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Why Are Filipinos So Swept Up in the K-Wave?

In partnership with FanLife

CLOY, Start-Up, BTS, Blackpink, — you name it, we’ve seen it all. It’s no secret that in recent years, the Philippines has become one of the biggest fans of Korean media. This K-Wave, or Hallyu in Korean, isn’t just sweeping over the Philippines — it’s worldwide.

With Blackpink as one of Coachella’s headliners, making them the first Korean pop group to ever perform at the event, and Parasite nabbing the coveted Academy Award for Best Picture, it’s safe to say that Korean pop culture is here to stay.

Photo from Billboard

Origin Story

In the Philippines, the craze began with the introduction of K-Dramas into national TV. In the early 2000s, K-Dramas like Endless Love, Stairway to Heaven, and Boys Over Flowers sparked an interest in Korean fashion, hair, and trends. From then on, songs and artists from K-Dramas would lead to an interest in the burgeoning K-Pop industry.

Photo from AsianWiki

Groups like Wonder Girls, Super Junior, and 2NE1 (with local favorite Sandara Park) started making their way into the airwaves. Soon enough, K-Pop began to grow an increasingly loyal fanbase within the country.

Photo from KProfiles

Modern Day Evolution

Nowadays, Korean pop culture has pervaded into daily Philippine life. Aside from K-Dramas and K-Pop, Korean beauty trends, fashion, and even food now have a place in modern Philippine culture.

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Photo by C Technical on

We’ll often see a long line of hungry customers outside a samgyup place or a pop-up Korean beauty store promoting the latest skincare trend. Philippine companies have also taken to acquiring popular Korean artists to promote their brands. 

Photo from DiscoverMNL

Commercials on TV show Lee Min-ho promoting Lazada, Blackpink backing Globe, and most recently, BTS repping Smart.

The Big Picture

While many non-believers may not fully understand the country’s obsession with Korean pop culture, it stands that maybe Filipinos feel something deeply relatable with what Korean culture has to offer.  

K-Dramas notably portray the same Asian values that Filipinos have ingrained into their own culture: the importance of family and career, innocent romance, respect for elders, and community. Yet the way Korea portrays these values seem, in some ways, more desirable. The actors and actresses are always good-looking and the dramas, more often than not, end in a happy yet realistic way.

Photo from SeoulHype

Filipinos relate to the basic values that Koreans portray but aspire to practice these values in the way Korea does — with beauty, money, and grace. Even the way Filipinos see themselves have changed.

We’ve continued with the whitening products, but have now added extra steps with Korean masks and serums all in hopes of achieving flawless Korean skin. The influence Korea has had on us transcends style and trends.

Photo from BeautyMNL

Although others may view the introduction of Korean culture into mainstream Philippine culture detrimental to Filipino youth, the younger generation knows that their love and understanding for it has opened up new worlds for them.

We can’t deny that Korean culture gives us the joy and kilig that we wish everyday life would bring.


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