Kim Jong Kook had his first fan-meeting in Singapore on 22 February and this is his first stop for his Asia tour. I brought the category one tickets at the stall and watched the showcase with my best friend with a top-up of $68 for photo taking session. The ticketing system by Mode Entertainment was bad and we were allocated with seats randomly.
I come to know about Kim Jong Kook as a Korean celebrity since he debuted in 1995. He was a member of Turbo - an idol dance group. Since 1995, he has ventured into variety shows and started to gain popularity through shows like X-man, Family Outing and Running Man.
Soon, he became a household name in Korea in the late 90s and early 20s. His signature songs include - One Man, Today more than yesterday and Letter. Those who have followed his progress, should know that he is successful as part of idol group (Turbo) and his popularity continued into his venture as a solo artiste after working hard in the entertainment industry for so long.
I personally like Kim Jong Kook as a celebrity on TV and his ballads were nice. However, I wasn't a fan of his then athough his songs accompanied me through elementary school.
During that period of time, I was into M(andarin) pop more than K-pop. After Family Outing, I did not follow up on any Korean variety show neither was I following Kim Jong Kook activities in showbiz. My friend introduced me to Running Man last year and I was amazed at the impact of K-Pop culture in Asia. Boy bands and idol dramas became popular. Intrigued, I decided to watch Running Man one day and since then have been hooked to the show. I like the concept of the variety show and the character of each MC.
Initially, I was impressed with Kim Jong Kook, his image as 'the commander' was very intimidating to me at that time. However, his charm became more evident after watching him in Running Man for after some time. The fact that he maintained his appearance so well after all these years and even looks more handsome than ever is simply amazing. I can describe him as a fine wine that really tastes better after some time.
Therefore, I was excited when I come to know that he was coming to Singapore for a fan-meeting. So on 22 February, I met my best friend, iceprinxess, and together we went to Kallang Theatre at 7.30pm dressed in Sparta Kook global fan T-shirts!
There were 2 queues in the area and I waited in line to buy the calendar and autographed album after finding out why these people are queuing for. But after all that queuing, I was told at the counter that the autographed album was out of stock and Mode Entertainment staff did not know if there will be any more stock after this. Although I was disappointed, I still brought the calendar. This is the first fan-meeting I have ever attended, so I was not aware about the pre-order merchandise before the fan-meet.
|With tickets in hand, we queued up for the calendar and autographed album|
|Look at all those people!|
|The disappointing news after all that waiting - no more albums!|
Anyway, disappointment aside, it was time to queue (again) up for the fan-meeting. We were confused as to where the line was supposed to start due to the lack of proper procedure. People soon started to crowd everywhere.
|More people as we made our way up to the theater|
DramaQueen P.O.V: Kim Jong Kook looked dashing and neat in the outfit as he belted out his famous hit - Today more than yesterday. It was at this junture that I noticed the two big screens at the side. I suppose that is for the audience seated further away from the stage to have a better view, but the quality of the screen was simply too blurry. It made me wonder what happened to the projector.
Fans from different countries (Thailand, Malaysia etc...) came together that night to see our Sparta Kook. The MC of the day was a DJ from UFM. His English was not as good as his mandarin and it was a little weird when he spoke. On the other hand Kim Jong Kook can speak English pretty well for a Korean (he was even clearer than the MC), thanks to his often visits to L.A and his willingness to learn. Kim Jong Kook was really cute when he tried to use English in his greetings. His deep toned English was pleasant and he has never spoken so much English before in public.
Before the show started, the MC announced 5 winners who had the opportunity to take a solo photo with Kim Jong Kook. We held our breath while waiting for the announcement. Unfortunately, we were not chosen. The MC taught Kim Jong Kook some Hokkien and Singlish (mostly Hokkien) and he immediately used them. He ripped the DJ's nametag and said 'paiseh' (sorry) and called him 'yandao' (handsome) and to all the female fans, 'chiobu' (pretty). The MC even taught him how to use ‘Sotong’ (blur) on Kwang Soo and witty Kim Jong Kook replied that this sounds like ‘cow dung’ in Korea which brought about lots of laughter.
The showcase followed up with games such as 'flamingo' and twelve lucky fans were chosen. Surprisingly, a female fan was too overwhelmed with emotion and started to cry on stage. Jong kook immediately consoled her and asks, "Are you sad?" It was announced that only two groups among the six groups will have the opportunity to take pictures with him.
Upon hearing that, all the participants tried their best to win Kim Jong Kook in the games. Some of them were so fiercely competitive in winning the game that they pushed Kim Jong Kook out of the box within a few seconds.
The second game was the tug-of-war and Kim Jong Kook had to win against two people. Feeling tired, Kim Jong Kook exclaimed, “Why am I doing this?" The MC replied that this will help him to be popular for the next fifty years. To which the fans screamed and cheered in response. The MC added that everyone here worshipped him like 'god' and I like Kim Jong Kook response later as he replied that he is a HUMAN after all even though he is strong. I think to a certain extent, Kim Jong Kook did hold back his strength a little when he competes with the fans. It was time to choose two pair of winners and Jong Kook request to take pictures with everyone to the delight of the participants.
The next game is to choose Kim Jong Kook's dream girl and people were standing as the criteria was read out by the MC. Some enthusiastic fans were jumping around frantically screaming and some even blocked my view. In the end about 10 women were chosen. Some were with sporty outfits, while others with intriguing hairstyles and the rest in skirt or shorts.
They were to impress Kim Jong Kook and tell him why he needs to choose them. Two of them use his songs to impress him while the rest tell him how much they love him. One of them was only interested to ask him to say hi to her friends at the circle seats. It was interesting to see how they reacted on stage, especially a lady that mentioned she is engaged during the game and to me that is brainless and it became pointless that she even participate in this game. In the end, Jong kook chooses a sporty girl as his dream girl and gave her a present.
The last game was to find 3 fans who could sing his songs. Amongst the 3 fans who were selected, one of them was an adorable six year old boy. It was evident that Kim Jong Kook adored him and even took a picture with him onstage. The 3 fans (a guy, girl and the little boy) were asked to sing his signature songs - All men are like that, One man and Loveable. I was surprised that the guy can sing decently well despite him saying that he can’t sing well. The girl that participated did not sing as well as others. Therefore, the winner was none other than the little boy! Everyone cheered as the boy looked blankly onstage while presented with his reward. Kim Jong Kook asked the boy to smile to him and the boy gave a little beam to the delight of everyone.
After that, Kim Jong Kook went to the backstage to change his costume for his performance. His MV - Today more than yesterday was shown onscreen. A few minutes later Jong Kook appeared on stage and sang a string of his signature songs which includes: His latest song - Men are all like that and he was quick to clarify that he is not and this is just a song. After promoting his latest album and titled song, he sang his past hits: Don't be good to me, Letter, Saying I love you (A song he seldom sings in Korea due to his rumor with his X-Man love line - Yoon Eun Hye).
However, fans still cheered aloud when they saw the background screen of Kim Jong Kook MV starring Yoon Eun Hye. His smooth and gentle vocal is well polished and he is able to control his voice very well. He stated before during interviews that he was worried that people only recognize him as a variety entertainer and not as a singer. Judging from the responses, he still did well since he is a veteran singer for 18 years. The only letdown was the sound system which had a loud echo, therefore his voice was unclear at times.
The only mistake that he made was that he had forgotten a line of the lyric when he sang Letter. Being a professional artiste, he carried on singing with all his heart. Then he sang his last song - Lovable. Everyone in the audience seats stood up and danced with him. That was the highlight of the day! We got to see the cute dance and the sexy move with his dancers. Too bad, time passed by too fast and everyone shouted encore when it was announced that this is the last song of the day.
The beautiful ending, I have some comments (or rather alot) on the staff of Mode Entertainment that day. The security check that night was tight. iceprinxess and I witnessed cameras getting confiscated when they were discovered to have secretly taken photographs. The usher was fierce when she approached the fans. If it were handphones it might have been passable, but when they are DSLRs (which are not tiny), I think security at the front desk was not doing a proper job.
In addition, although the MC announced the queue for those taking photographs with Kim Jong Kook, instructions were not clear and we ended up queuing up on the wrong side. The MC announced that we will be given a green wristband and on which we were supposed to write our email address. After writing down our email address, we were asked to wait on stage before we were ushered to the waiting area in groups (of supposedly 10). Mode Entertainment staff were not only rude and loud as they hurried us to the waiting area, they were snappy and scrowling all the way. I felt that their attitude were bad because we paid for the showcase and photograph session, and since the showcase was over the photograph session was the only thing standing between them and their bed. Whatever the situation is, no matter how hurried they want to pack up and go home, we are still the customer who paid for the ticket. We should be treated with the most decent of respect and not get glares and be snapped at.
In addition, Mode Entertainment did announce that they would email the photos taken that day. However, they not only did not send out the photos, but made it available on their facebook page expecting everyone to check out their page to find out about the photos:
Anyways, while waiting on stage to be ushered to the photo session area, instructions were so bad that we did not know what to do. The staff just assumed that everyone was as updated as they were. I think Mode Entertainment expected everyone to remember the instructions on the website word for word. However, they did not specify the arrangement on that day resulting in whoever who was fast enough will grab the two chairs beside Kim Jong Kook.
Unfortunately, our reactions were slow resulting in us not being able to grab the seats. The most frustrating thing was that as I turned around to look for iceprinxess, who was looking more lost than I was, another person came and snatched my seat. Lesson learnt - Be fast and grab hold of the opportunity no matter what!
Kim Jong Kook came to us and warmly welcomed us with a smile and a warm handshake. I was star-stuck, but iceprinxess felt that he looked the same off stage. Perhaps, I am too used to seeing him on television that it became unbelievable that he was standing in front of me in person. However, we both agreed that his complexion is very good. He said, “Come, let's take a picture." Everyone got into position and the camera man asked the people behind to come and squat down. I looked for iceprinxess and was surprised that all of them stood behind him so I was left squatting in front. I stretched out my hand with a 'peace' sign and the camera clicked twice in a flash.
Before we knew it, we were ushered off again (chased off rather). Honestly, we did not have much time to react because we were all hurried by snappy staff. This was the most tiring day for me and it was getting late (almost midnight).
Horrible staff aside and feeling short-changed, I am looking forward to the next time Kim Jong Kook comes to Singapore again. This time, hopefully with the entire Running Man team (and under a different event management company other than Mode Entertainment). :)