By Cecille Santillan-Visto

WHEN Korean actor and singer Seo Kang Joon first appeared on the reality TV show Roomate five years ago, his quiet charm immediately caught the viewers’ attention, and early on pundits were confident that he had the makings of a full-fledged K-drama star.

After Roommate — where he appeared alongside superstars like actor Lee Dong Wook, 2NE1’s Park Bom, EXO’s Park Chanyeol, emcee and model Lee So Ra and Jackson Wang of Got7 — the 25-year-old Seo went on the star in the college drama, Cheese in the Trap, the Korean adaptation of Entourage, and the romantic piece, The Third Charm.

But his biggest break was Are You Human?, a fantasy rom-com which now airs weeknights over the GMA Network. Mr. Seo plays a robot who impersonates a corporate heir who was embroiled in an intra-corporate dispute before falling into a coma.

He held his first fan meeting — The Last Charm: Seo Kang Joon Live in Manila — at the New Frontier Theater in Quezon City two days before the May 27 launch of his TV series, which ran for 36 episodes in Seoul. He even sang “You are My Love,” which is part of the Are You Human? official soundtrack, to open the show. The Fantagio Entertainment talent could carry a tune very well, as he is heavily trained in acting and singing along with his fellow members of 5urprise, a Korean group.

When he dished out Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” and his version of “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the audience was sold. Singing live and with respectable English diction, Mr. Seo’s rendition is by far the best among Korea actors who have had fan meetings in Manila.

When asked how he feels about his status as an up-and-coming international actor during a press conference on May 24 at GMA Studios, he said he still has a long way to go.

“I don’t think of myself as an international star yet but I just want to thank everyone (who consider me such). The title humbles me but it motivates me to do my best in all projects,” he said.

He is also grateful for his widening fan base, with whom he connects “through social media and fan meetings like this.” He added that he found his Filipino fans “beautiful and friendly.”

Aside from singing three songs, Mr. Seo also played several games with his fans where winning fans won prizes such as a 10-second hug and even the right to stare at him for the same period. The fan who clinched the right to look him eye-to-eye later said she was mesmerized by his brown eyes.

The program also gave the Korean star the chance to eat some Filipino delicacies including lechon (roast pig), leche flan (flan) and empanada (a fried filled pastry), all of which he thoroughly enjoyed save for the vinegar dip used for the Ilocos pastry. He also gamely made his own sago’t gulaman (a beverage made with gelatin and tapioca pearls), which he shared on stage with two fans.

The fan meeting was well organized by CDM Entertainment, and while a “no videography and photography” rule was initially enforced, the producers later allowed fans to video snippets of the event for posterity.

If there was anything that Seo Kang Joon proved during his first fan meeting in Manila, it was his appeal and his sincere effort to reach out to his growing supporters in the Philippines. As his K-drama continues to air locally, more followers will likely fall for his charm .