Korean envoy cites RP-SoKor friendship, econ ties
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – A ranking South Korean official said on Tuesday that the growing friendship between Korea and the Philippines has encouraged more Korean investors and tourists to visit and invest in the country, particularly Subic.
“Korean tourists now compose about 20 percent of those visiting the Philippines and this number is still rising,” said South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Lee Hye Min. “In the same way, Korean investors are expressing their desire to put up investments in the Philippines,” he added.
Min, accompanied by South Korean Economic Councilor Muyoungjoon Kim, visited Subic Bay Freeport for the first time and was welcomed by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman Feliciano Salonga and SBMA administrator Armand Arreza.
Min said during the meeting that the economic relationship between South Korea and the Philippines has developed significantly after Korean shipbuilding giant Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp. (HHIC) established its shipyard in the Subic Bay Freeport in 2006.
“It is the landmark of our friendship,” the ambassador said, referring to the Hanjin investment project that now employs about 18,600 workers.
The ambassador also expressed his wish that the Korean shipyard in Subic, now the fourth largest shipbuilder in the world, will continue to prosper with the Philippine government’s help.
At the same time, the Korean envoy lauded the SBMA for preserving the good natural environment of Subic and maintaining “exceptional peace and order” that are now attracting tourists and investors, especially Koreans.
“Koreans are concerned most about their security, but they are content with what you have in Subic Bay. Because of this, there are many economic opportunities that await the Philippines from our investors, tourists and students,” said Min.
Salonga, meanwhile, told the ambassador that Filipinos are learning to work well with Koreans.
“While you are bringing in investors and tourists to Subic, we provide you with quality service and the best manpower in the region,” Salonga also said.
Meanwhile, Arreza told Min that there are now 183 Korean companies located in the Subic Freeport, including seven language schools whose Korean teaching staff and students now enjoy the safe environment and well-maintained peace and order.
Arreza added that aside from Hanjin, which is currently developing the second phase of its Subic shipyard with an additional $500-million investment, three more major Korean projects have been lined up for construction.
The three are: Resom (M Castle), a complete theme park resort to be established in Morong, Bataan with an initial committed investment of US$1 billion and is expected to be completed in year 2020; Neocove, a 72-hole golf course and resort to be constructed in two phases: Phase 1 will be finished by 2013 with an initial investment of US$300 million, and Phase 2 will be finished by 2020 with an additional US$1 billion investment; and Ocean9 hotel and casino resort with committed investment of US$60 million. (30)