How South Koreans Invaded the Hearts of Filipinos
Annyeonghaseyo! (Hello!) I am an avid fan of Hallyu, which also known as Korean Pop Culture or K-wave. My fangirl journey started roughly in 2009 when Hallyu is on the rise and gaining popularity in the Philippines. At first, it seemed like a mere lousy entertainment to me but as time goes by; I got too attached to their culture and going to and eventually living in Seoul, South Korea became my goal.
Although Hallyu is Korean, it is a Taiwanese drama, “Meteor Garden” that paved way for the Asianovelas to become a hit around 2002-2003 in the country. The Taiwanese drama is Filipino-dubbed and is aired in Philippine television multiple times. Thus, the era of Korean dramas followed.
The first K-drama aired in the Philippines in 2003 was “Jewel in the Palace”, a historical drama about the journey of a young girl as the first female physician in the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. It is remarkably the highest rating Koreanovela in the primetime during that period, it was rerun but never failed to capture the hearts of the viewers. Next was “Lovers in Paris”, which kind of a Cinderella story, where a rich guy fell in love with a servant and now the most cliché set-up for K-dramas. Among these shows, “Stairway to Heaven” is one of the most heart-breaking; it showed how misfortunes drive people mad. And who would forget about "Boys Over Flowers"? It is a Korean remake of "Meteor Garden", thus brought fangirls the hope that everyone can be their own Cinderella. There were still a lot to mention but it will take a sure lot of time just to name all of the titles.
Some people might find these Korean dramas weird, awkward, unrealistic, stupid and shallow, though actually, it is what captured the hearts of its fans. The story-telling is excellent with fast developing plots and how the acting gave justice to it. Unlike Filipinos and Western TV shows that would take years to end because the story has a lot of subplots, the introduction, rise of the problem, climax fall of the problem, intervention and solutions can be told brilliantly with only 16 episodes. The best thing about K-dramas is that, they are light and less erotic than Filipino or Western shows so you can have your whole family watch it. So if you want some feel-good shows, I’ve got a list for you!
While the K-drama boats are sailing, Korean Pop Music slowly trailed in 2009 or 2010 and is popularly known as K-pop. The Philippines had already showed significance to the influence of Western music but the difference between this and K-pop is noticeably clear. The reason why Filipinos are hooked to K-pop is probably because of its unique sound. Even before EDM is mainly used for pop songs, K-pop already has it way back before 2010. K-pop is known for group of individuals who can dance and sing at the same time. Their good looks and unique fashion styles are also the essentials. Some examples are “Gangnam Style” by PSY, “Nobody” by Wonder Girls, “Wolf” by EXO, “I Am the Best” by 2NE1, “Fantastic Baby” by Bigbang and again, there’s a lot more to mention. This genre truly captivated the taste of the youth; in fact, they would imitate the hairstyles, fashion and even learn Korean language!
Before, these Korean influences are labeled weird and stupid in the Philippines—which of course, hurt the most passionate fans. However, criticism did not matter to us and we continued supporting them. Moving forward to 2016, K-dramas began to hit our hearts over again, and this time, more and more Filipinos are hooked compared to the past probably because of the internet where they can watch whatever K-drama they want online. It is so popular today that watching K-drama became a norm—though, of course, reading subtitle should be your specialty!
Along with this, we became a little more accustomed to Korean modern tradition and food. First is the Kimchi, a staple in Korean cuisine, is a traditional side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables. Kimchi can be found in almost every local grocery store. Second is the Ramyeon (or Ramen in Japanese), a type of noodle dish that is seen in K-dramas (eating ramyeon with a guy late at night is considered a date, though!) . Third is the Samgyeopsal (Sam-gyeop-sal), an extremely popular Korean BBQ dish and because the cooking and eating is done on the table, it’s a great social and party food. Korean stores can be found in many places in the Philippines where you can buy Korean traditional food, drinks, junk food and even alcohol—Sujo!
The unique fashion style of these South Koreans also greatly influenced the Filipino Youth, pulling out different looks with multi-colored clothes and hair is a must. Basically, it’s all about mixing your clothes with just any accessory you have and you don’t have to follow the stereotype, you can dress however you want. May be it a polka dots top with a yellow bottom and running shoes, or a dress with a big bow in front. Honestly, just be yourself! That’s how K-fashion works.
Being addicted to these things is not easy for me. I may be called over-acting but to tell you the truth, I’m having slight breakdowns every after a K-drama. Why? The main character is hot and the actor is hot himself! The story gives me another reason to fantasize about having a perfect man and a perfect love life with all that cheesiness in the middle. To me and my fellow fans, not having an actual boyfriend is not a big deal because we are contented with our Korean Oppas (OPPA is a name for a not-too-much older male, or for her beloved Korean man). We were so mesmerized with their physical perfection and the characters they portray that normal guys our age don’t impress us anymore. Unless they could be as perfect as those Oppas, then we will make consideration (lol!). The hardest part is learning a new language. The goal is to be able to watch K-dramas and listen to K-pop without reading subtitles because actually, that’s becoming a burden to us.
Being attached to this culture taught me to be more confident and choose what I prefer. No matter how many people tell me that it is stupid and I should stop this non-sense, it doesn’t matter, just be a fan of anything that captures your heart!
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