As we first reported in November 2014, an arrangement was made between Glorious Entertainment (Ji Chang Wook’s agency) and Insight Entertainment (the management company overseeing ‘The Days”) to present a performance especially for fans of Ji Chang Wook entitled “A Night With Free-Spirited Muyeong.” The seats were chosen by lottery by Ji Chang Wook himself, and I was thrilled to be on the receiving end of one for this special performance. Here’s a recap of the events!
It has been really cold in Seoul, and 26 December was no exception with a daytime temperature of -3ºC when I landed at Incheon. After a check-in with the fans on the ground and a quick dinner, it was back to the hotel to prepare for the next day’s fun and games. You could tell the marketing wheels were still in full swing, with several street corners leading up to the venue displaying posters promoting the show!
“The Days” is staged at the same venue as last year’s performances – the Grand Theatre at the Daehaegno Musical Centre (Daehaegno is known as the Theatre District of Seoul, and the same area where Ji Chang Wook performed some of his first musicals). I met up with the DayRock Daum Fan Cafe members before the performance at the Coffeesmith restaurant on the first floor of the complex. New and old members alike caught up for a few minutes and exchanged presents, and then suddenly the announcement came over the loudspeaker for the audience to take their seats.
This was my third viewing of “The Days,” but my first of the 2014 reboot. In past performances, the Jeonghak character (this evening played by Kang Tae Eul) was portrayed as more of a straight-laced, by-the-book, no-fun-at-all Blue House Guard. In this performance, Jeonghak was shown as a more naive, nervous and fidgety young man. Muyeong’s already ‘free-spirited’ character seemed to mesh better with the Jeonghak character this time around, as both men brought a freshness to their interactions and, most importantly, their on-stage bromance. (Out of the three Jeonghaks I’ve seen perform, these two boys are my favorite pairing!)
A few vignettes were updated: the gymnastics performance with the rest of the Blue House corps that starts off the first act, and the choreographed kendo match between Jeonghak and Muyeong was lengthened a bit (but Muyeong still wins. Yay!). Also added at the beginning of the second act was an interpretive dance scene to illustrate how Jeonghak imagined what might have happened to “She” and Muyeong to make them disappear into thin air. (I personally could not figure out the reason for this addition since the actors were on the stage at the same time as the dancers, but art for art’s sake, no?)
But at the beginning of the scene where it was Our Boys’ first night guarding the entrance to the Blue House, somehow Kang Tae Eul had caught his shirt in the zipper of his pants and had to run into the wings to change. It seemed like an eternity with him being away from the stage, but Changwook filled the time nicely with some choice ad-libs during Taeeul’s absence, treating the long silences as if Jeonghak was in the toilet! Several ad-libs had Muyeong yelling for him to hurry up, asking if he was constipated, and then after receiving no answer, finally sitting down on the stage steps complaining that he was lonely out there all by himself. LOL!!! And in another instance, Muyeong actually ‘broke the fourth wall’ and uttered a comment (which I could not clearly hear) straight to the audience! (For those of you not familiar with the term, the “fourth wall” is the imaginary “wall” at the front of the stage in a traditional theatre three-walled set, and the performance never ever strays past that “fourth wall.”). I do not ever remember seeing that happen in a Korean musical before, and for our Changwook to throw out an ad-lib on the spot shows how much he has grown as a musical actor over these years.
Another ad-lib that had us in stitches was when Muyeong ran up the stairs to rescue the “She” character from falling out a window (as scripted), and almost dropped her while carrying her to the stage couch. Jeonghak asked if he was okay, and Muyeong answered while gasping for breath that “She’s HEAVY!” Bwahahahahaha!!!
Unfortunately, during “My Song” (aka the “La La La La La” song), he decided not to do that little booty-shake that we were privileged to watch during the press call back in October. OUR LOSS. *hmpf*
Photo from “The Days” Press Call – 6 October 2014
As in prior performances, the curtain call had us all on our feet, clapping and cheering for the whole ensemble. I was thrilled to see several of the same cast members at past performances return for this reboot, and everyone was in fine form and putting forth their best efforts for all the Ji Chang Wook fans in attendance.
‘Muyeong’ came out after the curtain call to loud chants of JI CHANG WOOK! and addressed the audience before returning to the dressing room. He thanked us all for coming and supporting him and his fellow musical cast members on such a special night. He said his speech would be brief since his fellow cast members had two performances the next day (Sunday) as well. He was very happy that many have been showing lots of love for “Healer,” and thanked everyone for their support. At the end of his speech, he mentioned that he will probably enlist at the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016, and that he will work very hard until that time comes. That leads me to believe that he has a few other projects already lined up after “Healer” wraps its production. Let’s hope so, because we’re not ready to let him go just yet. *sigh*
(I apologize for the lack of photos taken during the evening, but we were under express instructions that no photographs nor recordings were to be taken during any portion of the performance whatsoever. Some of the audience members must not have understood those instructions, because the ushers ended up confiscating several cell phones during the curtain call.)
After Changwook left the stage and the house lights came up, I helped out with the DayRock members by passing out fresh (and still warm) duk (rice cakes) to the audience as they left the auditorium. The message reads:
“With Free-Spirited Muyeong!”
We thank everyone in the audience for being with Actor Ji Chang Wook
Happy New Year 2015
Please continue to give lots of support to Actor Ji Chang Wook!
Ji Chang Wook’s Official Fan Cafe DayRock
Mmm mmm GOOD!
And here’s where it gets crazy. Because of some incidents with people behaving badly at past post-performance meet-and-greets, Glorious Entertainment has to greatly limit the time he spends with fans after a show. This time was no exception, with a special exit set up for his departure so as to not disturb the other musical performers upon their exits from the venue. The fans were gathered so tightly packed against the entrance awaiting his appearance that the doors were in danger of collapsing. I decided to not join the scrum and stood quietly off to the inside of the hallway instead.
Changwook stepped off the elevator, and while flanked by both Bang Manager and Cho Manager, made a beeline for the exit towards the van idling on the side street. I called out his name, and after a nano-second watching him think “I know this person,” uttered a big HELLO and clasped both my hands in greeting! He obviously had no time for individual pictures (and I didn’t press the matter either) and everything happened so quickly, so I had no chance to whip out my camera to catch him leaving the theatre that evening.
The crowd quickly swallowed him up whole as he tried to push his way towards the waiting van, and after a few quick words addressing the crowd, he rode off into the night on his way to Paju for more “Healer” filming. Most of the crowd quickly dispersed, but several of us stayed behind to clean up and chat some more. I had a chance to chat for a few minutes alone with Kyunghee-ssi (Cho Manager), and passed on my gifts to Changwook to him since I was not about to get caught up in that crowd crush. But after a while the cold weather became unbearable, so we broke off into small groups to continue chatting over drinks and snacks until the wee hours of the night.
All in all, this was the best performance out of the three shows I’ve attended to date. Changwook was in perfect voice all night, forceful and strong when he needed to be, and light and tender when the scenes called for it. His solo on “Salanghaetjiman” (“Even If I Loved You”) brought me and everyone else sitting in the rows nearby to tears… good thing I packed extra tissues to share. *sobs*
“사랑했지만” (Photo from 2013 The Musical Awards performance)
When I finally got back to my room, I took a look at the gifts the DayRock gang had prepared. I was stunned to see all the items given out at Changwook’s July 2014 fan meeting (which I had to miss due to a schedule conflict), plus other bits n’ bobs. Chingudeul, kamsahamnida!!! *squeeeeeeee*
The next couple days were spent hanging around with fellow fans and other friends that have moved over to Korea to work or teach. You could not walk through any of the subway stations (especially around Daehaegno) without seeing at least one or two advertisements for the musical hanging from the walls or on poster standards near the entrance/exit gates.
And of course, some new hot spots were added to my must-see agenda this year. First stop, a NorthCape store! Since I arrived around dinnertime and it was snowing, the Dongdaemun store was pretty much deserted. But the staffs must have been used to fangirls like me showing up all the time wanting to take copious amounts of pictures, because they let me snap away to my heart’s content and shoved several catalogues into my hands. (I had to stifle a laugh when I saw the “Empress Ki Epilogue: 650 Years Later” CF showing on an infinite loop on a laptop set up next to the cash registers.)
Sadly, due to time constraints and the weather turning for the worse (too brutally cold to wander around in), I was unable to travel down to Gangnam-gu to visit the AD HOC flagship store, but the Lotte Department Store in Myeongdong had a small display of AD HOC wear. Unfortunately, the staffs there were not as accommodating as they were at the NorthCape store, but I still managed to get a few photos before being given the side-eye to either buy something or leave.
Myeongdong is also known for its outdoor farmer’s markets and luscious street food stalls. No visit to Seoul is never complete without acknowledging the… PERSIMMO-YUMMIES! ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ
Also found in Myeongdong were several Christmas displays still lit up and operational. This one caught my eye for obvious reasons…
After almost six days of running around like a madwoman, it was time to leave. The flurries were falling yet again as I left Jongro-gu for the airport. In walking towards my gate, something shiny caught my eye… it was a display of Oakley eyewear, and right on the top of the display case — HEALER Glasses!
The last thing I saw before closing my eyes to sleep on the return flight was the sunset over Incheon. But like many others that attended the “Night With Free-Spirited Muyeong,” I’ve already made plans to return to Korea as soon as Changwook’s next project is announced!
I want to thank the wonderful people in charge at Glorious Entertainment and the DayRock Daum Fan Cafe for their friendship and assistance over the years — you guys are the best and I have no idea how I will ever repay you for all your kindness! But most of all, uber-mega-thanks to Gabby for keeping The Kitchen up and humming whilst I was away freezing my butt off in a foreign country. Hopefully the next report from Korea will be a joint production between the two of us! *fingers crossed*
Happy New Year to everyone, and thanks for reading!