The Koreans started coming to Angeles City in the late nineties. So, sangyupsal, kimchi and anyeongsayo we commonly hear now. The Koreans in the city slowly but surely built their own communities in and around the spine road of Friendship Highway in Barangay Anunas. In this particular stretch,particularly during nighttime and with all those neon light dancing in Korean characters you’ll feel that you are in the Seoul. It is dotted by many restaurants which in some way many locals patronizing because the residents somehow already developed a taste of the Korean cuisine.
Early on, this road was thus so-called Friendship road becaue of the ties between the local residents of Angeles City and the neighboring American soldiers then of Clark Air Force Base. ( Btw. It wasn't the Americans who funded the road but by the combined funds of Clark Development Corporation and the Department of Public Works and Highways). Before that there were souvenir shops catering mostly to American families and preceded the Korean establishments. The Americans were forced to abandon their military base by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991. And it was only in 1993 that it became an economic zone.
Clark made huge comeback starting 2001. Beyond mere recovery, foreign investors started coming particularly during the leadership of then CDC chairman Roy Navarro with Chichos Luciano replacing Philippine Air Force generals who were never successful in running the airport. Our team made many trade missions and air services agreements (ASA). The vast potential of the economic zone further stoke the prosperity of the nearby communities like Angeles and Mabalacat cities. SM mall was established during our incumbency at CDC, and it's my bragging right that me and the then Vice President for technical services Pepito 'Pip' Galang joined hands in developing Bayanihan Park. SM Prime Central provided an advance rental and the then VP for financial services Noel Manankil saw that funds were always made available so the park was finished on schedule.
The Korean investments became significant over the years and gated housing subdivisions particularly in Barangays Cuayan and Anunas were built. As a consequence, grocery stores and restaurants multiplied. Very prominent now are the coffee shops. Their beautiful interior is so awesome and features several function rooms ideal for small meetings. Most of the Korean coffee shops are so lighted even on daytime that they attract customers and enjoy their brew, pastries and sandwiches. They are so well patronized. I want to believe that Angeles City and Clark Freeport have more coffee shops than anywhere in the country, including Bonifacio Global City.
The other reason why mostly they are settled here in Angeles City and some moved to Baguio City, Metro Manila and in Cebu City in the south is because of proximity. The activation of the Clark International Airport have contributed largely to the coming of the Koreans. One of their legacy carriers, Asiana Airlines and some budget airlines make regular flights to Clark Freeport now. Besides the proximity, the business climate in Angeles City is another attraction. There is a side effect though. The price of real estate increased by ten fold. Lucky for large estate owners in the area like businessman Ruperto Cruz.