The 70th anniversary celebration of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and South Korea this year started with a free concert in Manila headlined by three K-pop groups together with a Pinoy rock band.
K-pop acts NCT Dream, NOIR and APRIL, and Silent Sanctuary joined the diplomatic community, government officials, guests and fans in marking the important milestone at the 2019 K-pop Friendship Concert in Manila held March 7 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Among the guests were Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man, First Vice Minister Kim Yong-sam of Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST), Ambassador-designate Vasin Ruangprateepsaeng of Thailand, Ambassador Giorgio Guglielmino of Italy, Ambassador Mohammad Tanhaei of Iran, newly appointed Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno, and National Commision for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Commissioner Victorino Manalo.
“Ang taon na ito ay ika-70 taong anibersaryo ng diplomatic relations sa pagitan ng Pilipinas at Korea. Ang Korea ang numero unong source ng turista ng Pilipinas. Ang Korea din ang ikaapat na pinakamalaking trading partner ng Pilipinas. Ang Korean Wave tulad ng K-pop, Korean telenovela, K-toon at K-cosmetics ay sikat sa Pilipinas. Ang isa sa aking trabaho ay pagpapalaganap ng Korean Wave sa bansa. Mahal na mahal ko kayo,” said Ambassador Han.
According to First Vice Minister Kim, the MCST and NCCA have designated 2019 as the Korea-Philippines Year of Mutual Exchange and the K-pop concert in Manila is its opening event. Others events that will be held this year are the Korean Film Festival and Taekwondo Culture Festival.
NCT Dream’s first Manila visit
NCT Dream’s Renjun, Jeno, Jaemin, Jisung and Chenle performed “Go,” “My First and Last,” “We Go Up” and “Chewing Gum” before screaming fans at the concert hosted by Ryan Bang and Kring Elizano-Kim.
Jeno said they are happy to be part of the celebration.
“First of all, we are very thankful and honored to participate in this event. We will show you a great performance,” he said during a press conference before the show.
NCT Dream made their debut in August 2016 with the track “Chewing Gum” and it’s their first time to visit the Philippines.
Asked to name their favorite and most difficult choreography, Chenle said “we really enjoy all our performances. We love performing before our fans. We love performing ‘We Go Up.’”
Jeno revealed they want to be daring with the concept of their future comeback, saying, “We performed cute (concept). But now we want to show our sexiest performance,” he said.
They expressed excitement in performing before Filipino audience.
“It is our first time to visit the Philippines. We are excited to meet our prettiest Filipino fans here,” said Jaemin.
Overwhelmed by the fans’ reaction at the concert, Jisung promised they will come back.
It’s also the first Philippine visit for six-member girl group APRIL composed of Yena, Rachel, Jinsol, Chaekyung, Chaewon and Naeun.
Rachel said “it’s such a great honor to perform here in the Philippines and this is actually our first time to be here so it’s kinda nervous but we’ll try our best.”
APRIL, , which debuted in August 2015, performed “April Story,” “Tinkerbell” and “Oh! My Mistake.”
Last year, Naeun starred in the first season of the hit web drama “A-Teen” and said she “wants to try other projects together with other APRIL members” such as variety shows.
APRIL released their sixth mini-album “The Ruby” last October and Jinsol said their biggest goal is to win their first ever Korean TV music show trophy.
NOIR, composed of Yeonkuk, Junyong, Seunghoon, Yunsung, Siheon, Hoyeon, Daewon, Siha and Minhyuk who all visited Manila last December, said they’re glad to be back.
“Last year we went to the Philippines for our fan meeting and we were impressed by the fans’ support. We are honored to be here as a participant in the K-pop Friendship Concert in Manila,” said Seunghoon.
NOIR made their debut in April 2018 and last January, they announced that Lumiere will be their fandom name.
“Lumiere in French means ‘light.’ Lumiere will be our light,” explained Yeonkuk.
At the concert, the boys performed “Gangsta,” “Gift,” “Airplane Mode” and a cover of BTS’ “Boys in Love.”
It was on March 3, 1949 when diplomatic ties between the two countries started when the Philippines recognized the Republic of Korea (established on Aug. 15, 1948), becoming the first ASEAN member to do so.
This was followed by the Philippines sending 7,400 soldiers to South Korea during the Korean War.
The 2019 K-pop Friendship Concert in Manila was organized by MCST together with the NCCA, Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines and the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines, and produced by Pulp Live World.