[Article]The Last Saturday of April
Finally it happened after months preparation the journey of self assigned representatives of Henecia Philippines 🇵🇭 to the Fanmeet was long and almost torturous route. IiHe Even before setting foot on the tiles of Inchon airport, there were all sorts of suspenseful turns from obtaining airline ticket, passport, visa, arrangement for accomodation, itinerary, and others. We had a thousand meetings, texted each other, burned the messenger pages, endless bank and credit card transactions thanks to Liz, Nadz,Tita Penny and of course our South Korean connections. I did not even mention that Metro Manila was a busy hive due to the ASEAN leaders’ meet the last week of April. They were coming in and we were going out.
Seoul was what tourists expected it to be that night we arrived. Colourful lights from giant LED screens showing celebrity endorsed commercials competed with brightly lit business signs. Buses and cars were still on the road though lessened in numbers, the number of urbanites had dwindled down except the night shoppers.It was a good hour long trip from the airport to our temporary home. We discussed what will happen the next day, the highlight of the trip. From the looks of it our schedule for the next seven days was tight. We didn’t expect it to be unforgettable.
That last Saturday of April started for us with a Lotte Entertainment World visit followed by a sumptuous meal. We feared we will be tired for the Fanmeet but the mind and heart prevailed for the man we wanted to meet. We were greeted by the sight of fans already in line ready to enter the venue. An almost spontaneous reunion happened seeing old friends -veterans of past fanmeets and concerts. It was also the right time to meet new friends or comrade in arms for Hyun Joong. That spring night was more than cool but the anticipation of the fans somehow upped the temperature. Fever pitch that couldn’t be helped after all the waiting, never mind the stress from the cases, the recent twist of the driving incident, but it was more the excitement seeing him again after four years.
Fans couldn’t go wrong in locating the venue as KHJ giant posters were all over the glass walls and doors. For the FM, fans exchanged KHJ souvenir giveaways, maybe more will come from the organisation of fans who also sent rice wreaths to the venue earlier. A standard of congratulatory gesture to the celebrity but with social intentions to benefit the less fortunate such as orphaned children.
The seats were assigned according to the ticket purchased. It was a little bit complicated for the overseas fans who had to rely on some generous souls to intercede in their behalf. At the venue it was at least organised, and fans were seated soon enough. The distribution of seats I heard were lotteried, otherwise how to explain the best seats taken. Although the venue was not completely full, the overall numbers of about 4,000 fans was impressive enough.
The lights dimmed at the venue signalling the start of the show already fifteen minutes late. Slight commotion emerged from the audience seated below the stage perhaps thinking KHJ will enter through the back. The stage backdrop was simple and the band physically played. Down at the audience level one finds 4 tables where his technical support people manned computers and many more behind the curtains. Outside and inside the venue bodyguards and guards were all over the place. One realisation was that this Facemeet now almost a concert, involved people and money, time and lots of preparations. Two giant screens,one in the left and the other on the right of the stage enlarged HJ stage presence.
The stage came alive with his band playing and after few minutes KHJ came out singing immediately. He wore an all black attire, while subdued lights serving as his background reflected on his face. Were perspiration the ones glistening on his face or tears ? The lack of bright colors at the beginning of the Fanmeet conveyed his mood in the opening numbers- serious and pensive.
He sang his first four songs with all his might, veins radiating almost ready to pop out on his neck, body slightly swaying, open palms releasing his energy in belting it all out. His audience responded with swaying of green sticks and clapping. He finally spoke, clear and direct to his point that almost everyone expected. After explaining the meaning of Anemone as ” I love you forever” he went on to say ‘it was better to go on with the Fanmeet and thank you (The fans) now than some other time later. He didn’t go into specifics as he must have assumed his fans knew about them anyway. A slice of his army life he shared while he addressed his weaknesses and frailties, and thanking everyone for understanding and standing by him in spite of them all.He promised to do better reflecting and doing good deeds.
After his talk he ventured into songs again, this time his songs were lighter, faster, happier. He dressed in white to match the change in his mood. If he “died” in the past in what had happened to him, he is now “resurrected”, revived and alive again. Seeing his fans at the Fanmeet gave him hope. That hope was intensified with the presence of his family and friends, including his SS501 members Kyu Jong and Young Saeng. He joked several times displaying his famous smiles and eyes narrowing in glee. His love for dance music, his body language gave him away : he was 🕺 dancing slightly through the songs that made him known and well loved. He looked like repressing it, the audience missing his dancing, thought he would just give in.
He paused and we thought there will be intermission but he returned strumming his guitar for a full number. After which he goes down from the stage to his audience. The audience broke into screams as he weaved into the audience still singing, at one time almost tripping while doing so. He returns only to go back again to another section of the audience at the sides and shook hands with two of our Henecia Philippines members who were mobility challenged. In his third time mingling with the audience he went to another side only to be met with surging fans prompting his body guards to lead him back to stage.
Three boxes were also laid on the stage containing questions/comments from Chinese, Japanese and Korean fans. He dipped his hands into them to get the questions but he said most were saying ‘fighting’. If they would have scolded him as he earlier said ‘gentle criticism’, he would have welcomed them. One question taken out asked for his next project, for which he replied not in
Korea, not for awhile but in Japan. Very sad indeed for a country he defended with his life, the cases he didn’t cause, and driving incident many commit he would be 🙅♂️ rejected.
He sang a total of 15 songs: Please,Your Story,Let Me be the One,Gentlemen,Gentlemen,Beauty, White Hole, Thank you,Lucky Guy,I’m Your Man,Unbreakable,Do You Like That,Nothing On You, Imademo,What I Wanted to Say and Save Today. The list is like his thoughts on what had happened to him and what he wants to happen. Was it a case of prognostication?
As the Fanmeet pressed through the night, the fans danced to his songs while other kinds of light sticks were waved about. The atmosphere was further ignited with explosions of colors of stage lighting effects. As usual the fans chanted out his name in unison.
As all good things must come to an end, the Fanmeet dwindled down to its final number. Some of the fans started leaving the venue while a greater number stayed for the handshake. Outside, what most people didn’t know that five lucky persons ( Tita Penny, Nadz, Jeng, Liz and Jackie Kim) would be able to get their picture taken with no less than KHJ. KHJ himself asked “picture, picture?” Would you have turned that down?
Some of us lingered around in the lobby, where we saw KHJ’s family : his mother and father, his hyung, young son and wife. What a delightful bonus of the night.Earlier, we saw his friends who were easily recognisable in the crowd – Jun Sang, Lucas among others.
Some fans took with them some of the smaller KHJ posters outside the venue.Others wrote down on the white paper 📝 pinned on the wall their sentiments and comments on that memorable night. A memorable night that perhaps will signal the beginning of a new era in the life of this entertainer.
Still on cloud nine the Philippine Henecians rode on the van back to their residence bubbling about the Fanmeet. Do you think they easily fell asleep that night?
What they didn’t know was they were going to meet in person in the days to follow: Shin Dong Ho of Ukiss and Jun Sang of Jaksal, HJ’s long time and close friend.
Go to YouTube to watch KHJ videos in his Anemone 2017 FM
Pay attention at mark 1:46 on Part 14, we can see Hyun Joong Shook Hands with Tita Penny and Jackie Kim and recieved gifts from Jackie’s Mom and Aunt.