11 June 2010

Korean Pop Invades the Philippines

So I was watching TV here and there was one thing that I have noticed. It seems that Filipinos are so into Korean pop culture nowadays, that I am quite surprised. It started with the infusion of Filipino-dubbed Korean soap operas, and I have seen these even when I was still living here, which was five years ago. Now, even Korean music is gaining ground.

I was watching a local music video channel, and in all the countdowns, Korean pop music was being featured. And what I find amazing is that they even have the lyrics for the songs written on the screen! If that says something, that means that there are Filipinos who are attempting and perhaps succeeding in singing along to these songs. Now Korean isn't a language that Filipinos are proficient in, so any type of proficiency in this language should be the result of diligent effort.

It brings to mind my undergraduate experience. I was a linguistics major in undergrad, and my department offered several tracks. I selected the Linguistics track, but there are other people who can select a Linguistics and East Asian Languages track, where their curriculum would also involve learning a foreign language from East Asia. At the time, I opted out of it, since I was already proficient in Japanese, so what's the point.

Anyway, the latest trend for the department was to offer not only Japanese as a language that would fulfill this track, but also Korean. And enrollment of the department also ballooned to numbers that were beyond comprehensible: there are more and more people who wanted to learn an East Asian foreign language.

I am not saying that this trend is bad. But as with every new development, sometimes, one needs to step back and wonder what exactly is the cause of this. And why now and not before? So what variable has changed for the Filipinos to be so entrenched in Korean pop culture? At this time, I don't know. I haven't spent lots of time here to actually formulate a hypothesis. But comparing the Philippines I know from five years ago to what I see today, this is definitely something different.

(Teatro de Cristobal Colon, from my Bogotá, Colombia Series)


  1. I must admit I have no idea what Korean pop sounds like. I think Taiwan pop is still popular in China, I haven't heard much about Korean music.

  2. Zhu,

    It's mostly dance pop, think along the lines of Britney Spears back in the early 2000s before she went electronic.