Cebu News

Festival bonds Cebu with Korea

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The Korea Festival was successfully held at the SM Seaside City last June 15 and 16, cementing bonds between Cebu City and Korea.

In his welcoming remarks, acting Cebu City Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia welcomed the Korean Culture Center (KCC) for the 2024 Korea Festival in Cebu as part of the 75th year anniversary celebration of the “enduring friendship” between the Philippines and South Korea.

Garcia, who is also chairman of the Culture and Historical Affairs Commission (CHAC) in the city, talked about the “enduring friendship” between the two countries and also expressed his gratitude to KCC for choosing Cebu City, for the first time as one of the venues apart from Manila, to celebrate the “positive influence” brought by Korean culture to Cebu.

“Even before Korea’s domination in the western world, I believe it’s safe to say that it first captivated the hearts of the Cebuanos. That is why even decades prior, Cebu already had a growing number of South Korean tourists, guests, and even students. The number of South Korean restaurants has continued to increase and its influence in our local cuisine has become even more felt,” Garcia said.

“I believe all of this that’s happening is a testament to Cebuano hospitality and our identity as a melting pot of different cultures and traditions… I earnestly look forward to not only meaningful collaborations between our nations but may our two cultures continue to influence one another in positive ways for the good of all,” Garcia added.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Undersecretary and officer-in-charge Verna Buensucesco said both countries share a "two-way street" of love, underlining South Korea’s being the number one tourist market for the Philippines and Cebu being the favorite destination of South Korean tourists.

"Koreans come here for leisure holidays, for sun and beach, for sightseeing and diving and golf and also to learn English. Our tourist arrival figures and the many varied activities Koreans do here show that Koreans love the Philippines very much," Buensucesco stated.

Buensucesco also said that South Koreans’ travel to the Philippines contributed to almost two million inbound arrivals in 2019, while last year it tallied a recovery data of about 72%.

As of February 2024, data from DOT shows that South Korea remains the Philippines’ top source market with 26.71%, contributing approximately ?21.37 billion.

Meanwhile, Korean Ambassador Lee Sang-hwa kicked off the said Korea festival which had the theme "K-Culture Next Door: 2024", emphasizing the “doorbell away” connection of the two nations.

"Just as neighbors are only a doorbell away, our nations have closely connected through friendship, cooperation, and a sense of community... we are committed to reach to as many cities as possible to share the beauty of Korea's way of life while fostering new partnerships and collaboration," Lee said.

"Cebu is not only the world-class tourist destination but is home to one of the oldest cities in the Philippines. It is a place rich in history and culture, and it is home to about 10,000-strong Korean community," he added, highlighting the beautiful features of Cebu as a world-class tourist destination and the rich history it holds.

Visitors to the event experienced Korean activities such as the K-pop Cover Dance Contest, Mini K-pop Busking Concert, K-Beauty Cover Make-up, and booth activities like the Hanbok Experience, Hangeul Experience, K-Traditional Games, and others were offered for free for Cebuanos. — Nicholas Jon Malaga & Donna Rose Egos, CNU interns (FREEMAN)

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