By Cecille Santillan-Visto
So Ji Sub Asia Tour “Hello” Manila
March 16, 7 p.m.,
New Frontier Theater
In the hierarchy of Korean stardom, there are legitimate superstars, true celebrities, award-winning actors, and chart-topping singers. Only a few who can rightfully claim to belong to each class and 41-year-old So Ji Sub is one of them. So when he visited Manila for his first fan meeting two weeks ago, the Titas of Manila expectedly came in droves, beating their millennial K-pop counterparts to the box-office. Mr. So of Oh My Venus and My Secret Terrius fame is recognized, and rightfully so, as the total package, who has more to offer than those freshly minted, lip syncing teenage idols.
The Master’s Sun lead is also an accomplished essayist and author, releasing at least two books. His knight-in-shining-armor persona made him relatable to the Pinoy audience and the roles he played in his recent dramas put Hugh Grant’s Notting Hill character, William Thacker, to shame.
This writer has watched most of Mr. So’s work and was admittedly starstruck for most of the event. But his humble demeanor made him all the more endearing, particularly when he told a die-hard fan who refused to entertain suitors, to keep him in her heart but look elsewhere for the man who will make her happy.
“We all have our ideal type but I think it’s difficult (to find). But the person you will meet will eventually become your ideal type… So don’t think with your head but choose with your heart (that someone) who will care for you truly and love you sincerely,” he said.
Mr. So, who is called “coach-nim” for his character in the series Venus where he played a wealthy fitness buff, made the ladies at the New Frontier Theater swoon when he sang Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You” during the opening. Wearing an all-white ensemble, he later gifted a lucky fan who flew in from the United States with a special necklace and a signed Polaroid photo.
“Hello” Manila was the seventh and last stop of his six-country Asian tour, which included Hong Kong, Japan, and Indonesia. It was one of the best K-pop fan meetings in recent months, owing to its variety and audience interaction.
The first half was largely fan service, with Mr. So sharing some personal information and eagerly playing a “what’s-in-the-box” game. He told the crowd about his first visit to the Philippines in his 20s when he came to shoot a music video. He said he wants to return to enjoy the beach and get himself a tan.
“I am happiest with my fans. As I am ending the tour, I know that all these memories will come back rushing when I return to Korea,” said Mr. So, who also performed the melancholic “Picnic,” a cut from his album, 6pm Ground, and originally a collaboration between him and Korean singer, Younha.
He obliged his followers by agreeing to wear a pair of angel’s wings, a flower crown, and recording a morning call where he said: “Hello, gumising ka na. Mahal na kita.” (Wake up already. I love you already.)
What made the fan meeting, produced by Pulp Live World, special was the second half, which was a mini concert where the three-man hip-hop group, Soul Dive, gave Mr. So able support. Ditching his white suit for a black and silver get-up complete with bling and backward cap, the actor-singer threw a curve ball when he sang iKON’s smash hit, “Love Scenario.” It was a treat especially for Filipino fans as performing K-pop covers is unusual.
The Battleship Island star, who used the pseudonym “G” early in his hip-hop career, rocked the New Frontier theater with his rendition of “So Ganzi,” “AOAOAO,” and “So Love.” Together with Ji Sub, Zito, Nuck, and D. Theo, he fired up the crowd with “Boy Go,” “Eraser,” and “Cola Bottle Baby.”
At the end of the meeting, Mr. So had separate photo and hi-touch sessions with VIP ticket holders.
With more Korean acts performing in the Philippines, as expectations grow with each event. So Ji Sub, superstar-celebrity-actor-singer rolled in one, certainly delivered. There are no signs of let-up despite his age and given the right projects and nary a scandal, this star will undoubtedly continue to shine.
By Cecille Santillan-Visto