It was a day of many firsts for me — first time in Taiwan, first time travelling alone, first time heading overseas for a fan meeting, and more importantly, first time meeting Ji Chang Wook in the flesh!! His Taipei fan meeting was announced rather late, so this was a last-minute decision, and I thought to myself that this will probably be the craziest thing that I’ve ever done. Was it worth it? Oh, certainly so.
[Note: What I write is based on memory and what I jotted down after the show, so I may have forgotten certain details or mixed up the sequence of events. Warning, this write-up is loooooong~ Those who do not wish to read can just scroll down to the gallery below]
Event: Ji Chang Wook 2014 Fan Meeting in Taipei
Date: 30 August 2014 (Sat), 7.30pm
Venue: Taipei International Convention Centre
Right from the day I completed my trip bookings till my arrival at the Taoyuan Airport, and even 1 hour before the start of the fan meeting, I was constantly worried if I would even be able to enter the hall for the fan meeting because I made a mistake with my ticket booking. Even though I had called the Taiwan ticketing agent to make alternative arrangements for me to collect my ticket at the venue due to my mistake, that reassured me a lot, but there was still that lingering worry of “what if something went wrong?” I’m such a worrier (Cherkell and the Korean fans whom I travelled with can attest to that, I’m so sorry!).
Anyway, the Korean fans and I reached the venue at close to 7pm (show was slated to start at 7.30pm) and there was already a lot of people there, including unauthorised peddlers selling unofficial merchandise like plastic fans and posters bearing his face (there were no official FM merchandise on sale). The heavens were kind to me and I successfully collected my ticket from the Gmusic staff (“You finally came! I thought you couldn’t find us”). There was a long queue to take pictures with a cardboard standee of Ji Chang Wook and a staff was yelling at fans to leave that for later and move in to the venue now (“We need to collect your ticket stubs now for the lucky draw!!” / “Let us finish taking pictures!” / “Where’s the toilet??!”). My mind seemed to be in a blank. I actually made it here!! I had bought a bun earlier for dinner, but my heart was thumping so hard with excitement and swallowing anything seemed too difficult right now. “Dinner” will have to come later.
I went separate ways with my Korean friends (their seats were in a different section) and I was momentarily lost in the building because the ticket didn’t state which floor was the hall located, but the rule of thumb is to just follow the crowd. Arrived at my seat in the A1 section which was right at the corner next to the walkway. This would prove to be a problem later as I found myself to be an easy target for security guards out to catch people who were secretly using their cameras…
The emcee, Ken Wu (吳建恆. a famous Taiwan TV host of the show MTV ‘Idols of Asia’ that Ji Chang Wook appeared in) soon came out to try and energise the crowd to no avail (“Why are you all so quiet?!”). Maybe because many of us in the audience are no longer screaming teenage school girls that’s why we seem quiet. I’m excited but I don’t go screaming my lungs out… The age range of the audience did seem quite great though — there were little kids that seemed barely 7 years old, there were also older fans in their forties, and also fans from Japan who bought the VIP tickets. A lucky draw was conducted whereby 20 fans were selected to go up on stage for an activity later. Alas, I have no luck with this sort of thing…
At around 7.45pm, the lights dimmed and special effect smoke started to fill the stage. An introductory video was played where he said some words in Mandarin. Haha, good effort, not bad! I could understand him, but I wonder if it’s because of the Chinese subtitles (can’t recall if I was reading the subs or just purely listening to him). Ji Chang Wook finally appeared in a white shirt and a black floppy hat (like what he wore in the Ceci February issue and the BNT Hong Kong photoshoot…why does he keep wearing that hat??) singing “사랑했지만 (Even Though I Loved You)” from his musical ‘The Days’.
Oh, how I’ve always wanted to hear him sing this live!! I tried to do a video recording of him singing but was promptly asked by a staff to put away my camera 😦 That’s the problem with sitting right at the corner. My fancams suck big time and I’m too ashamed to even post them >_< After singing, he said a few words of greeting. The fan meeting was split into five segments with the main theme “I Am In Taiwan”.
Segment 1 – “I Am Handsome”
A VCR was played showing his stylist Mi Young putting on make up for him and styling his hair, and him exercising and sweating buckets at the gym. Forgive me, but he looked so good with those muscles and droplets of sweat, although he probably smelled very bad then. His stylist and fitness trainer both gave short interviews in the clip. He says the hard part about keeping fit is maintaining a diet of brown rice and chicken breast, and all meat must be barbecued till it is completely dry. He exercises because of his work, otherwise, he wouldn’t exercise (sounds like me, except that my sedentary job doesn’t even require me to exercise). The emcee said that stars seldom start their show by saying they are handsome (yeah, so narcissistic, but rightly so), and Ji Chang Wook said he’s embarrassed. He kept thanking the emcee for calling him handsome. Now, the good thing about me being able to understand both Mandarin and Korean, is that I don’t need to rely on the female translator on stage, but the bad thing is that I’m always reacting a few seconds earlier than the rest of the crowd around me (meaning I attract weird stares). The emcee praised him for having good skin and proceeded to use a magnifying glass to examine his face (lol, but I personally feel all that make up is doing some damage to his complexion). The emcee asked when did he realise that he was handsome, and he said, “Now?” He was dieting before he came to Taiwan, but ended up eating so much here that he put on 1-2kg. He wanted to exercise the previous night but couldn’t because he was too busy, so he will be exercising after the fan meeting.
The screen then revealed the best 5 handsome features of him. 5th place was his height (It seriously took me a long time to figure out that the Chinese word on the screen meant “Height” lol). A staff used a measuring tape to measure his height, but he kept trying to tip toe to make himself taller. Eventually, it appears that his height is around 190cm including his hat, to which Ji Chang Wook said he would try and wear hats more often now to look taller. Actually, to be more accurate, they should have made him take off his shoes to make sure he wasn’t wearing shoe lifts inside. The emcee asked when did he start to grow taller (which I thought was a rather silly question. Don’t you start growing the moment you are born?). Ji Chang Wook laughed with his unique laughter upon hearing the question (did he find the question silly too?), and he said probably around high school. He used to play basketball a lot.
4th place was a long string of Chinese words which I didn’t understand, but I got the gist from the emcee’s explanation — meaning he’s eyes, nose and mouth are easily differentiated on his face?? I don’t get it. Isn’t that the case for any normal person? He noticed the camera was zoomed in onto his face, and he said that his face is too huge on the big screen. He said he prefers the left side of his face (which I kind of suspected so, that’s why I bought a seat on the A1 section on the left so that he would seat facing my direction hehehehe. I made the right gamble!!). 3rd place was his shoulders, and the staff came back out with the measuring tape to measure one half of his shoulder. Is this the first time that staff is measuring someone’s shoulders? Who measures like that? The fans also called out to the staff to measure his whole shoulder from the back instead. His shoulder length is about 15 inches. Ji Chang Wook said he feels like he’s at a medical examination, and the emcee said fans will probably try and make a suit for him.
2nd place is his nose (I agree!!). Camera zoomed right to his nose, which made him amazed again seeing his nose on the big screen. Thankfully we don’t see any dirt in his nose. He looked so cute whenever the camera zoomed in to his face, and he gamely struck some cute poses too. Totally squee-worthy. 1st place is his eyes (I agree too!!). The emcee asked if he has eaten (“yes”) and asked him to act out a hungry look with his eyes because that would be truly acting since he is full now. He said he seldom looks at the mirror and seldom monitors himself when he is acting, because he will want to look good, which would restraint his acting. He kept pointing out his swollen left eye (and making a pitiful face), which I wouldn’t have noticed if he didn’t say so. The emcee questioned if he needed to be so honest about that.
Segment 2 – “I Am Sweet”
The VCR shows him shopping for groceries at a supermarket in Korea. He is buying ingredients to prepare something simple that he can bring out when meeting friends. He wanted to buy a certain type of sauce/oil but the camera man asked if that will be too thick. He is then thrown into a dilemma because he can’t decide what type to buy haha. He then grumbles why is the mayonnaise so expensive. I noticed there were ahjummas shopping in the supermarket while he was filming, but they didn’t seem to recognise him or couldn’t be bothered, poor thing.
He then appeared on stage dressed as a chef with the ingredients he bought laid out on a table. Ah~so apt. I made the right choice in naming this site a “kitchen” haha. He proceeded to demonstrate how to prepare rice balls, saying it’s very easy, just mix this and that (which reminds me of his cooking demonstration several years back where he also prepared something very simple). He added in tuna, kimchi, ham (which he likes) etc, and then decided to be generous and add in more ingredients. He asked if he should add everything in and proceeded to dump in huge amounts of chopped ham. Fans exclaimed in worry upon seeing that, which stopped him in his tracks, and he tried to convince everyone that it’s okay because ham is really delicious. LOL, that doesn’t mean you can add everything in? There needs to be a right balance right? He brought peaches also because he wanted to make peach rice balls (sounds weird but there IS such a thing in Korea apparently), but he didn’t add in the peaches as the staff were against it because it wouldn’t taste nice.
The 20 lucky draw winners selected earlier were then invited up on stage to sample his rice balls, but they first had to answer two questions, and only those who guessed right could get to eat his rice balls. First question was “What is the first thing he does when he wakes up? A) Check his phone, or B) Look at himself in the mirror” (Answer: A). Two participants answered wrongly and were asked to leave the stage, but Ji Chang Wook said it would be a pity if they just left like that since they already came up on stage, and proceeded to personally feed them his rice balls with his own hands. What a treat!! The next question was “In which order does he wash himself? A) Wash his hair, face, then body, or B) Face, hair then body” (Answer: B). He was busy trying to roll the rice balls for the remaining participants and had no presence of mind to talk haha. Yeah, this chef is still a newbie so he cannot multi-task. This time round, he merely placed the rice balls on paper plates and his manager gave out the rice balls and chop sticks to the participants. HAHA the two who were the first to be eliminated got the best deal!!! I wonder if he realised what he has done.
He then went back stage and took out his guitar, saying he would play his guitar to entertain while the participants ate their rice balls. LOL, dinnertime entertainment by the chef? He started strumming a few notes and the whole hall fell silent, trying to listen intently to identify what song he was playing.
He stared wide-eye at the crowd looking for some kind of response, and it soon dawned on everyone that he wasn’t playing anything at all but just randomly strumming some notes that had no tune at all. LOOOL so anti-climatic. He said that’s all for now (What?! You barely played 10 notes?!) and the emcee broke the silence, sarcastically saying that whatever the Emperor plays is always good and hence everyone should clap for him (-_-“). I should have expected that since he just mentioned in the Sure magazine interview about a month ago that he couldn’t play the guitar (face palm). What were the odds of him learning the guitar in one month? He said he will try and play at least a verse next time. We shall see. This guy is so strangely funny.
During a short break, another lucky draw was conducted. FM posters with his signature and three black caps with the words “I am the greatest” bearing his autograph were given away. What must I do to improve my luck in lucky draws???
Segment 3 – “I Am An Actor”
In the VCR, he talks about acting, saying that acting is like telling a lie—he has to be good at not only deceiving the director, but also the audience. Wow. You never fail to amaze me with your words. I like it when he’s all philosophical and brutally honest like that. He then appeared in a black top singing “미안해 (I Am Sorry)” from the musical ‘Caffeine’. I wonder why he keeps singing this song at FMs since he didn’t even star in that musical and it’s not the musical that he wants to act in the most either. I wanted to hear him sing “어쩌면 (Perhaps)” from ‘Jack the Ripper’ but he didn’t sing it this time. There’s also this strange echo whenever he sang that sounded like a backup vocal track playing along. Not sure if it’s a problem with the sound system, but I’m quite sure he was singing live anyway, and his live singing is great! Maybe not at the level of, say, Park Hyo Shin or BMK, but good enough for me and better than other actors. I didn’t manage to record a video of him singing, but only a sound recording 😦
He had to choose three “Empresses” from the audience for an activity that involves re-enacting scenes from ‘Empress Ki’, so he randomly called out seat numbers. Coincidentally, he picked out a lady who was dressed in a Chinese periodical costume, totally dressed for the part! He also chose a little girl, and the emcee exclaimed how could he choose such a young girl to join his harem. LOL. But I can tell that he likes kids. For the last person, he wanted someone who shares the same birthday as him. The first lady in the traditional dress had to act out a scene where she applies medication on his face. She even got to pinch his cheek! She then asked for a hug, to which the emcee said she already got a rare deal of pinching an actor’s cheek so how could she request for a hug, but Ji Chang Wook kindly complied and hugged her nonetheless. The emcee said that if you watch ‘Empress Ki’ now, you will see this lady’s face instead of Ha Ji Won’s face. I think his words are coming true because that is indeed happening to me.
The little girl had to act out the scene where she blows dust out from his eye. He knelt down for her to do so and the emcee wondered if the little girl even knows what she’s doing. The last girl got to act out the scene where he hugs her and thank her for being pregnant with his child. LOOL. He hugged her really tightly for quite long like how he did in the drama, and hugged her a total of three times! The emcee asked if she really feels like she’s pregnant now. Gosh, this is so mushy I’m dying~~
Segment 4 – “I Am A Fashionista”
The VCR showed him at a shoe store in Korea selecting sports shoes and caps. He said he picks shoes based on design, colour and most importantly, comfort. He then runs up and down the stairs in the shop to try out his shoes. When asked which pair he would pick as a couple shoe, he chose a pair that is blue and green in colour. He doesn’t have a particular favourite colour, and is fine with colours like black, white, blue and green. He starts to bounce a basketball in the shop and he really can manoeuvre the ball very well, showing that he is good in basketball indeed. I worry if he will damage the parquet flooring of the store if he keeps bouncing it like that though. He likes caps because he likes to wear comfortably, and caps are useful when he is busy with schedules (I suppose to cover up his messy hair and face on busy days). He chose a cap with an army design, saying he should probably wear this when he enters the army (ah, don’t remind me about it). The video also showed him choosing the “I am the greatest” cap that was given away earlier. He chose that because it is in line with the “I Am” theme for the fan meeting, and he said it would be cool if he organises a fan meeting next time and everyone turns up with a cap that reads “I Am”, probably with his face printed on it, he said jokingly. Sorry, but I think I would prefer a cap that does not have your face on it kekeke.
He then showed up on stage in a black suit with some cool disco music and lights. A changing room was placed at the side of the stage with a rack of clothes. He said he seldom wears suits. He picked out a white T-shirt with a long green overcoat, saying this is something he would wear at the airport. He then went into the changing room to change into that outfit. The changing room was really cool with lighting to show the silhouette of him changing, which made the pervy audience excited. This is getting more racy than I had expected, LOL. I noticed from my pictures that the changing room even had this cute little sign that says no entry for women. Love that cute detail! I guess it pays to have a famous stage designer to come up with all these cool stuff. He then emerged from the changing room and walked around the stage posing for photos in his new outfit. The sunglasses and the way he walked is so gangsta. Someone give him a mafia role please.
The next outfit from the rack is a cute animal costume. It looks like a deer? He said that is his pyjamas. Omg. I find it hard believe, but if you say so…He looked soooo cute in it and he even tried to act cute by prancing around at one point. The last piece of costume was a really sexy and revealing wire-mesh see-through top with a red scarf. Is he seriously going to wear that?!! He threw it on the floor saying it isn’t his. I really hope it isn’t yours! I couldn’t believe it when he gamely took that sexy top and headed to the changing room to change. I got my camera ready because that would be sensational…
GAH! Prank! I should have expected that. My jaw would have dropped to the floor if he really wore that. I think my impression of him would have changed also, so thankfully he didn’t wear it (although I think a part of me secretly wanted him to wear it). I don’t know why I can’t accept him wearing such a thing since he was okay with exposing so much of himself in the mini drama ‘Secret Love’, so this shouldn’t be too different from that…shrugs. This would be the second time he has pulled a prank on the audience in one night after that guitar stint. Naughty boy!! I’m not sure if I felt cheated or not…
Segment 5 – “I Am In Taiwan” (Finale)
A VCR showed him at a book store looking for books about Taiwan to prepare for his trip here. He said he studied Mandarin in school last time and was even ranked first in class. Ah, if that was the case, I’m sure he should be able to pick up Mandarin again if he put more effort into it. He wondered if he should study the Taiwanese dialect also, but decided that Mandarin was enough after doing some research.
The spot light suddenly shone at a spot towards the back among the audience. Omo, he’s going to appear from behind! Music started playing and I thought he was going to sing, but he emerged with a basket instead to give out sweets to the audience at the back before slowly making his way to the stage at the front. It became a little chaotic as some fans started to rush towards where he was. I hesitated for a while and decided to follow too (don’t judge me). I managed to get reeallllly close to him when he arrived at the stage. I was right at the stage below and he was at the edge of the stage, just an arm’s length away. His make-up looked really thick up close but he’s so beautiful~~ The fans behind me rushed forth to try and get sweets from him and I nearly became a pancake (Chill girls!! Grown women fighting for sweets tsk tsk tsk). He didn’t give me any because I really have zero luck. Can you give me a good luck charm instead?
After chatting for a bit, he then proceeded to sing “나비에게 (To the Butterfly)”. Since he’s here because of the popularity of ‘Empress Ki’, so it is of no surprise that he chose to sing this song. I finally managed to record a proper video of him singing because the staff were less strict about cameras after the fashion show segment (cameras were allowed for that segment). I totally enjoyed singing along with him since I knew the lyrics by hard. I knew we were suppose to sing along to this song as per instructions by the Taiwan fan club, so I was puzzled as to why I seemed to be the only one singing. Maybe the fans seated around me weren’t familiar with the lyrics. The video I recorded is very shaky because I was filming at maximum zoom and had no where to place my arm for support without getting blocked by people. But better than nothing…My only decent fancam for the night >_<
After the song, he said he had prepared a gift for everyone and wanted us to watch a VCR, but a video prepared by his Taiwan fan club was aired instead. The video had a lot of pictures with “To the Butterfly” playing in the background, and also a message written in Korean for him. Sadly, I was busy taking pictures of him and looking at his face so I didn’t pay attention to the video. But what matters is that he paid full attention to the video. He thanked fans for preparing this, and said this time it’s really going to be a VCR prepared by him. So up came a VCR of him talking about preparing a gift for fans. He said there were many options they considered, including a mug. He wanted to give something practical and useful, and decided that a paper fan would be useful since the weather in Taiwan is hot. Great! It’s useful for me too since it’s really hot in Singapore too~~!!! The paper fan came with his hand print and signature printed on it. The boxes also had a sticker of him, which he painstakingly pasted on each and every box. The video showed him pasting during his break time in between shoots, and he said 2000 thousand boxes can be completed in no time. Such a simple task like that does not require any special skill either. I was really touched that he put in so much thought into this. I’ve been to other concerts and fan meetings before and I’ve never received any gift from the star. Really appreciate this small gesture from him. While the video was playing, he would turn to look at the audience occasionally to check out reactions, sometimes smiling also. Awwww~
After close to two hours of fun, it was finally the end of the show. He said his closing speech and then took out a selfie stick to take a selca with fans. Unfortunately, his camera could only capture those fans seated in the middle section. I was hoping he would move to the two sides of the stage to snap a picture too but he didn’t. Many of the fans rushed to the middle and the front to fit into his shot. He then snapped a couple of pictures of himself using the stick, said his final goodbye, and the show ended. I didn’t feel sad or anything, just surreal that I’m even here in the first place (and famished by now since I didn’t have dinner).
There was still one last chance to see him, and that would be the high-five session at the end of the show. It was already 10pm by then and someone announced that those who didn’t want to wait for the high-five session may leave first. What?! No way am I leaving yet! My A1 section was the first to get called to line up for the high-five session. After waiting for a while for him to get ready, the line then started to move very swiftly. The queue led out towards the exit, where he stood behind a table shielded by a board, such that you could only see him if you went behind it (probably to prevent people from standing around and taking photos). The queue was moving very fast, basically touch-and-go, and he held his right hand up throughout in a position for you to high-five him. LOL that was a rather weird stance I must say, but understandable since he had to high-five with close to 2000 people.
I had prepared a gift for him which I bought from Singapore — our traditional barbecue sliced pork from a famous local brand, together with a letter in Korean for him which I wrote on Singapore postcards. Ah, I should have taken a photo of the gift I prepared. When it came to my turn, I handed him my gift, saying in Korean that this is a gift for him and I’m a fan from Singapore. He took the bag from me with both hands before sticking out his right hand again for me to high-five him, which I did. It was a light and brief clap, and his hand felt very soft like a cushion hahahaha. I could have been wrong though, since it lasted a mere few seconds. He didn’t say anything to me, partly because there was no time, and I do wonder if he even heard or understood what I said. But he did look at me and gave a slight nod of acknowledgement and a smile that was already permanently imprinted on his face to meet the other thousand fans behind me. Odds of him remembering me or recognising me the next time we meet? ZERO. Hahaha. Seeing him up close, I thought his make up was really thick. LOL I’m sorry that I can’t think of anything else to describe his face other than that. Well, he looked exactly like how I’ve always seen him in his selcas on Instagram. Definitely handsome.
And with that…it was all over. It was already close to 10.30pm.
Rather than feeling sad that it was over, I was feeling more satisfied about my first meeting with him. The fan meeting had lasted longer than I had expected (about 2.5 hours if you include the high-five session), and I got to take so many pictures of him, which wouldn’t have been possible if the event had been held in Korea or Japan instead. Also got to hear him sing live (though I wish he had sang more songs), hear his trademark HAHAHA laughter with my own ears, see him up close with my own eyes, and touch him with my own hand, albeit a very brief moment. I hope he did eat the pork I gave him and read my letter before dumping it into the bin hahaha. He was also exactly as how I’ve always imagined him to be so far — a courteous, thoughtful man with a cheeky side and also able to think smart, but a bit silly sometimes. Courteous, because he was humble about himself and towards the emcee. Thoughtful, because he bothered to reach out to audiences at the back of the hall, prepare a gift for everyone and also treated the fans who came on stage very well. Cheeky, because he pulled a prank on us. Smart, because he thought of giving such a practical gift and he also gives thought to what he says. Silly, not in a bad way, but in a cute way because he looked so blur playing the guitar and during the cooking demonstration. I’ll definitely be looking forward to meeting him again, be it a fan meeting or a musical!
And congratulations for reaching the end of my long rambling fan account!
Photos and videos by Gabby. Do not edit photos or remove logos. Do not reupload.
사진을 2차 수정 금지. 퍼가 시면 출처를 표시해주세요.