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A dinner date with Lee Min-ho

Lee Min-ho
Lee Min-ho met with his Filipino fans for one night last on Oct. 15, but it was not a fan meet. It was a date.
The actor didn’t sing or dance, but he chatted sincerely with his fans. He did it over a fancy three-course meal, music and gave away exclusive photo cards as gifts. It was intimate and romantic.
Something only Lee Min-ho could pull off.
Lee Min-ho came back to Manila over the weekend to celebrate the 65th anniversary of SM Development Corp. (SMDC). He is the ambassador of SMDC, bearing the moniker of “Good Guy,” to match SMDC’s motto of being “Home of the Good Guys.”
This is Lee Min-ho’s first visit to the Philippines after seven years. But it was as if he never left. For a lot of Filipino fans, Lee was their “first love.” He was their gateway to the inescapable world of K-dramas.
Some of these fans may have become fans of other Korean celebrities, but all Lee Min-ho had to do was call them back to his side and they all came running.
“I remember the faces of some of my fans from ‘Boys Over Flowers’ days. I am grateful that they are still with me,” he said through his translator.
The Philippines has become a hot spot for Hallyu events. Filipinos are spoiled for choice on which fan meet or concert to attend because they happen practically every week. It’s not unheard of to have three simultaneous events in one day in three different locations.
Lee Min-ho SMDC
Lee Min-ho answers some questions from the press. Photo by Eugene Araneta

Private affair

But Lee’s event was unlike any other.
For starters, it was a private affair. Tickets were not sold to the public. In attendance were SM executives, SMDC employees and SM partners. More than 600 seats were opened to new SMDC unit buyers. It is, after all, SMDC’s milestone to celebrate.
The property developer also gave away seats for members of Lee’s fandom, Minoz. It was a huge flex of his power. Lee is one of the few Korean actors popular with both men and  women.
Male viewers liked him in “City Hunter” and women fell in love with him in “Boys Over Flowers.” The second season for his drama “Pachinko” will be out soon.
“There are people who still call me Gu Jun-pyo,” he said in a press conference held earlier in Conrad, referring to his character in “Boys Over Flowers.”
The show aired more than 13 years ago but he expressed amazement that people still recognize him from that drama. Lee is the walking definition of a household name. Everyone in attendance knew of him. Their hearts fluttered whenever he giggled.
The setup of the fan meeting was also different, very special. Guests walked on a blue carpet—blue being SM’s color—to enter the venue. Instead of theater-style seats, there were fancily decked out dinner tables and Tiffany chairs. Food by Bizu was served. A string quartet played romantic songs in the background, setting the mood for the night.
Jed Madela serenaded the crowd with songs from the ’80s. In the middle of the room was a circular platform. There was a white couch for Lee to sit on. That platform rotated slowly in 360 degrees, giving everyone an opportunity to have Lee face them directly.
The actor walked in a blue suit and a black shirt. By the time he walked onto the stage amid the screaming crowd, everybody was primed to fall in love with him all over again.
Lee Min-ho SMDC
Lee Min-ho looks gorgeous in his suit. Photo by Eugene Araneta

Honest and direct

He answered a set of questions, posed to him by host Sam Oh, honestly and directly. Lee addressed the recent issue of body shaming without flinching.
“The truth is, my face easily gets swollen,” he began. “Sometimes when there are important events that I have to prepare for, and I eat something wrong, my face gets bloated easily, so I end up not eating anymore. There are a lot of times that I feel hungry.”
There was a collective “awww” from the audience. Lee smiled at the reaction, before adding, “Especially during shoots, I don’t eat that much because I am sensitive.”
Lee Min-ho appreciates good meat and revealed that he likes lechon. He even asked his fans for recommendations. He often receives an epic number of gifts from fans, and he said that he always reads the letters and keeps them.
As the ambassador of SMDC, what he likes in his home was discussed in both the presscon and dinner. Lee revealed that he prefers the pool over the gym even though he cannot swim. He’s actually more of a biker who likes to explore nature.
This is something that he also would like to have in his home: a view where he sees nature. He said he enjoyed his room at the Conrad Manila that overlooks Manila Bay.

Home essentials

He shared his top three essentials in his home: a sofa for people to gather around in, a microwave, and, as a clincher, he said he wants a double king-sized bed. He laughed at this without explaining any further.
It was a special day spent with Lee. He was serious and straightforward with the press, but very sweet and loving with his fans. He invited one onstage and actually wanted to invite more, had there been more time.
There’s also such a familiarity between Lee and his fans that he gets to joke around with them. The fan project they prepared for him on this visit was so long, that he said he thought he’d be watching it until his flight home.
He told his fans how grateful he is that they stayed with him all this time. How could they not—for his fans, Lee Min-ho is their home.
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