Drawn by the tropical weather and pristine beaches, significantly lower cost of living, and proximity, South Koreans are now the top tourists in the Philippines. Besides the short-term tourists, more than 100,000 South Koreans have chosen to permanently reside in the Philippines, making them the largest immigrant population in the country. Recently, a tenuous relationship between these two groups has emerged marked by mutual antipathy. I have overheard many Koreans describe Filipinos as impoverished, lazy, and socially backwards. They appear to have internalized a racial hierarchy whereby they perceive their darker-skinned Asian counterparts as ranking lower on the pigmentocracy scale. Conversely, Filipinos complain incessantly that Korean immigrants and visitors alike are arrogant, rude, and provincial, refusing to learn Tagalog or appreciate, much less respect, local customs. The exclamation, “Fucking Koreans!” has become a familiar refrain by Filipinos in response to being treated as second-class citizens in their own country. This utterance also has a secondary meaning as the one area where Koreans and Filipinos commonly do interact is in the form of sexual relationships.
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