Filipinos in S.Korea 'used to' NK threats

by Cathy Rose A. Garcia,

Posted at Apr 07 2013 01:11 PM | Updated as of Apr 09 2013 01:56 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Most Filipinos living and working in South Korea appear to be unfazed by the recent threats made by North Korea.

Filipino community leaders in South Korea interviewed by said the situation in the country is calm, and not as serious as people in the Philippines might perceive.

Fr. Arvin Mosqueda, who works closely with the Filipino community in Seoul, said some Filipinos are worried about the situation but so far he has not talked to anyone who wants to leave the country because of it.

"Para naman kasing normal lang ang galaw ng mga tao. Siguro dahil ang mga South Koreans ay di nagkagulo o natakot at parang wala lang sa kanila kaya di masyadong naramdaman ng mga kababayan natin ang sobrang takot na magdala sa kanila na mag-decide na uuwi," Mosqueda told in an email interview.

There are around 40,000 Filipinos living and working in South Korea.

Emely Dicolen-Abagat, a Social Welfare Department professor at the Catholic University of Daegu, said while many Filipinos don't think the situation is serious yet, they are also on alert for any eventuality.

"Personally, I don't think it's that serious. Although, we also have to be prepared and alert if the situation worsens. But I don't think it's as serious as it is perceived by people outside Korea. Even Koreans are not worried about it. Business as usual," she said.
North Korea has stepped up its rhetoric against the United States and South Korea in recent days, declaring a "state of war" and threatening a nuclear strike.

Despite this, Dicolen-Abagat noted South Koreans themselves don't appear to be very worried about rising tension in the Korean Peninsula.

‘Barking dogs don’t bite’

"Koreans are not worried at all. Sabi nga ng isa kong estudyante: 'Barking dogs don't bite'," she said.

Many Filipinos who have lived in South Korea for many years have become used to North Korea's threats, which is perhaps why they don't see anything to worry about.

"Di masyadong tensyonado ang mga tao, kahit nagwo-worry baka magka-gyera dahil siguro nasanay na rin sa mga threats ng North Korea. Nagwo-worry kaya laging nakaantabay sa balita pero normal pa rin ang galaw ng mga tao dito. Wala pa akong narinig na umuwi dahil natakot na baka mag-gyera," Mosqueda said.

However, there are a few Filipinos who are thinking of leaving.
"Ito yung mga bago lang dito sa Korea. Pero yung mga medyo matagal na dito, mukhang sanay na sila because this is not the first time that this threat happened. Usually ito rin yung mga pilit nang pina-uuwi ng mga kapamilya at hindi kusang gustong umuwi," Dicolen-Abagat said.

Ana Park, who is married to a Korean, said she only becomes worried when she reads news about North Korea on CNN and other foreign news agencies.

"I feel differently though whenever I talk to Koreans, like my family, neighbors and friends, because they seem to ignore what we are worried about. We are not certain of what's going to happen in the next days or weeks and we can't let the threats rule our daily lives. I'm trying to do what the Koreans are doing and that is to just trust the Korean government, but we also need to be vigilant and prepared," Park said.

Fe Gimarino-Kim, founder and president of the Filipino Korean Spouses Association, said life in Korea is still normal despite the threats aired by North Korea.

"We live a normal life without fear. The Philippine Embassy is vigilant just in case of war. They sent information to the Filipino community to coordinate with the Filipino community leaders in their respective places that most probably the safety exit area is in Busan," Kim said.

Razel Kim, a teacher who is married to a Korean, said her Korean students don't think North Korea will start a war. "They (North Korea) just want to show off daw na powerful sila, which is not naman daw...For me, I am ignoring the issue para di ako ma-wo-worry that much," she added.

The Philippine embassy in South Korea has been in constant contact with the Filipino community leaders regarding the situation. Alert Level 1 remains hoisted, which means Filipinos are advised to stay vigilant.