By Cecille Santillan-Visto
Vagabond Voyage in Manila
(2019 Lee Seung Gi Asia Fan Meeting)
New Frontier Theater, Cubao, QC
KOREAN STAR Lee Seung Gi is one of the few celebrities who can really do almost everything. He is a multi-awarded actor, singer, host, and a favorite guest of reality shows and is also known in K-entertainment circles as a “triple threat.” The 32-year-old entertainer is also among the most bankable K-endorsers, selling almost anything from milk tea and ready-to-wear, to cosmetics and coffee. He was also at one point the face of Mercedes Benz, proving that while he can appear to be reckless in many television appearances, he also exudes class. He is a screen idol that appeals to almost all age groups, and his squeaky clean image has earned him the tag, “Nation’s Little Brother.”
And Korea allowed this little brother to finally visit the Philippines via a fan meeting at the New Frontier Theater on Oct. 12. He has been making the rounds of Asian countries as part of his Vagabond Voyage tour and Manila was among his stops.
This writer has been a fan of Mr. Lee since the onset of his career, having watched him in Shining Inheritance, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, King 2 Hearts, and Gu Family Book, among others. It was heartbreaking to see him take a mandatory hiatus to serve in the military but he returned with a vengeance upon his discharge two years ago. He went on to star in Korean Odyssey and his latest blockbuster, Vagabond, on which his Asia tour is anchored.
His Manila fan meeting can be summed up in one word — it was fun.
He unabashedly answered the questions of host Sam Oh, gamely played with his fans, went down from the stage to take photos at a select part of the venue, and, at the tail end of the event, dished out a concert-level performance to the delight of the audience. In fact, the “Ballad Prince” brought down the house with his live rendition of “Let’s Go On A Vacation.”
For his opening song he sang “Because You’re My Woman,” which was his debut single. While it was a bit disappointing that he did not perform the rather cheeky “Losing My Mind,” he made up for it by dancing excerpts of Trice’s “T T” and “Honey” by Park Jinyoung (JYP).
The former Strong Heart host, where he moderated a free-for-all talk show, and ex-mainstay of 2 Days and 1 Night, a travel-cum-challenge TV program, was very amiable in person and even accommodated several members of media for one-on-one interviews.
The All the Butlers headliner, when prodded, even prepared a special Korean lunchbox from scratch. He made a kimbap with eggs and grapes, which a lucky winning fan described as “delicious.”
The fan-celebrity interaction during the segment was nothing less than hilarious. Fans dissuaded him from using plastic gloves while handling the food. He reluctantly gave in but warned the fans that they must have a “strong stomach” to eat his lunchbox.
During the fan meeting, he intimated that while he appeared to be very fond of children in Little Forest, where he was seen taking care of kids, he said the toddlers could be too much for him to handle.
“I like working with children, but not too much,” said Mr. Lee, who always kept his composure even during the most trying episodes.
His latest project, Vagabond, has actress-singer Suzy Bae as co-star. Unlike the usual Korean dramas that are normally shot as they are shown, the 16-episode series available on Netflix was pre-produced and reportedly took a year to finish given the intense scenes and the execution of the complicated plot.
Seung Gi said he did most — if not all — of the action scenes himself to make the delivery more realistic
After the fan meeting, VIP ticket holders were treated to a photo opportunity with the actor-singer-host-model. However, due to the restrictions set by his entertainment company, Hook, hi-touch sessions were not approved.
It was the first time Lee Seung Gi had a show in the Philippines. With the rousing reception, his fans — including this writer — are hoping that he will return soon for a full concert. Acknowledged as an excellent singer, he has performed in sold-out arenas worldwide.
But for now, his Airens (his fandom’s name) will have to content themselves with the sweet memories of his fan meeting in Manila as they await for that soon-to-be-staged concert which they already expect will be just as awesome.