An air of quiet efficiency

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

THERE is an air of quiet efficiency around Jongwook Park, the new regional manager of Korean Air. His company has nine flights weekly in and out of Cebu, catering mostly to Koreans who come here to learn the English language.

Aside from these students, he said there are about 30,000 Koreans now residing in Cebu, and 80,000 in Metro Manila, who also fly in and out of the country, depending on their needs.

That the Philippines has become a favored travel destination by Koreans is partly due to the proximity of the country. Park said it takes only about four hours to get here and back, and Korean tourists can comfortably come here for weekend vacations.


And there are the excellent English (as a second language) schools, especially now that knowing English is a must to get ahead in the Korean work place. In fact, Korean Air no longer accepts applicants who do not have English language proficiency because the company is global, and any employee might be sent anywhere in the world where Korean Air flies. Like Park.

Park has been with Korean Air Lines for 20 years. Born in Seoul, he has a degree in French literature and language from ChungAng University.

Except for a brief assignment in Bangkok, Park has mostly been assigned in Korea. Cebu is his second assignment out of his country, and it is a promotion for him, jumping from sales manager to regional manager. He expects to be in Cebu for four years and has brought with him his wife and son (who will enroll at the International School).

He says he likes his job because it makes him “feel appreciated” when passengers take time to tell him and his staff and airline crew that they have done a good job. Also. it makes it possible for him to travel anywhere in the world at “less cost.”

Park has been in Cebu for two months and he says he likes Cebu’s blue sky and white clouds, which he seldom sees in Korea. And he finds the people warm-hearted. He observed that Cebuanos know how to relax and enjoy life. Work-wise, his only complaint is the congestion at the Cebu airport with about five airlines coming in at about the same time, making for long lines at the terminal.

He expressed the wish to know and explore Cebu more. Already, he has been to Oslob for whale-watching and plans another out-of-town trip soon, this time to Kawasan Falls. He has also tried Cebu cuisine and particularly likes crispy pata, kangkong, Bicol Express and calamares. Soon he will be acquainting himself with Cebu’s golfing places.

As regional manager of Korean Air, Park aims to introduce “beautiful Cebu” to Koreans as best as he can and he will do his best to provide safe and comfortable travel for Filipinos who fly Korean Air (which will soon fly to Houston, Texas). If given the chance, Park added, he would like to play a role in promoting friendship between the Philippines and Korea.

Here is one manager who not only thinks of the business at hand, but also of the relationship between his host country and his native land.

Welcome to Cebu, Park.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 07, 2014.


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