Press Release
March 11, 2009

Gordon hopes for stronger bilateral ties with South Korea

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today expressed optimism that despite the global financial crisis, Philippine tourism would further flourish with the entry of more Koreans into the country.

Gordon, former tourism secretary, said he hopes that South Korea would remain as the top source of tourist arrivals in the country, as he noted the significance of the celebration of the 60th Philippines-Korea Friendship Day.

"South Korea is one of the most enduring and closest partners of our country. Marking the 60th anniversary of the forging of bilateral ties between us is a very important milestone in the history of our countries," he said.

"Milestones like this offer an occasion for us to revisit our past and take stock of our accomplishments in order to chart a clearer path for our future," he added.

In 2008, around 611,000 Koreans visited the Philippines making South Korea the Philippines ' top source of tourist arrivals for three years running.

South Korea accounted for 19 percent of the total RP inbound followed by U.S. with 18 percent and Japan with 11 percent. South Korea is likewise the country's top source of foreign students and retirees.

This year, 2009, has been declared as the official "Philippines-Republic of Korea Friendship Year" and March 3, 2009 as RP-Korea "Friendship Day.."

Bilateral relations between the two countries started on March 3, 1949 when the Philippines became the fifth country to recognize the newly established Republic of Korea, which was inaugurated six months earlier on August 15, 1948.

With the outbreak of the Korean War a year later, the Philippines joined a 16-nation coalition under the auspices of the United Nations Command (UNC) to help South Korea defend itself from the invasion of the communist North.

The Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea landed in Busan on September 19, 1950 and became the third UNC ground combat unit to extend military assistance after the United States and the United Kingdom

In recognition of the Filipino soldiers who had come to their country's aid and gave their lives during the Korean war, the Korea Freedom League donated a 40-foot Lapu-Lapu statue.

The senator tagged the statue as "Asia's Statue of Liberty" and fought for it to be placed at the Rizal Park since Lapu-Lapu was the first Filipino to defeat a foreign invader.

Gordon pointed out that South Korea is one of the country's strong economic partners, providing employment for some 14,532 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in 2007, based on statistics from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

Aside from providing employment in Korea, over 900 Korean companies are currently operating in the Philippines, such as Hanjin Heavy Industries, Korea Electric Power Corp., Samsung, LG and Easter Group, among others and providing jobs

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