By Cecille Santillan-Visto
WHEN BENCH announced that Park Seo Joon was scheduled for a fan meeting in Manila last month, thousands of frenzied Korean drama addicts spent sleepless nights strategizing on how to get first dibs at the tickets that would give them the chance to meet the K-celebrity up close and personal.
In previous fan meetings of Lee Min Ho, the fans who shopped the fastest qualified. For Meteor Garden’s Dylan Wang, a P20,000 minimum purchase made at the Bench Tower assured a stage slot for them while the first 100 shoppers at the Mall of Asia outlet secured a hi-touch pass with Park Hyung Sik.
For the 30-year-old Seo Joon, the mechanics were simple. The first 100 fans to purchase P10,000 worth of merchandise from the Bench store at Bonifacio High Street could score meet-and-greet tickets. But the lifestyle and fashion brand did not expect the deluge of fans who wanted to clinch the golden tickets. Throngs camped outside the store overnight waiting for it to open the next day, causing confusion among onlookers who thought there was a scheduled massive sale.
In the end, only 100 lucky fans made the cut. But thousands of others who made the minimum purchase also qualified for entrance tickets to see Seo Joon live at the SM Mall of Asia.
Before the main event, the Hwarang star held a press conference at The Peninsula Manila, where he admitted that he was surprised to find out that he had a huge fan base in the Philippines.
“Through social media, I was aware that I have some fans in the Philippines. It was really when I was asked to be a Global Benchsetter, to endorse the brand, that I knew that I may have a sizeable following here,” said Mr. Park, through host-translator Sam Oh.
The What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim actor said he was honored to be have been appointed as a Bench brand ambassador, which gave him the opportunity to work with a team outside Korea. He said although there are numerous apparel lines in Seoul, it would be great to have Bench penetrate the Korean market.
Asked for some fashion tips, the actor-model said that while he is far from being a fashion guru, his best advice is to exude confidence.
“It is also important to understand your body type and try as many [pieces of] clothing as possible so that you know, in the process, what looks good on you,” he said, adding that he prefers comfortable outfits that allow him movement considering that he is always on the go.
Tall, lean, and with a glowing complexion, the actor is a favorite endorser of other fashion brands both in and outside Korea.
He is currently filming Itaewon Class, which requires him to portray a character who ages from his teens until he turns 35. The webtoon-based drama replete with life lessons will be shown next year. He cited Fight For My Way, where he played an aspiring mixed martial arts fighter that required him to train prior to the shoot, as his most challenging role to date.
“There’s a little bit of me in all the characters that I portray. But it doesn’t mean that these characters are me but because there are little bits of me in these characters, I exaggerate when I portray,” Mr. Park explained.
The Mall of Asia Arena was packed full for his fan meeting on Sept. 29. He played several games with the fans, including Pinoy Henyo, gave away gifts, and accommodated fans’ request for aegyo, or the display of cute gestures. He even allowed some members of the audience to ask him questions. He also shared a lot more information about himself during the Q&A with Ms. Oh, confessing that he believes in destiny and that he is very fond of his dog, Simba.
There were a number of interesting sidelights during his fan meeting, which may well be one of the best Bench events to date. Actress Ai Ai De Las Alas professed her love for Seo Joon and admitted to being ecstatic at seeing him live.
Suyen Corp. chairman and founder Ben Chan was also at the fan meeting, joining Seo Joon during the photo opportunity.
Mr. Chan has been appointing several Korean stars as Global Benchsetters. After Mr. Park, Goblin star Gong Yoo and Ji Changwook of the Empress Ki and The Healer fame are expected to follow suit and hold their own events in Manila.
But for now, Bench stores and gigantic EDSA billboards have Park Seo Joon as its brand ambassador.