It has been almost a year since I met Ji Chang Wook at his 2014 Taipei fan meeting, and I’m glad to be able to attend the first stop of his first ever Asia Tour this year! Those of you who read my fan account last year may recall me declaring that as the craziest thing I’ve ever done. I think my trip to Hong Kong this time tops that. Though I wasn’t too happy about certain things that happened that night, buying that ticket to Hong Kong to see him was a worthwhile decision nevertheless.
Event: This Is JCW Asia Tour – Hong Kong
Date: 20 June 2015 (Sat), 8pm
Venue: Kowloonbay International Trade & Exhibition Centre (KITEC), Star Hall
[I write long stories. If you don’t wish to read my ramblings about the event, you can just scroll down to the image gallery or fancams. Warning: Post is image heavy.]
Months ago, I had already arranged to go on a vacation with friends this June, so when news emerged that he was going to hold his fan meeting in June also, I thought I would be giving this a miss. But after much thinking, I decided that I HAD to be a part of his first ever Asia Tour somehow, and it seems improbable for him to hold a fan meet in Singapore at this point in time anyway, so I went ahead and made the necessary bookings to attend his Hong Kong fan meeting. After all was done, the press announced that Ji Chang Wook would be appearing at a mall event the night before the fan meeting. Argh, why didn’t you say so earlier?! I couldn’t adjust my schedule to attend… 😦
My vacation with friends two weeks before the event turned out to be more tiring than expected, and I even found myself having to catch up with a lot of work upon returning to the office, such that I barely had time to prepare for my trip to Hong Kong, much less prepare any gift for him. So by the time I was due to board my flight to Hong Kong at dawn on 20 June, I was filled with excitement and feeling very tired at the same time.
I came to Hong Kong several years ago, but maybe because it’s my first time coming here alone, it felt like a brand new adventure. After doing a bit of sightseeing till 5pm, it was time to head to the performance venue. I received an urgent text from my Korean friend that tickets had to be collected at the venue by 6pm, so I made a mad rush to Kowloon Bay even though I remember reading on the website that the box office would be open till much later. Better to be safe than sorry! Google Maps played me out by giving me the wrong bus information, so I ended up brisk walking and running to the venue from the train station for a good 20 minutes under the stifling heat. Urgh, this is not a good way to start the evening…
The venue was already packed by then, and I collected my ticket without a hitch. But upon entering the concert hall, I was astonished to find that my seat was right at the side (why am I always getting aisle seats?), and my view of the stage was even partially blocked! Although I already knew that my seat would be at the side when I booked my ticket, I certainly wasn’t expecting my view to be blocked, considering that I had paid for a VIP ticket and I was only eight rows away from the front. The fans seated in front of me were also upset and tried asking the staff if they could move to another section.
Amid all the confusion, I noticed his manager Bang Chi Gu and agency director Cho Kyung Hee (or you might know him better as his IG username RS7114) were standing right beside me! A few fans started whipping out their cameras to take pictures of them, and I probably would have done so if I was further away from them. It would be rather impolite of me to stick my camera right in front of their faces, right? Somehow, seeing them at close range made me feel as excited as seeing a celebrity in the flesh. They were busy discussing something, and I didn’t have the guts to say hi to them. I decided I wasn’t going to sit at this corner with my view obstructed the whole night. Heck with the rules — I didn’t fly all the way here for this! So I took my belongings and moved to two rows further behind where there were a few empty seats nearer to the middle. I was still far from being in the middle, but at least I had a somewhat better view. Luckily, no one stopped me from changing seats. I’ll just have to make do with this.
Part 1 – Opening
The lights dimmed, and after a short opening video was played, someone started playing the piano and Ji Chang Wook began the show singing “지켜줄게 (I’ll Protect You)” from his drama “Healer”. I could hear the music, but where was he? Turns out he was seated in front of the grand piano, and he was the one playing the piano! Wow, he barely knew how to play his guitar last year, and now he’s playing the piano? Although not at the level of In Ha in “Five Fingers”, I was still impressed, especially since I can’t play the piano myself.
His performance was quite cute as he screwed up his playing at certain parts of the song. What a way to make an entrance, LOL. His mistakes were pretty obvious because fans were singing along, but he would suddenly make awkward pauses as he tried to find the correct keys on the piano. He smiled in embarrassment and I still can’t help laughing when I re-watch my crappy fan cam. It wasn’t possible to see him play the piano from the area where I was seated, so I was glad when he finally stood up to finish the rest of the song.
After the song, he greeted the crowd in Cantonese, saying “I miss you” and “Hello, I’m Ji Chang Wook”. I’m not fluent in Cantonese, but I can understand a little since I was once a big fan of Hong Kong dramas and Cantopop singers. Fan-girling can be useful sometimes, ha. I guess his pronunciation wasn’t terrible since I could understand him (forgive me if I get the sequence of events wrong in my fan account because my memory is fuzzy). He said he invited a special guest here tonight. Wow, could it be Julian Cheung, the Hong Kong actor whom he keeps talking about recently? “Bark! Bark!” An image of his white dog Loli appeared on the screen. He said he brought Loli here today, but I couldn’t see her anywhere except for her photo on the big screen and what seemed like a recording of her barking. Er, okay, so seems like Loli is your “special guest”, LOL? He said it with a poker face and seemed quite serious about it. Wonder if it was his idea to include this in the show since it seems like something he would do.
He was also surprised to see that the audience seemed to understand whatever he was saying in Korean, even before the translator translated his words to Cantonese. With the Hallyu wave being so strong now, he ought to start getting used to this as more people are learning Korean these days. He also tried to explain his mistakes in the opening song, insisting that he usually does better. (The show has barely begun, why are you being so awkwardly funny right from the start?) He then sat back down at the piano and played a short verse, and it did sound better than earlier. I guess he was too nervous just now? I thought he was going to perform the opening song all over again since he didn’t seem satisfied with his performance earlier, but he quickly got up and said this is just for your reference and he’s still learning. Ha, so he just wanted to prove that he’s not THAT bad with the piano. He said this is his first time playing the piano and singing at the same time. Although he’s still lacking, he will do better next time. He also said the same thing with his pathetic guitar strumming last year, and I think this is already a marked improvement from last year, so he did keep his word! (Er, but you are first and foremost an actor, so no need to get so hung up about becoming a musician, okay?)
Unlike last year, he had a live band for his fan meeting this time. He introduced the band to the audience, saying with a straight face that the name of his band is called “JCW Band”, and it was just set up today. Okay, so when are you going to release your debut album? Just kidding. After “inspecting” his band and doing a cute/weird dance move that made the guitarist smile uncontrollably, he went backstage for a costume change.
Dressed like a rock star with a leather jacket (just short of a pair of sunglasses and a Harley Davidson), he reappeared on stage to perform “하늘을 달리다 (Running Across the Sky)“, an upbeat song by his favourite singer Lee Juck (이적), who is quite a famous and respected singer in Korea. Ji Chang Wook has always been singing ballads, so it is refreshing to hear him sing an up-tempo song for once. It’s quite a challenging song to sing though, and I thought it didn’t quite suit his voice, but everyone wishes to sing a song by your favourite singer, right? I recall him choosing to sing this song when he went to a karaoke joint to film a SBS variety show several years back, so this must be a favourite song of his.
After singing, it was time for a round of games. Ji Chang Wook was asked to choose 3 members of the audience by drawing lots from a box. I knew I didn’t stand a chance of getting chosen since we weren’t told about this lucky draw at all, and seeing that the box is not even half full, I guess many people didn’t submit their personal details for the draw either. Not sure if I understood the activity properly, but there were 3 cups on the table which the fans had to drink, and I think he was supposed to guess which one contained salty coffee. He clarified if the fans were suppose to drink the whole cup, and seemed very shocked by the thought of it. He even helped a fan to finish up one of the cups.
Apparently, the one who gets to drink the cup of normal coffee will get to have her nails painted by him. Wow, such fan service! He ended up painting the nails of all 3 fans who went on stage. I notice he always makes sure that no one leaves the stage empty handed, regardless of whether they won the game or not; it was also the case last year. That’s very nice of him. He even tried to pick a nail polish colour that he thinks will suit the fan, looking up and down between the fans’ faces and his bottles of nail polish. It was quite amusing to see him select nail polish like he was making a very important decision.
He said he hasn’t done this before, so he’s not good at painting nails. He seemed very careful and focused on his task, and he probably does a better job at painting nails than me. By his second (or was it third?) try, he even knew how to shake the bottle before opening. He says he gets better at this after a few tries. Are you feeling proud of yourself that you learnt something new today? Haha.
After disappearing backstage for another costume change, a video played on the screen, showing pictures and scenes of him in “Empress Ki”, “Healer” (drawing many screams from the fans), and his musical “The Days”. (Glorious seems to have a lot of well-taken footage of him at the musical, so why not release them on DVD?) He emerged on stage dressed in a black chequered top and white pants and performed the song “그날들 (Those Days)” from his musical “The Days”, originally sang by the late Kim Gwang Seok. At this point, I was rather annoyed by the people seated around me who kept laughing during his performance. He was putting in his heart and soul to sing a ballad, but sadly, it was hard for me to listen closely to his singing when there are people talking and laughing away.
After saying a few words to the audience, he once again said that he invited two special guests tonight. Oh! Not one guest, but two?! Who could it be? Will it be Julian Cheung this time? *excited* No, he “invited” Tahwan, who came here all the way from Yuan, and Healer from Korea, as images of the two of them appeared on screen. *sigh and face palm* Oh boy, you are so full of crap. I feel cheated again. I’m not going to take you seriously if you are going to say that you brought another guest again.
For the next activity, he was suppose to draw lots and call two fans on their handphone to come on stage, where they will act out scenes from “Healer”. Wow, imagine receiving a call from your idol! The chosen fans couldn’t believe it when their phones started ringing. Ji Chang Wook was once again surprised that one of the fans could answer his call in Korean and he wanted to clarify if she was from Korea, so he was all the more impressed when he found out that she wasn’t Korean.
The scenes that fans could choose from were rather…uhm…lovey dovey kind of couple scenes in “Healer”. Basically, kissing and hugging scenes that will give you sleepless nights after acting them out with him, haha. Also among the scenes up for selection was the shirtless scene of him from the beginning of episode 1 in “Healer”. I’ve no idea how is that going to be acted out on stage O_O
By a random draw, the first fan got the chance to act out the winter kiss scene with him. Omo, I can imagine all the fans in the hall and around the world envying her. (I would be hiding in a hole for days if I were her.) He brought along the actual beanie worn by Chae Young Shin in the show, and he had to help the fan wear the beanie twice because it dropped off the first time. And then he went in for the kiss…okay, it was an ALMOST-kiss. It would be headline news if he kissed his fan for real (and maybe also get accused for exposing her to MERS *rolls eyes*).
The next fan got to act out an action scene with him. I thought he was going to do his famous back flip on stage, but he merely did a weird crouching pose and snapped a picture with her, lol. Still better than nothing! He even gave both fans his personal sunglasses and a hat. What must I do to get such good fortune?
After airing a short video interview, he reappeared in a plain white T-shirt with jeans. There was a pile of gifts at the side of the stage, and he started going through some of his presents, which included a big balloon doll of Healer. He thanked fans for the gifts, then went to the edge of the stage to collect a gift from a fan. That triggered a whole horde of fans to rush towards the stage, offering him the gifts that they’ve prepared for him. I looked to my right to see how his manager and staff were reacting to this, but they didn’t do anything to stop fans from crowding around him. It’s fortunate that nothing bad happened. It was around this time that I noticed his hairstylist Jung Mi Young was sitting next to me. She looked really pretty in real life! She seemed to be enjoying the show too.
Next up was the song “널 생각해 (Thinking of You)” by One More Chance. It was my first time hearing this song, but I found it very soothing and liked it immediately. I like that he chooses these kind of indie (?) songs instead of mainstream Kpop songs. But the downside is that foreign fans may not be familiar enough with these songs to sing along with him.
I suddenly felt like I was attending a recording session of “Yoo Hee Yeol’s Sketchbook” as the night took on a melancholic vibe when he continued to perform two more ballads — Lee Juck’s “Rain”, which he sang in his drama “Bachelor Vegetable Store”; and “미안해 (Sorry)”, a song from the musical “Caffeine” which he also sang at the Taiwan fan meeting last year.
After singing all the sad ballads, he said he will be singing a song that is often sang during marriage proposals. Oooh, could it be Lee Seung Gi’s “Will You Marry Me”? I can sing that song along with you!! And it’s about time you lightened the mood. That song was the first one that came to mind, so I was surprised when he mentioned Kim Jong Kook’s “사랑스러워 (Lovable)” instead. I couldn’t believe my ears. You mean you are going to perform those embarrassing dance moves that Kim Jong Kook had been teased about for years?! I cannot imagine it.
He tried to teach the fans to sing the words “sa rang seu ro wo” (which is basically the title of the song) in the chorus. Okay no problem! I’m familiar with the song but not the lyrics, so it was only after I went home and double-checked the lyrics did I realise that the chorus actually alternates between “SA rang seu ro wo (lovable)” and “JA rang seu ro wo (proud)”. Teacher, you didn’t teach us the song properly! But I can understand why he did that for simplicity’s sake, since not everyone in the audience knows Korean.
Unfortunately (or fortunately?), he didn’t do the song’s trademark silly finger-pointing dance during his performance, which is both a pity and a relief. He did, however, prance around the stage like a rabbit with his rabbit hair band.
Ever the selca king, he used a selfie stick to snap a picture of himself with the audience, but not everyone could fit into his picture of course. I guess this is going to be a compulsory thing to do for all his fan meetings. He then uploaded the picture to his Instagram and Weibo on the spot.
Finally, it was time to say goodbye. He said in Cantonese, “I love you, see you next time”, and then went back to sit in front of the grand piano. Noooo! Don’t sit there! I can’t see you 😦 But, oh what a pleasant surprise…he’s singing a Chinese song! And out of so many Chinese songs out there, he had to choose Guang Liang’s “童话 (Tong Hua/Fairytale)”, one of my favourites! This is a nostalgic song for me as it brought back some memories of my time in school when it was first released. I haven’t been listening to Chinese songs for years, so I would have been totally lost if he had chose to sing a more recent song instead. I’m also glad he didn’t choose to sing one of those older and cheesy classic songs (“Tian Mi Mi”, anyone?)
(I’m willing to become the angel you love in fairytales)
(I spread out my hands, becoming wings to protect you)
(You must believe, believe that we will be just like in fairytales)
(where happiness and joy is the ending)
If only fairytales were real…
In my opinion, I thought he sang the song really well!! His pronunciation of the Chinese words was good too and I was able to understand what he was singing. It was really funny how he kept forgetting the words in the first line of the chorus, so he kept replacing the words he forgot with “na na na”. Nevertheless, I thought this song suited his voice quite well, so, “thank you” to whoever chose this song for him! Maybe he should try singing more Chinese songs. How about trying Wang Lee Hom’s “Kiss Goodbye” next time, please?
He then bade goodbye and left the stage, with the cameraman following him backstage to film him walking through the many corridors, which was shown live on the big screen. He turned around to face the camera, waved, and the doors closed…and that was it? The end? I think I wasn’t the only one then who was expecting him to reappear on stage for an encore, but the lights came on and the emcee announced the end of the event. Er, I thought that was rather anti-climatic. I was a bit disappointed that there was no encore, and the show seemed to have ended too soon. But there was still the high-touch session to look forward to!
As I was seated in one of the last few rows of the VIP section, I had to wait quite a while in the queue for my turn. Unlike last year, I didn’t have any gifts to pass to him this time. As it neared my turn, the staff told us to use our left hand for the high-touch, and before I knew it, the queue was moving so fast till the point that everyone had to run to catch up with the person in front. Hey! What’s the rush?! I ran towards him, high-fived him, and then it was over in an instant. A high-touch was already a brief touch in the first place, but making us run shortened the interaction to just a split second. Seeing photos of the high-touch session released by the organiser after the show, I found out that those who were in the queue early got to do the high-touch with him using both hands. Urgh, I got the short end of the stick again.
I tried to write this fan account as best as I could, but I can’t conceal some of the dissatisfaction I had at the event that night. A combination of factors plus a lot of bad luck dampened my experience of what could have been a very enjoyable night. I’m not trying to blame anyone, and I should be feeling very fortunate that I even had the chance to attend this fan meeting, but I just find it a pity that it did not turn out to be a wonderful experience like last year. In fact, I’m the kind who prefers to watch my idol sing more songs than play games at fan meetings, so I am very happy that Ji Chang Wook made this almost like a proper concert, singing 8 songs in total. He was also as well-mannered and awkwardly funny as usual, and was even hard-working enough to learn the piano and a Chinese song just for a fan meeting, so what more can I ask for?
On the other hand, I was surprised that he didn’t sing “To the Butterfly” and “Even Though I Loved You” as I thought those were among his more popular songs. How about holding a concert next time where he only sings his own songs, or songs from his own dramas? He still has many of his songs that he hasn’t performed live before. I’d love to hear him sing “Fill Me Up” from the “Five Fingers” OST, and “Perhaps” from the “Jack the Ripper” musical. Ah, looks like I’m already looking forward to his next round of fan meetings! Hmm, when will that be…?
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