By Genalyn Kabiling
The K-pop fever has reached Malacañang.
President Duterte has received an album of BTS, a popular South Korean boy band, as a present from South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man in Malacañang last Monday.
The ambassador paid a courtesy call on the President days before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Korean commemorative summit in Busan from November 25 to 26. Duterte is expected to join other leaders in the upcoming summit.
“Korean waves, K-Pop, Koreanovela, K-food, and Korean cosmetics is spreading across this country, and it’s my job to galvanize the Korean culture in the society of the Philippines,” Han said in a media forum Tuesday at the Palace.
“Just yesterday when I met President Duterte, I gave him one BTS album. BTS is one of the very famous idols. This will give a good impact to have a better relationship between Korea and the Philippines,” he added.
The President thanked the ambassador for the gift and reportedly plans to show the BTS album to his daughter Veronica.
In the meeting with the President, Han said they also discussed a wide range of issues, including efforts to boost trade and economic cooperation and people-to-people exchange.
He recognized that the two countries have enjoyed “excellent” relations since diplomatic ties began in 1949.
“Korea is number four trading partner, number one in foreign arrivals. Many Filipinos love Korean music, Korean telenovelas, and vise-versa. Many Koreans love this country, how can I say in Tagalog ‘Mahal na Mahal ko kayo, Filipinos,'” he said.
“There are much potential to develop our relationship in many different sectors. So as somewhat Korea will continue to upgrade, to elevate our existing relationship to a high level between the two countries,” he added
Han said he made a promise to President Duterte to bring up two million Korean tourists during his term.
To Filipinos planning to visit South Korea, he said the embassy has simplified the visa processing to facilitate the entry of more tourists.
“While many Filipinos visit Korea, last year around 450,000 Filipinos visited Korea but this year more than 500,000 Filipinos will be visiting Korea,” he said.
“So to facilitate their visa, I simplified the visa process and I asked my staff to issue five to 10-year multiple visas as many as possible, so that will facilitate our people-to-people exchange,” he added.