out concert at the Mall of Asia Arena. I had a chance to meet Ms. Anne Curtis, a famous Filipino celebrity who has more than 10 million followers. She admitted to being a big K-Drama fan, which, of course, made me proud.

 As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of our diplomatic relations beginning today, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea and the Korean Cultural Center in Manila will host various cultural events. These include, among other events, a K-Pop Friendship Concert at the Mall of Asia Arena on March 7, starring NCT Dream, April, and Noir; a Friendship Parade in June along Roxas Boulevard featuring Samulnori, the Korean traditional percussion quartet, and a Philippine drum and fife band; and a Peace Orchestra Concert for Korean War Veterans at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on June 25.

These will be in addition to annual events organized by the KCC, such as the Korean Film Festival and the Phil-Kor Cultural Exchange Festival.

Throughout this milestone year in Korea-Philippine relations, I aim to intensify the promotion of Korean culture in this country. As well, I intend to promote the Philippines and its culture among Koreans living here and in Korea. Hence, when we host cultural events in the Philippines, we strive to infuse them with Filipino elements or closely collaborate with local partners.

The Embassy also involves local governments by introducing Korean traditional cultural performances during various festivals in the Philippines. This setup allows Filipino communities to experience Korean culture as they showcase regional festivals to Koreans who are living here or merely visiting as tourists.  In similar fashion, Korean communities in the Philippines work hard to present Korean culture during local events.

Among the many activities that we earnestly support are those involving the members and families of PEFTOK (the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea). And even as young Korean students are constantly reminded of our shared history, especially looking back to the Korean War, I relentlessly try to raise public awareness and understanding in Korea about the Philippines and its unique connection to Korea. 

I firmly believe that we need to keep enhancing our mutual understanding in order to enrich our countries’ relationship in the next 70 years. President Rodrigo Duterte and President Moon Jae-in have agreed to designate the year 2019 as the year of mutual exchange

 The House of Representative of the Philippines mirrored this sentiment in a resolution passed last month.  For my part, I hope that there will be many opportunities for us to experience each other’s culture this year that will further strengthen this relationship. Based on what we have achieved in the past seven decades, I am optimistic that our countries’ friendship will indeed flourish in the coming years.

HAN Dong-man is the ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Philippines

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