Aftermath: So Ji Sub in Manila “Hello”
March 16, 2019 – New Frontier Theater
True confession: I’m not a fan of So Ji Sub. The last drama of his that I’ve watched was Master’s Sun – in my defense, I have been amiss with my K-drama viewing since 2015 – but I have seen his 2017 movie Battleship Island. However, So Ji Sub is an original Hallyu oppa, back when they were still labeled as “Heavenly Kings”. He belongs to the 2nd batch that includes Kwon Sang Woo and (if I remember correctly) Jung Woo Sung. One of the first Korean dramas that became popular in the Philippines was Memories in Bali (aka. What Happened in Bali?), but the first So Ji Sub drama that I saw was I’m Sorry, I Love You (aka MISA = Mianhada, Saranghanda). Therefore, as a certified Tita of K-Drama (est. 2005), attendance to So Ji Sub’s Manila fanmeet is a MUST.
In a nutshell, So Ji Sub in Manila “Hello” is the most sulit fanmeet of a Korean artist that I’ve ever attended. First of all, the artist is a legitimate top brass entertainer in his home country; it’s not often that a Korean A-lister visits the Philippines for a public appearance. Secondly, SJS is also a recording artist, so I know that he will do more than just sing a song or two, do a short interview, play a few games and dish out some fan service. What I didn’t expect is that his fanmeet doubles as a mini-concert, as well. I know that his music is hiphop, though, so I got disoriented that he opened the show with a rendition of Barry Manilow’s Can’t Smile Without You.
As with nearly all Korean entertainers that I’ve had the pleasure of attending their fanmeets (concerts are a different matter), So Ji Sub looked reserved and rather shy at first. But once he got the hang of it, he turned out to be a wonderfully charming individual who knows which buttons to press to make the audience swoon. I think – and I got to give mad props to her for this – the event host Ms Kring Elenzano-Kim was a big factor to it. Her jokes and antics were a big hit for SJS. So Ji Sub is already a senior artist (by senior I mean he’s been in the industry for so long and not senior as in senior citizen) and he’s his own agency, so I’m guessing they’re more lenient with the do’s and don’ts of Korean fanmeets. Kring can pull off the naughtier jokes and SJS accordingly responded. He was so game with everything that’s happening. Pulp Live got a good Kor-Eng translator, too, and that’s also one of the factors why the event was so much fun. There was camaraderie among all three of them onstage that there weren’t any dead spots nor awkward moments. They looked like they’ve been doing this together all along.
It’s just too bad that we were ordered to put away our cameras at around the 20-minute mark. Only cellphones were allowed from then on. I didn’t want my camera to get confiscated so, law-abiding citizen that I am, I stuffed my monster of a point-and-shoot in my bag and just tried to make do with my cellphone’s cam. My seat was too far away from the stage, though, so I wasn’t able to properly capture the cutesy stuff during the fun games.
The only time I had the guts to break the rules was during the last number of the mini-concert. I figured, they probably won’t be as strict anymore since the show is about to end. Still, I just tried to take photos by stealth. I didn’t know until I sorted my photos at home that my ninja-moves were able to produce some decent shots during the mini-concert, after all. So YAY! for me.
Other random observations:
1. One of my fears whenever there’s a fanmeet of a Korean artist in Manila is what I call the ‘praying mantis’ moment. For those who are new to this blog: ‘praying mantis moment’ refers to incidents of overly-enthusiastic fans who blatantly invade the artist’s personal space in the guise of being “passionate”. This often results to the artist getting too uncomfortable, thus, ruining the moment. Extreme cases result to the incident being reported in K-entertainment sites like AllKpop, etc. For examples, see my Aftermath Reports on Kim Hyun Joong (where I first used the term) and Lee Min Ho’s Manila fanmeets.
For So Ji Sub’s fanmeet, I am very happy to report that no such incident occurred. The lady who won the much-coveted grand prize of a limited-edition necklace and exclusive polaroids was very respectful of SJS’s personal space. She only asked for a handshake, which she got. And then, SJS asked her if he could give her a hug. *cue screams of extreme jealousy from the rest of the fandom* See there, “passionate” fangirls? If you respect the artist, you will get more than what you wanted. I hope we learned something from this.
2. This is one of the few fanmeets of a non-English speaking Korean artist where the star talked a lot and I mean A LOT. I couldn’t stop raving about this. So Ji Sub’s interaction with the host and the audience was so spontaneous and flowed smoothly, you wouldn’t think that there’s a language barrier. He obviously knew that he was being taken for a ride at times (‘mahal kita’ now bears a totally new meaning beginning that night), but he willingly took that ride to entertain the fans. I totally love him for that.
3. I’d put this comment here after re-reading the aforementioned praying-mantis links: It’s so refreshing that I attended an event of a non-Pinoy artist where he was not asked about what he thinks about Filipino women.
4. Most of the attendees belong to the category ‘Titas of K-Drama’. Which is fine, because it means that a good percentage of the audience are those who knew So Ji Sub even before Oh My Venus, or Terius, or even Master’s Sun. I was one of those who raised her hand when Kring asked if there’s anyone in the audience who first knew SJS from Memories of Bali. Tita of K-Drama, and proud of it!
5. And since most of the audience are older, I was afraid that the mini-concert won’t get a good reception as it’s going to be hip hop. Surprise! Loud screams erupted when we heard the opening strains of iKON’s Love Scenario. Of course, the energy isn’t as loud and lasting as in a Kpop concert with kids in the audience, but it’s good enough for So Ji Sub. The event ended on a high note.
All in all, it was a great night. It certainly is worth the ticket price. Thank you so much, Pulp Live World, for bringing So Ji Sub to Manila.
I was able to take some (“some” ) photos before we were asked to put our cameras away. I uploaded them all on my Facebook gallery. Please do check them out.
For more of my Aftermath Reports on K-pop/K-Drama events, please visit my K-pop Events Aftermath page.