Gangnam in Angeles City
Daily around 800 South Korean nationals arrive at Clark International Airport. If you happen to be in Angeles City, try to visit Friendship Road, which is located at the Anonas district, and suddenly you’ll feel you are in the Gangnam area of Seoul, South Korea. Almost a kilometer of the road, on both sides, is lined with restaurants, hotels, videoke and grocery stores. On any night, take pictures of the area, post them on Facebook, with the caption “Relaxing in Gangnam.” With all those colorful blinking lights and neon signs in Korean characters livening up the area, you can pull everyone’s leg.
Sangyupsal, kimchi and a few Korean slang words have been added to our local dictionary. Koreans have “invaded” Angeles City and slowly but surely they have built their own community in and around Anonas, taking residence in vacant houses in nearby subdivisions. There may be 15,000 (more or less) of them now living there.
Why are they here? Obviously for various reasons. The fact is, the Korean Peninsula was divided into two states after the Korean War (1950-1953)—the communist North and the American-occupied South. The postwar planners intended the division to be a temporary administrative solution, but to this day the peninsula remains divided and reunification initiatives on both sides have failed.
Also, every now and then, changes in the dynastic leadership in the North—and now coupled with the North’s dogged pursuit to build long-range missiles and a nuclear arsenal, as well as the recent threats from its current “Supreme Leader” to attack the South—instilled a sense of uncertainty and fear among many Koreans. This is one reason many of them are investing in other nations. The experience of the South Vietnamese people during the fall of Saigon in the late sixties after it was overrun by the North Vietnamese soldiers may have also influenced their decision to invest in the Philippines.
Another reason they are drawn to our country is its proximity to theirs, this together with Clark International Airport. One of South Korea’s legacy carriers, Asiana Airlines, and some budget airlines like Jin Air, make regular flights to Clark. The business climate in Angeles City is another attraction.
And talking about attraction, many pretty young Filipino girls are now frequently escorted by Korean gentlemen. It will no longer be a surprise to us if, in the coming years, we will have in mainstream Philippine society “Filkor” children.
With the closure of the US Air Force base in Clark in 1991, gone are the days of the “Fil-Ams.”
MAX L. SANGIL, [email protected]
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