A Filipino senator on Tuesday said he is confused by the appeal of Korean dramas when his countrymen are “more handsome” than South Koreans, according to a report.
Sen. Robin Padilla, a former action star, made the remark during a Philippine Senate hearing on the 2023 budget of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).
“I don’t understand [the appeal of these K-dramas], because when we look in the mirror, we’re clearly more handsome than South Koreans. Our faces haven’t been altered by plastic surgery; this nose of mine has been punched many times and it’s never gotten fixed,” Padilla said, as translated by the local newspaper Rappler. “Why, then, do our countrymen prefer Korean works over our own?”
In response, FDCP chairperson Tirso Cruz III, who is a former matinée idol, noted that while he believes that Filipino actors and filmmakers are better, Korean dramas hold more appeal as they are well ahead of the Philippines in terms of technology and preparations.
“It’s likely because [the Korean entertainment industry] had years to really develop their craft. What people see now in their industry was something that took actually years to hone. I do believe we Filipinos are better as filmmakers, as actors, but maybe it’s because we’ve been left behind technology-wise and preparation-wise that we can’t be at par with them now,” Cruz said.
Padilla’s remarks came the same day another Filipino senator, Jinggoy Estrada, proposed putting a ban on Korean dramas and foreign films. In his statement, which he also made during the FDCP hearing, Estrada said he was frustrated that Filipino artists are losing jobs because of the public’s “lack of support” for local entertainment.
“In my observation, if we continue showing these Koreanovelas, our citizens will support these Korean celebrities instead, while our Filipino artists lose jobs and income,” the senator said. “So sometimes, I do consider proposing a ban on these foreign works, so that it would be our talented Filipino artists who will be appreciated in our own country instead.”
Estrada received backlash for his suggestion, with Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla arguing that the local film industry should instead “learn and take inspiration” from the successes of Korean dramas. Chito Miranda, the founder and lead singer of the famous Filipino band Parokya ni Edgar, also slammed Estrada’s proposal, adding that the Philippines should instead focus on “coming up with better shows and songs” than targeting foreign acts.
Korean dramas have seen great success and international recognition over the past years. In 2020, Korean director Bong Joon-Ho’s movie “Parasite” became the first foreign language film to win the Best Picture award at the Oscars. The movie also earned Bong a Best Director trophy, making him only the second Asian to win the award.
Last year, Netflix‘s survival series “Squid Game” also made waves, with more than 111 million viewers globally. The series later became the first foreign-language show to win top honors at the 74th Emmy Awards. Actor Lee Jung-jaw won the Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama Series, becoming the first person to take the award for a non-English performance.