Extra! Korea

February 17, 2010

Filipino community leaders collect signatures to save “Little Manila”

Filed under: expatriates, multicultural society, xenophobia — extrakorea @ 12:36 pm

Zen Kimchi has a post with snippets about the latest measures to attempt to save “Little Manila” (as well as Filipino cooking).

You might recall that the “Little Manila” market is being threatened with closure, and the Filipino ambassador is getting involved in the efforts to save it. In the latest development, community leaders are starting a drive to collect signatures.

The Jongno District Office had cited complaints from residents and storeowners regarding the cleanliness, orderliness and traffic in the area, as reasons why the market should be closed.

Look at this video below. To those of you who live in South Korea, does this look especially dirty or disorderly, especially when compared to other outdoor markets? I see far worse at the little plastic tables outside my local convenience stores.

The petition also highlighted the Filipino market’s contribution to multiculturalism in Korea. While the majority of market-goers are Filipinos, there are also a number of Koreans and foreigners who are visiting the market to sample Philippine food such as barbecued meat, stir-fried noodles, fried banana and rice cakes.

“Even Koreans, who have been to the Philippines, come here to buy pancit (stir-fried noodles) or balut (duck egg),” said another Filipino vendor, who did not want to be identified.

Several vendors interviewed by The Korea Times expressed their willingness to cooperate and make improvements, in order to prevent the market’s closure or transfer.

[ snip ]

“We’re aware that there are some complaints because there are really a lot of people in the street, especially when the mass ends around 3 p.m. But it’s only a once a week market, and we’re more than willing to cooperate with any changes they want us to make,” said Wilbert, a Filipino vendor who lives in Bucheon.

Many Filipino workers from different parts of Korea travel to Seoul on Sundays just to go to church and shop at the market. The Filipino EPS Workers Association (FEWA) is one of the organizations trying to gather signatures for the petition to save the market.

FEWA President Marcy Serdena said the market has become an important part of Filipinos’ way of life in Korea.

“We go here every Sunday, even if it is far, just to go to church, buy food and meet other Filipinos. … I think they should first try to make sure the market is orderly and impose discipline among the vendors. This can be resolved through discussions, and not immediate closure,” Serdena said.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask. The question is: Is the Filipino community going to be allowed to enjoy their culture to try to cope with homesickness and culture shock, or are they only good for doing dangerous labor in factories and being baby machines for unmarriageable Korean bachelors?

Under the Times’ article, I noticed this comment by “jsburgeson” (J. Scott Burgeson):

Mayor Oh Se-hoon, if you close down Little Manila, Seoul City will lose a big part of its soul. And if you do go ahead and close it, don’t you dare use the world “multiculturalism” in any more of your city slogans.


  1. […] in the near future. I’ve blogged about this excellent once-a-week market before, while Extra Korea, Buhay sa Korea, and ZenKimchi have already weighed in. Since we’re all quoting from the same […]

    Pingback by On Filipinos, markets, and forced relocations » The Hub of Sparkle! — February 18, 2010 @ 3:50 am

  2. I am a Filipino in Manila. I would like to thank you for posting this in your blog. We are a peace-loving people and we believe in amicable settlement. Here in the Philippines, there are tons of Koreans but we let them live here and share our way of live. I don’t understand why this needs to happen to my fellowmen who we regard as our ‘modern heroes’. I hope Mayor Oh Se-hoon (and other Koreans as well) respect the Filipinos working very hard to provide for their family. I honestly would like to react with your statement “or are they only good for doing dangerous labor in factories and being baby machines for unmarriageable Korean bachelors” but i guess, it is true in some sense. I truly hope we, Filipinos would rise from the usual negative perception that other countries have on us and that we let our true soul as Filipinos shine through.

    Comment by Maggie — February 18, 2010 @ 12:49 pm

  3. A thread at Dave’s ESL Cafe (www.daveseslcafe.com) has started about the closure:

    Save Little Manila!

    Comment by Bobby — February 19, 2010 @ 3:49 am

  4. […] Manila,” the outdoor market that is erected every Sunday by Filipino* residents, had been threatened with closure, but has earned a respite, at least for the time being. Jongno District Office in Seoul has […]

    Pingback by “Little Manila” won’t be closed … for now « Extra! Korea — March 18, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

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