The Korea Times reports that the Jongno District Office has ordered that Filipinos stop holding their Sunday market in Hyewha-dong, based on the concerns of racists concerned citizens.
The marketplace, dubbed “Little Manila,” first emerged in 1997, and takes place every Sunday for Filipinos after attending a mass at the Hyehwa Catholic Church. About 1,200 to 2,000 Filipinos gather at the marketplace, which some consider as a fine example of Korea’s racial harmony.
Father Alvin Parantar, who found out about this first hand, was told why.
“The reasons they gave up us was one, they received complaints from neighbors and pedestrians in the area; two, there were concerns about cleanliness and order; three, they want to redevelop the sidewalk and include a waterfall wall in the area; and four, they want to transfer the market to a new multicultural market,” the priest told The Korea Times over the phone.
Complaints from neighbors and pedestrians? The Hyewha-dong market, the last time I went, looked like any other streetside market–no different than a line of pojang machas in Jongno.
Oh yeah, they’ve been kicking out most all the street food vendors in Jongno.
As far as cleanliness, it looked just as clean, if not cleaner, than any open air Korean market, including Namdaemun Market. The waterfall makes the Jongno District Office look like clown shoes. “Hey, let’s get rid of our cultural richness so we can sanitize and Disney-fy the place. People love artificial waterfalls.”
Keep in mind, that this is what’s considered sidewalk development in the Hyewha-Daehangno area.
And the fourth one about moving to a new multicultural market–really? Are we being this blatant about our aversion to the “dirty Asians?” We have to move them to a ghetto special area removed from the general society? The market is there because it’s next to the church.
Even if I’m being harsh and totally out of line with the bigotry argument, and inspired by bigotry or not, that’s going to be the perception, this is another example of how the government still — doesn’t– get — it. The Hyewha Filipino Market is one of Seoul’s culinary tourist attractions. It’s part of the character that is making Seoul more popular. Redeveloped sidewalks are fine but are only useful if you can keep reckless teen-driven delivery scooters off of them. They’re more of a danger than a tent selling longanisa sausages (Mmm…). Artificial waterfalls reduce character and makes a neighborhood look like it’s amateurishly striving for some attention.
And this obsession with killing off street food that seems to have some roots in the 2002 World Cup is highly irritating. Officials complain that they are embarrassments. I think this stems from one of the core problems the government has in wrapping its mind around how to promote Korean food–an obsession with class status. It ties into why the promoters are so bloody minded in pushing royal court cuisine and pretentious overpriced restaurants onto a world suffering from economic crisis. I bet you in their minds, promoting Korean food isn’t about spreading Korea’s traditions. It’s a method to gain higher class status in the eyes of the world’s yangban elite.
And it looks like the Hyewha Filipino Market is an easy sacrifice for that climb on the imaginary status ladder, only to be replaced by sculptures of poop.
[HT to Extra! Korea]
ZenKimchi article on the Hyewha Filipino Market
UPDATE: It looks like the Filipino ambassador is getting involved in trying to preserve the market.