Ji Chang-wook stood at the center of the stage, taking in the sight of his 7,000 Filipino fans who came to see him. “I am so happy to be here. You know, when I’m at home, my mom doesn’t love me this much. Thank you for the love,” he told his fans.
The statement about his mom, of course, was a joke. Ji is known for many things, and his devotion to his mom is one of them. Comparing the reception to the love of his mom just showed how grateful he was to his fans. It was the best compliment the Korean star could give to his fans.
Ji held his fan meeting, “Reach You,” at the Mall of Asia Arena (MOA) on Nov. 6. The show was presented by Bench, of which Ji is brand ambassador. Ji said during the press conference that he titled the show “Reach You” because he wanted to reach the fans he had not met for a very long time.
His fans had been preparing for this meeting for years. It showed. Many came in glow-in-the-dark t-shirts printed by the fan club Ji Chang-wook Philippines (JCWPH).
The admins of the JCWPH Facebook page—Anne Dela Cruz, Angel Ibañez, Steph Dolor and Kang Garcia—told us how they were able to pull off one of the most organized fan projects we’ve seen so far this year.
“We’ve been preparing for this moment since we decided to grow our fan base,” said Dolor.
Jumped into action
Ibañez said that they planned for the fan meet even when they did not have any definitive date. They already identified what they would do. Hence, when the date of the fan meet was announced, they jumped into action.
“We only had a month of preparation after that. But if you love what you do, you will not feel any weariness,” Dela Cruz said.
The “Reach You” event kicked off in Seoul on Oct. 23. Glorious Entertainment announced the actor’s schedule in September.
JCWPH sold almost 1,000 glow-in-the-dark t-shirts. Proceeds were then used to buy random merch that was distributed as freebies. On the day, they distributed 1,000 pens, A3-sized posters, and bookmarks; 3,000 pins and stickers; 4,000 decals; and 5,000 photo cards.
They held a cup sleeve event on the same day as “Reach You” at the Black Scoop Cafe at the SMX Convention Center. Their kits included all the items above with premium merch, such as key holders, bubble headbands and fans.
The extra items were also given away, including the bubble headbands. The headbands are typically sold outside the venue for P100 each. JCWPH gave away 500 pieces for free.
The group is quite used to mobilizing its members. It once sent a coffee truck to Ji in Seoul, gave away masks and alcohol at the start of the pandemic, and has continuously done charity work in Ji’s name through the years.
Ji opened the fan meet with a rendition of “Do You Believe in Magic?” from the soundtrack of the show “The Sound of Magic.” He performed five more songs, all from his dramas, including “To the Butterfly” (“Empress Ki”), “Kissing you” (“7 First Kisses”), “Even Though I Loved You” (“The Days”) and “101 Reasons Why I Love You” (“Suspicious Partner”).
Ji’s humility about his singing talent was displayed during the presser. He said that he’s not a singer, that he’s just an actor who was given the opportunity to sing tracks from his shows. He has, however, appeared in several musicals, including “Shinheung Military Academy Musical.”
Fans Ina Ocampo, Anna Arbolario and Miaa Bautista-Macadaan said that the number of songs he performed was a surprise.
“Ji Chang-wook sang a lot of songs! Not every fan meet can claim that,” said Ocampo. Arbolario said that she loved how Ji connected with his fans.
Believe in magic
But Ji is not only a singer. He performed a magic trick on stage, to give away a necklace to one lucky fan. The actor also granted several fans’ wishes, including asking him to record a morning call and a photo op.
On stage, one fan hugged him and he hugged her back. He ended up doing the same to all the other fans that came onstage. It’s these gestures that showed his appreciation of his fans.
That gesture resonated with Fe Garcia, who came with her daughter, Edna. She has watched all of Ji’s dramas. But he holds a special place in her heart because Ji’s birthday is the same as her husband’s.
Hazel Anne Perez caught our eyes because she came to the fan meet wearing a dress with Ji’s face printed on it. Part of her patron ticket perk was to send off Ji after the concert. It was supposed to be just a quick wave to the actor.
“But I wanted to stand out and I wanted him to see me, so when it was my turn, I waved my hand to form a big heart, I jumped and danced in front of him,” she said. Her efforts paid off as she saw him smile and he gave her a finger heart. “His bodyguards asked me to leave, but I didn’t stop dancing until I was out of his sight.”
JCWPH’s Dela Cruz and her fellow admins loved how Ji interacted with the fans.
“We were teary-eyed because we felt his love for the fans and vice versa. We felt his sincerity towards us. He really reached out to us,” she said.
It was not a K-pop concert, but it had an encore. Ji sang “I Will Protect You” from the drama “Healer.”
This was also the moment when fans made sure that Ji felt their love. JCWPH had printed 10,000 hand banners and distributed them before the event. The banners bore the message, “You are worth the wait.”
“This was planned way back in 2019. We’ve tried reaching out to several promoters and conducted surveys to bring him to the country before the Bench endorsement happened,” JCWPH’s Ibañez said.
Fans know that an endorsement with Bench almost always ends with a fan meet. They were looking forward to finally having the event in 2020. But the lockdowns happened, hence the idea was shelved.
Dela Cruz said that the slogan they submitted to Glorious Entertainment expresses their happiness of being in the same room as the actor. The group gave away blue stickers for the attendees’ phones.
It was lit up during the encore. But even the color was meticulously chosen.
“We wanted to create a blue flame effect. The blue flame is a symbol of safety and protection,” said Dela Cruz. “A blue flame in a candle is often interpreted as a good sign. It means your guardian angel is looking after you. We wanted to show him a blue flame ocean.”
Everybody had goosebumps as the arena was filled with the blue light. “Reach You” did not have an official light stick. There were no fan chants. But fans waving their phones to show their unconditional love for him was beautiful. And in that moment, that was enough.