MANILA, Philippines - Even before people begin comparing them, model-turned-DJ Jinri Park acknowledges that Grace Lee paved the way for Koreans to get big breaks in the local broadcast industry.
"I look up to her and even Sandara Park. Without them, people won't appreciate me as much," said Jinri, a Korean who relocated to Cebu at age 6, then to Manila a couple of years ago.
Though Jinri and Grace work for rival radio stations, the former is open to meeting the latter and, perhaps, even hang out with her.
Like Grace, Jinri feels she's more Korean than Filipino to the point that she felt quite "left out" when she returned to and stayed in Korea for a couple of years.
"I look Korean but I've adapted the Filipino way," she said. "Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud of my country but my mind set is Filipino. I love the Filipinos --- they are so warm and friendly."
She does her part in promoting Korean culture in the Philippines. Jinri plays K-pop music in her radio program and has even hosted an event featuring big K-pop artist, Jay Park, whom she describes as "super down to earth." Other K-pop artists that she admires are Big Bang, Girls Generation and GOD (Groove Over Dose).
"K-pop is fresh. The artists have unique fashion sense and their songs are very 'LSS' [Last Song Syndrome] with dance moves that are easy to learn," she said.
The DJ is also a big fan of OPM. She admits having lots of musician friends and even watches their gigs whenever she has time.
Jinri's career picked up after she was featured in FHM last year. These days she is working on breaking into acting. She is brushing up on her Tagalog, which, she knows, is her key to getting roles.
"I'm not fluent in Tagalog but I can understand it. No, I also speak 'gamay' (little) Cebuano because we usually spoke in English when I was there," Jinri said.
The Korean beauty currently endorses KBOP, a Quick Korean Grill that has on the menu such items as KBOP Grilled Chicken, Bulgogibop, Kalbi Gui, Bibinbop and Chaddipanne.
"It's 80% authentic Korean though we did tweak the flavors a bit to suit the Filipino palette," said KBOP owner Melchor Gozum, who had just opened its SM North EDSA branch. "Kung authentic Korean kasi, masusunog ang dila mo because they like it really spicy."
Jinri loves Korean dish Chapchae but she also goes gaga over Halo-Halo, Pansit Canton, Sinigang and Pinakbet.
"I'm vegetarian and though Filipino cuisine has lots of meat, I still have my favorites," she said.
KBOP also has a branch at The Venice Piazza in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.