By Cecille Santillan-Visto, Text and photos
Fiancée Jung Joon Young Fan Meeting in Manila
ABS-CBN Vertis Tent, Quezon City
Prince Tao The Royal Fan Convention
Cinema 6, SM City North EDSA, QC
KOREAN POP fans know Jung Joon Young as the wacky yet competitive member of the reality-variety show, 2 Days 1 Night (2D1N). Every Sunday evening, he — along with five other regular cast members — entertains audiences worldwide with various challenges as the show also showcases suburban Korea.
But there are more facets to Mr. Jung than just his membership in the 2D1N rat pack. He is a rock musician who has established a relatively successful career both as a solo artist and with his band, Drug Restaurant. He is also an actor, with several television series and one film, Love Forecast, under his belt. The 29-year-old former Superstar K4 contestant is likewise a professional gamer.
It was his rocker persona, however, which shone the brightest during his first fan meeting in Manila at the ABS-CBN Vertis Tent last Saturday.
He was the epitome of cool as he emerged from backstage wearing a statement dress shirt, left hand in his pocket and his right holding the microphone. He was in full rocker mode when he sang “The Sense of An Ending,” the title track of his first mini album released in October 2013. His voice was solid and the effortless singing was unexpected. It was great to hear him live.
During the two-hour fan meeting, he had the opportunity to sing four more songs and played at least one game with the fans. In keeping with the “Fiancée” concept of the fan meet, he was asked to describe his ideal girl — tall or short, length of hair, and fashion style, among others. The ladies were pruned until only six who fit the criteria were left. They were invited onstage to answer questions on Mr. Jung’s life and career.
For fans of JJY the singer, more than the opportunity to meet him up close, his excellent choice of songs was what made the event worth its price.
He sang “Fiancée,” “Becoming Dust,” “Sympathy,” and “Spotlight Mind” which are some of his biggest hits. While it would have been better if he was performing with his band, his followers, who he calls the “Jungbrahimovic,” had to be content with just him on stage.
Mr. Jung, who briefly lived in the Philippines and can speak a bit of Filipino, was in Manila in July to attend the press launch of Hello K-Idol, a talent reality show produced by Viu Philippines. As then promised, he returned to mingle with fans, which he was unable to do in his last visit.
When asked about his plans for 2019, the playful celebrity replied: “I hope I am still alive next year.” However, he quickly recovered and told fans that he will be releasing new songs in the coming months. The audience were excited for this comeback and relieved that he has recovered from the stigma caused by sexual assault charges which were eventually dismissed but saw him go on a self-imposed hiatus in late 2016.
Impressively fluent in English, the fans were amused to learn that he is very familiar with a number of local places. He is likewise fond of kare-kare, which he downs with his favorite San Miguel beer.
He said he will return to Manila possibly for a concert with Drug Restaurant, which he hopes the Filipino audience will anticipate.
Mr. Jung’s visit over the weekend showed that not even the biggest controversies can put an excellent performer down. He has retained the trust of his fans, and apparently gained an even bigger following. The star from South Korea will definitely continue to rock on.
A TASTE OF THAILAND
It is not enough that the Philippines is deluged by Korean artists with concerts and fan meetings held on a regular basis. The Thai entertainment industry wants to get in on the revenue-generating action and has started to also bring its artists in Manila.
Over the weekend, a popular Thai singer-actor staged his first fan event outside his home country, which could pave the way for more Bangkok-based talents to enter the local entertainment arena.
Sattaphong “Tao” Phiangphor was in Manila for his “Prince Tao The Royal Fan Convention” at SM North EDSA. A product of a talent survival program, True Academy Fantasia Season 8, his popularity in the Philippines skyrocketed when played the role of Prince Ian in the Thai adaptation of the Korean drama, Princess Hours, which was shown on local prime time TV.
The 28-year-old Tao told media at a press conference that he was “surprised” to discover that he has a solid Filipino following, who clamored to bring him here for a show.
“They were tagging me on social media and then I started to see the (show’s) ratings in the Philippines started to rise… I am really happy to be here. It’s my first time,” he said.
Even if it was his first overseas fan meeting, Tao was relaxed and comfortable interacting with his Filipino fans. Though ably assisted by an interpreter, he appeared to be conversant in English. During the two-hour fan meeting that was mostly attended by followers of lakorn, or Thai series or dramas, he sang three numbers, had three costume changes, and played at least three games with fans — “Speak Like A Princess, “Walk Like a Princess,” and “Eat Like a Princess.” In the last game, Tao taught his fans a Thai phrase.
He opened with “Mee Kum Eun Mai” (“Are There Any Other Words”), a Thai number, wearing a blue pin-striped suit radiating his princely persona. He also sang “Your Love (The Greatest Gift of All),” a Jim Brickman original, which is also part of the official soundtrack of Princess Hours. Tao likewise showcased his dancing skills with “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” complete with back-up dancers.
He also tried some Filipino food while onstage including bibingka (a rice cake), kare-kare (a stew made with peanut sauce), and the infamous balut (duck embryo), and accommodated fans with hi-touch and photo sessions.
During his late-night media meeting last Saturday, reporters learned that the actor-singer is also a fledgling businessman, and has his own skincare line. His company, Double Tree, was established some two years ago after he took an interest in whitening creams. He wanted his own business and worked with a licensed dermatologist to develop products under his beauty line.
Urawadee Sriphiromya, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Royal Thai Embassy, said she expects more events to be held in the Philippines featuring Thai artists in the run up to the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2019.
Prior to Tao, Thai celebrities Mario Maurer, Baifern Pimchanok, and 2PM’s Nichkhun also held sold-out fan meetings. In November, Chanon Santinatornkul, one of the leading characters in the film Bad Genius, will also hold his own fan convention in Manila.
“We want our Filipino friends to also experience what Thailand has to offer, not only in entertainment but in terms of our culture,” said Ms. Sriphiromya.
So “Sawasdee” may soon be as much a part of the common Pinoy’s vocabulary as Korea’s “Annyeong.” No small thanks to Tao, TV’s Royal Highness.