Late last year, my friends and I have been contemplating on visiting one of the places that is making a buzz amongst Filipino travelers and adventurers, South Korea. The advent of Korean drama in the early 2000s has made South Korea a premier destination for Filipino and Asian tourists alike. South Korea is one of the places I wanted to visit, not just because of this buzz but because of its colorful history and culture.
Korean fever all began with the airing of the melodramatic Endless Love Autumn in my Heart. The airing of the sequel, Winter Sonata made everyone swooning for Nami Island. This was soon followed by even more Korean drama like Full House, Coffee Prince, Gang Geum, Ju Mong, Boys Over Flowers, City Hunter, Stairway to Heaven, just to name a few.
Each series starred a great looking couple and the women just can’t help but fall for the good-looking Korean actors, who they refer to as their oppas. To the uninitiated “oppa” is how a younger woman addresses an older man, just as “hyeong” is how a younger man addresses an older man. There are just some technicalities in Hangeul which I am no longer going to dig deeper into.
This Korean fever came to full circle with the rise of Korean pop culture and music. Who didn’t dance to Wonder Girl’s Nobody Nobody But Me, or to 2Ne1’s beat featuring no less than Sandara Park who was once part of a Filipino artist search. But that was just the beginning as Psy’s Gangnam Style took the world by storm in 2012. Everyone from every corner of the globe danced to the songs iconic rhythms. It was so popular that it broke records becoming the most viewed YouTube video. Its video is also the first one to be viewed at least one billion times, and eventually the first one to be viewed at least two billion times!
We all thought that the boyband generation was done and over with but here comes the Koreans reviving the boybands with the rise of Big Bang, Super Junior, EXO, U-Kiss, and the latest ones, BTS and WannaOne. By mixing pulsating rhythm and harmonies, they make their audiences the world over dance. Nobody knows what the lyrics mean but still we sing to every song and we let our bodies be overtaken by the rhythm. Girl groups were also formed and popularized. Among the top drawers are Red Velvet, Sistar, Girls Generation, among others.
I, for one, was taken into this Korean fever when I was younger. Both Autumn in my Heart and Winter Sonata made marks on me. However, I didn’t carry on with this and my interest on Korean drama and culture inevitably waned. My friends, on the other hand, like most Filipino women, craved over their so called Korean oppas. But my interest was then piqued again when I watched Descendants of the Sun. This was later followed up by my fascination with The Return of Superman, especially with Daehan, Minguk and Manse.
But there is a huge difference between experiencing Korea through Korean drama and experiencing Korea in person. To close this gap, my friends and I began drafting the plans for a Korean getaway. At first it was just a bit of a joke until we finally agreed on the final dates of our getaway.
Do watch out for the rest of our South Korea adventures in the coming weeks.