The Korean presence in our islands is hard to ignore. In a recent stay at the Hilton in Cebu, the ratio of Pinoy guests to Koreans is 9 is to 1 in the Koreans’ favor, of course. On the local TV scene, the mania surrounding Korean series dubbed in Filipino is still alive and kicking. To top it off, K-pop (an abbreviation of Korean pop or Korean popular music) has ceased to refer only to a musical genre consisting of electronic, hip hop, pop, rock, and R&B music originating in South Korea. These days, K-pop also means a popular subculture among teenagers and young adults all throughout Asia, resulting in widespread interest in the fashion sense and style of Korean groups and singers. Take a good look around and you may cringe at the sight of brown-skinned teens and pre-teens sporting ‘dos (full bangs and side bangs galore) that simply do not become them.
Two of these homegrown Korean idols, Kyu Jong and Young Saeng of the group SS501 (read as double S 501), recently visited Manila, the last stop of their five-country Asian tour. The tour, to put it more accurately, is actually a meet-and-greet-cum-showcase event. Of the two, it is Kyu Jong who fits into the heartthrob mold more. With his shy, quiet demeanor, Young Saeng is decidedly the one with the real musical vibe. After their Feb. 5, 2011 Manila stint, Kyu Jong and Young Saeng are set to begin the post-SS501 phase of their careers. Young Saeng will be releasing an album on the first half of 2011 while Kyu Jong will continue to pursue acting.
Kyu Jong and Young Saeng were only too happy that the Philippines was the last country in their itinerary. They’ve been in the Philippines many times in the past and remember Cebu particularly. "Filipinos smile a lot," both observe.
Kyu Jong is also fond of the tropical weather. Being in the Philippines is pretty much like being home. "Korean fans are just as passionate as Filipinos," says Young Saeng.
If there is one thing that local artists can learn from the Korean poster boys, then it will have to be focus. Both will be alone on Feb. 14. By that time, they will have flown back home. "I don’t have a girlfriend," claims Young Saeng. But if he had one, he would give his ladylove chocolates come Valentine’s Day.
According to the two, love – like music, film and other forms of art – is transcendental. "It doesn’t matter what nationality you have," ends Kyu Jong. "When it comes to falling in love, we should all be given an opportunity to experience it."
(The meet-and-greet/showcase was held at the PICC’s The Forum 2 and made possible by producers Greenlights Events and Productions Philippines Inc. and B2M Entertainment and Mays Entertainment together with sponsors and media partners like San Miguel Alcoholic Malt Beverage, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, Audi, Del Monte Fit & Right and PKCI, ABS-CBN, MYX, Summit Media, Mellow 94.7, Tambayan 101.9, 103.5 WOW FM, Seoul FM, DKPOP News, Odyssey Music, Odyssey Live.net, and Manila Concerts Scene.)