A few years ago, three friends came here hoping to see a glimpse of their favorite Korean actor, Gong Yoo. They were here for a total of two weeks. Unfortunately, Gong Yoo was in Indonesia during that time. They didn’t see him even when they visited his agent at their office in Gangnam. They only saw one Korean actor when they dropped by the KBS studios in Yeouido.
In my nine years here, I’ve only seen a couple of celebrities and most of them by chance. I don’t spend money attending concerts nor do I go around town chasing Korean stars.
The first Hallyu star I saw in person is Lee Hyori. It happened on July 18, 2004 at the COEX in Gangnam. She was having a book signing event and we were there. I didn’t buy her photobook but I got a free poster from one of the staff ;p
On September 12, 2005, my friend Anna and I met in Myeongdong. In front of Paris Baguette (the building is now called “Nook Square”), we saw Kim Sun Ah, the star of drama “My Name is Kim Sam Soon” which was a huge hit that time.
While driving home on February 6, 2006, my husband and I saw Ahn Sung Gi, protesting in front of the Kyobo Building in Gwanghwamun. It was raining and there were only a few people. Our car stopped right in front but I couldn’t take a picture. The next day, I went to Kyobo Bookstore with my friend Anna (again!) and we saw Choi Min Sik, the A-list Korean actor of “The Old Boy”. He was the second actor doing the one-man protest on the “Screen Quota”. The next day, Jang Dong Gun was scheduled to do the protest but due to the number of fans who went to Kyobo, they changed the venue to Korea’s National Assembly in Yeouido. I didn’t go there as I had anticipated the huge crowd and I was six months pregnant!
I consider January 3, 2008 as a very lucky day! We went to Seoul Plaza to buy tickets for the ice rink. We had to wait 3 hours before we could get in. We decided to walk to Kyobo Bookstore in Gwanghwamun to scan some books. We saw a commotion outside and there was Kim Myung Min signing copies of the Beethoven Virus OST! KMM happens to be my second favorite Korean actor, after Jang Dong Gun!
Sometime in January, 2009, Tom Cruise visited Korea to promote his movie Valkyrie. He had a stop at the CGV in Yongsan and I was there and I was standing on the second row behind the railings that separated the makeshift stage. I saw him really closely but unfortunately all the pictures I took only showed “flashes” from other cameras. No usable picture at all! Anyway, I’ve always liked Tom Cruise since “The Outsider” (where he had a chip tooth) and I was glad I saw his gorgeousness!
On April 2, 2009, I attended a CD signing event. Four members of the Super Junior were there. I had my CD signed by Heechul so I got to see him and the other three up close. The staff was so strict and so I didn’t get to take any photo of the Kpop idols.
Another actor I chanced to see is Lee Seon Gyun of the famed Korean drama “Pasta”. I took the wrong bus from Seoul Station on September 5, 2009. I just decided to get off at Gwanghwamun in front of Sejong Theater and there he was on the stage, being interviewed by the emcee.
On November 6, 2009, friend Jasmine Lee (now a Representative of the National Assembly of Korea) invited me and a few friends to watch “The Road for Hope Concert” at the KBS Studio. Not only were we treated to an entertaining show with SG Wannabe, Girls Generation, Park Hwayobi, Supreme Team among others in attendance, we were also ushered in to join the reception for the VIP guests. There we saw Korean stars up close: Park Shin Yang (Lovers in Paris), Lee Seung Jae, Han Go Eun, In Soon I and Im Tae Gyung! Britain’s Got Talent’s Connie Talbot was also there. She was adorable! The American group All-4-1 were very much game when we asked to have pictures with them. Internationally-renowned pianist Kevin Kern was also at the reception with his wife, Pamela Gibbs.
Oh, I attended Lee Min Ho’s fans day at Kyunghee University two years ago. I know some fans call him “Lee Min Hot” and he deserves so ;p
Last year, Jasmine Lee sneaked me and a few friends to the lounge of Lotte Cinema where the stars of “Wandeugi” was resting. We had our picture taken with Yoo Ah In and Kim Yoon Suk.
I’ve also seen Kpop stars in shows like the latest was on May 12 at the Yeosu Expo. Wonder Girls, Simon D and the Dynamic Duo were there. I was also at an Asian Music Festival years ago. Of course, I also saw other Kpop singers on some of the Hi Seoul Festivals. I just don’t remember a lot of them anymore! Close encounters are more memorable.
Before I forget, a first cousin of my husband is also a Korean celebrity. I met him before he was even on TV and the last time I saw him was at a first birthday party of a cousin’s son. He was the emcee that night. He is busy nowadays not only with his weekly show but with his endorsements as well. He is one of the most popular comedians on the Sunday night KBS2 show “GAG Concert”. Can you guess who he is?