MANILA, Philippines --- A 37-year-old resident of Seoul was chosen as the lucky passenger to be awarded with airline tickets, hotel accommodations, and tour packages for being the one-millionth Korean passenger to arrive in the country this year.
Ham Kook Nam arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 11:40 am onboard Philippine Airlines flight PR437 from Incheon, South Korea. Little did he know that his name was already chosen by the staff from both the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Philippine Airlines as the one millionth Korean to visit the Philippines.
Related story: PH eyes more Indian tourists
While lining up at the immigration counters, Ham was surprised why newsmen kept on snapping photos of him. As soon as he cleared immigration proceedings, officials from the DOT, PAL, Bureau of Immigration and the Manila International Airport Authority suddenly pulled him to the side and was congratulated by the officials as airport personnel cheered on. It was only then that he was informed that he was the one millionth visitor from Korea who arrived in the country.
For being the o millionth passenger, Ham was given two business class tickets between Manila and Korea courtesy of PAL, a two-night stay at the Shangri-La Spa and Resort in Cebu and several package tours provided by the DOT.
In other news: VIEW: Personal touch missing in Philippine education
Surprised, Ham said he was very proud to become the 1 millionth Korean passenger for 2012. According to Ham, he considers the Philippines as his second home, as it is here in the Philippines that he got his college education and where his family has lived since 1995.
Ham, who spoke fluent English said he attended college at the Mountain View College in Bukidnon taking up Theology. His family has stayed in the country ever since and went into the mining business. Currently, his Korean wife stays in Tagaytay City to take care of their business, while he travels back and forth between Manila and Seoul.
Also read: SPECIAL REPORT: As returns on Philippine markets rise, so do risks
"I feel really great and happy for becoming the one millionth Korean visitor," Ham said. "Filipinos are so good to Koreans. They (Filipinos) are kind-hearted people, like Koreans, and always have a ready smile for everyone."
"Thank you for welcoming each Korean visiting the Philippines. Filipinos are very nice and hospitable. It is this reason why more and more Koreans visit this country." Ham added.
The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington will never be deterred by "acts of violence" as the ambassador was rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. In a brief …