Cover A night market in Korea (Photo: Sava Bobov/Unsplash)

You'll no longer have to fly to Korea to see your favourite stars or satisfy your cravings for K-cuisine - the Philippines' capital is investing in your newest dream destination

The Hallyu or Korean wave has undeniably taken the Philippines by storm. Samgyeopsal restaurants, Kpop and K drama fans, Korean skincare routines, and everything that brings us to the Land of the Morning Calm have overwhelming numbers...here's why.

Many people have attributed the rise of Hallyu wave to the debut performance of K group Seo Taiji & Boys in 1992. Lee Soo-man, a Korean entertainer turned businessman saw an opportunity and said that Koreans should start to market their music as "cultural commodities". During the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the Korean national government made sure that at least one per cent of its entire state budget is allocated to culture. In 1999, it enacted the Basic Law for the Promotion of Culturel Industries which gave birth to a league of passionate individuals devoted to the promotion of Korean culture through entertainment.

Meanwhile, a study titled Beyond the “Fad”: Understanding Hallyu in the Philippines suggested that Hallyu wave arrived in the Philippines through K dramas in the early 2000s. These dramas debuted in GMA7, with The Successful Story of a Bright Girl, as a response to the rival station ABS-CBN‘s successful airing of the Taiwanese drama Meteor Garden

Famous Korean Personalities In The PH

Many K idols and stars have large fanbases in the Philippines, according to a study released by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), BTS, EXO, Blackpink, GOT7, and iKON (respectively) are the most searched groups in the country.  The report said BTS, for example, generated about 28 million buzzes or posts online. Ranking sixth to tenth places are Seventeen, NCT, Twice, Super Junior and actress Song Hye-kyo. 

The Hallyu stars that ranked 11th to 20th are Mamamoo, Song Joong-ki, SHINee, Lee Min-ho, ASTRO, Ji Chang-wook, VIXX, Lee Jong-suk, Suzy, and Gong Yoo. 

See also: 7 Lee Min-ho Movies and Shows You Need To Watch This 2021: The Heirs, TKEM, And More

Korea Town In Malate, Manila

Because the Korean culture is deeply embedded in the hearts of modern Filipinos, the local government of Manila in partnership with the South Korean Embassy decided to put up a Korean hub in the heart of Malate.

"The Manila Koreatown is meant to showcase Korean culture right in the nation's capital. This will also strengthen our relationship with Korea. And I am pretty sure that this project will be supported by both the Filipino and Korean communities," Manila 2nd district councillor Uno Lim, the principal author of Manila Koreatown, told reporters. "Thank you to the Manila City Council and to our Mayor Isko Moreno who approved this ordinance."

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, on the other hand, explained why the local government agreed to build such site in Malate. We are building Korea Town in the Malate area to showcase Korean culture right in the nation’s capital. We also told His Excellency (South Korean ambassador Kim In-chul) about how we benchmarked Myeong-dong’s markets in Binondo, Manila."

Manila Koreatown will have annual cultural activities that celebrate everything Korean: beauty, music, fashion, and food. 

More from Tatler: Unlimited Korean BBQ At OORI, Sheraton Manila

If you're just as excited as we are, check out the list of things you should not miss at the upcoming Manila Korea Town:

1. Korean Arc

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Korean Traditional gate and wall in Gyeongbokgung (Photo: Park Si Hyeon)
Above Korean Traditional gate and wall in Gyeongbokgung (Photo: Park Si Hyeon)

Just like Chinatown in Binondo, Manila, the upcoming Korea Town will have its own arch.

The size, specific location, and the architects of the said architectural landmark have yet to be announced, but people are expecting something as grand as Binondo Chinatown's.

2. Korean Food and Drink Fest

Experience the flavours of Korea!

Korean markets, stalls, and restaurants will be around the hub. Dine with your friends in a place that offers quality samgyeopsal or savour the infamous Bingsu dessert, your choice. 

Related: Korean Food In Manila: OORI At Sheraton

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Korean dishes (Photo: Markus Winkler/Pexels)
Above Korean dishes (Photo: Markus Winkler/Pexels)

3. Beauty Pageants

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(Photo: Kristal Terziu/Pexels)
Above (Photo: Kristal Terziu/Pexels)

Do not miss the opportunity to witness beautiful faces in Manila. A beauty pageant called 'Mr and Ms Manila Koreatown' will be held annually. 

Read more: Miss Universe 2021: Miss Mexico Wins The Crown—Here's Why it Matters

4. Live Performances from Korea's Biggest Idols

You no longer have to fly to Korea to meet your favourite K idols! The officials from Manila Korea Town announced that groups like BTS, Blackpink, as well as K drama stars Lee Min-ho and Crash Landing on You couple Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin are in talks to visit and perform in the hub.

Related: BTS Anniversary: 9 Inspirational Lyrics Even Non-BTS Fans Can Relate To

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SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - MAY 21: BTS attends a press conference for BTS's new digital single 'Butter' at Olympic Hall on May 21, 2021 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images)
Above SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - MAY 21: BTS attends a press conference for BTS's new digital single 'Butter' at Olympic Hall on May 21, 2021 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images)

5. Danoje Festival

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(Photo:  Vladislav Vasnetsov/Pexels)
Above (Photo: Vladislav Vasnetsov/Pexels)

The Danoje festival in Korea is selected as the 13th Important Intangible Cultural Properties of Korea by UNESCO. The event happens on the fifth day of the fifth month of the year according to the Korean lunar calendar.

The fest features rituals that help the land combat upcoming natural disasters and allow citizens to live in peace and harmony. Every year, a large number of tourists attend the event and actively participate in creating Danoje festival fans, brewing the sacred liquor, drawing masks for the Gwanno Mask Drama, and preparing and eating Surichiwi rice crackers.

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