Is Manila the next Myeong-dong?
On Tuesday, Manila City’s Public Information Office broke the news that the city is set to build a “Korea Town” within Malate.
The announcement comes after Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno met with the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Philippines, Kim In-Chul, who cites the camaraderie between the two countries as the fuel that drives the project.
According to Moreno, the construction of Korea Town in the heart of Manila will “strengthen the city’s relations with South Korea” and “showcase Korean culture right in the nation’s capital.”
“We also told His Excellency [Kim In-Chul] about how we benchmarked Myeong-dong’s market’s in Binondo, Manila,” the Mayor also shared.
What started as a vision back in 2019 by then-South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man is now gaining steam. In a couple of years, we could be seeing Korean establishments lining Manila’s streets left and right, bringing more bustle to Manila and boosting its economy in the process.
Though there are already several and smaller enclaves of Korea across the metro – and even beyond, in Angeles City, Pampanga – the fact that this forthcoming Korea Town will receive SoKor’s support might make it look a tad different.
Let’s look at what K-Towns in other countries look like and hope that Manila’s yorme is taking notes:
Toronto’s Korea Town
Canada’s Korea Town is located along a section of Bloor Street in Toronto’s Seaton Village. This Korean commune developed during the 1970s as the city saw an influx of Korean immigrants.
Today, Toronto has the largest single concentration of Koreans in Canada with a population of 53,940, according to the country’s latest census.
London’s Korea Town
Like Toronto, London’s New Malden is also home to a large contingent of Korean immigrants. In fact, this suburb southwest of London has the largest population of Koreans in Europe. That’s why London’s Koreatown is considered the cultural hub for Koreans in the entire UK.
Singapore’s Korea Town
There are two large Koreatowns in Singapore, but the one in the Tanjong Pagar area arguably draws more Korean crowd, earning it the nickname “Little Korea.” The 300-meter stretch of Tanjong Pagar Road along Duxton Hill houses several Korean food outlets and wedding boutiques that offer Korean-themed wedding photography.
Manhattan’s Korea Town
Situated in Midtown Manhattan, adjacent to Fifth Avenue and near the Empire State Building, New York’s Koreatown thrives with life.
Officially nicknamed “Korea Way,” this cultural enclave features rows upon rows of Korean restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, salons, and nightclubs, with a handful of these staying open around the clock.
Los Angeles’ Korea Town
Lastly, there is Los Angeles’ Koreatown which is located in the Greater Los Angeles Area, home to the largest number of ethnic Koreans outside the Korean Peninsula.
While the immigration of Koreas into this Los Angeles locale dates back to the late 19th century, it wasn’t until the late 1960s when the area saw a spike in population, with one Hi Duk Lee opening Olympic Market, the first major Korean grocery store in 1971.
There are a bunch of other bustling Korea Towns all across the globe – in Brazil, Thailand, Japan, Australia, and even Central Asia – and they all serve as testaments not only to the solidarity of ethnic Koreans, but also to the burgeoning Korean influence that’s sweeping the world. And soon, it’s going to be Manila’s turn!