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Choi Min-ho to PH Fans: ‘I’m Home’

Minho in Manila

SHINee’s Minho’s visit to Manila, Philippines was a whirlwind romance. The announcement for his fanmeet was made in December, following its two-day kickoff in Seoul. One month later, he was onstage to meet his Filipino SHINee World or Shawols (fandom).

“Best Choi’s Min-ho: Lucky Choi’s in Manila” was held at the Mall of Asia Arena on Jan. 28. Ovation Productions was the event promoter in Manila.

And his fans have been waiting for this moment for almost six years.

It was the first time for Minho, also known as Choi Min-ho, to return to the country since 2017. Back then, he shared the stage with other SHINee members Onew, Key, Taemin and Jonghyun for the “One K Global Peace Concert.”

He opened the fanmeet with his R&B track “Heartbreak” wearing his “Best Choi’s” black and white jacket and black jeans with a perfectly positioned tear on his left thigh. He was also using his custom in-ear. It is the pair that honors his family and pays tribute to to Jonghyun.

The screams were deafening when he came back onstage to walk over to host Sam Oh. He listened to the screams for a bit before he motioned his hand to his side, signalling the fans to calm down. They obediently followed his cue.

Fan games

“Hello, Philippines. Long time no see, Shinee World!” he said. And the screams resumed as his fans raised their Shating Stars light sticks above their heads. The ocean of pearl aqua diamonds welcome him. He was beaming as he soaked in all the love that the fans were throwing at him.

The first game he played with fans was called the Lucky Box. The fan must strike the same pose as Minho according to the given keyword. The word was “Lucifer,” a 2010 SHINee track that was included in the Netflix show of the same title.

The song has a complex choreography but it is easily recognizable to fans with one iconic move: two hands pointing upwards before they shake the shoulders like getting electrocuted. Minho and the fan got the mission right away.

He dug inside the lucky box again, this time pulling out the quintessential Filipino formal wear.

Barong Tagalog,” he said, dragging the last syllable longer as he picked it up from the box. This is typical Minho. He got his moniker as the Flaming Charisma when they debuted in 2009 because he was always so passionate in whatever he does.

Minho in Manila
Photo by Bunny Javier
Barong Tagalog

The way he recognized the men’s top meant he researched about the Philippines before he flew in. He wore it without any goading. It fit him perfectly. The barong’s lines fell in the right places, including on the span of his broad shoulders.

“This is my first time wearing a barong Tagalog. This is a meaningful piece of clothing therefore it is meaningful to me,” he said.

He was asked to perform the folk dance pandanggo. He quickly got the steps and waltzed onstage confidently, swaying side to side with his arms behind his back.

The next mission was to do a pose with a few of his fans. It took a while before the last one came up onstage and Oh used the time to talk to the fans. When they were sharing where they were from, Minho told everyone that he’s from Seoul. This elicited some laughs.

The unscripted but witty moment was honed through years of hosting several shows.

Photo by Bunny Javier

Prince Charming

The next item in the box was a crown. The SHINee song “Beautiful” played, his fans started singing and he danced to it without anyone prompting him.
“It was a fun time and was really an honor wearing barong Tagalog,” he said when the Lucky Box segment ended.

The next segment was called Lucky Moment wherein he had to reenact several dramas. He reenacted scenes from “Alchemy of the Soul” and “Descendants of the Sun”. Minho did this with his own style and flair.

“This is a drama that I really loved and enjoyed, but now that I have to do it, it is really awkward,” he said referring to “Descendants”. SHINee leader Onew was also in this drama.

He did everything his fans asked him to do in this segment, without complaints or hesitation.

As a treat to the fans, he performed a medley of SHINee songs namely “Atlantis,” “Don’t Call Me,” “Kiss Kiss,” and “Code”.

He followed through with “Runaway” , a track for his mini album, “Chase.” It is really this song that showed who he was and which group he belonged to. He sang live while dancing, a SHINee trademark if there ever was one.

In the next segment Minho answered some questions. He was asked where he wants to run away to and he said, “What’s important is who you travel with. If I were to run away somewhere, the Philippines is the best place to go to since I enjoy the hot summer and the hot weather. In the Philippines, there is great food and kind people. I think the Philippines is the best place to run away to.”

Photo by Bunny Javier

Different dimension

He then talked about “Bros on Foot” which they shot in New Zealand.

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Minho then invited people to go to Kwangya. It’s an invented term which means internet wilderness. Kwangya in the SM Culture Universe implies a big place or universe in a different dimension.

Fans pointed out that Key, a resident (or president) of Keyland, would give him a side eye for his answer. He also recommended going to a photo studio in SM where fans could take a virtual photo with him. He suggested gimbap and samgyeopsal for food. Minho got surprised when he found out that they were popular food to his fans.

In the next segment, a fan showed him how to dance Sarah Geronimo’s “Dati-Dati” dance challenge. He watched the fan intently before copying the moves perfectly in one go, including the shoulder roll and body wave.

He ended the move by raising his hands to make two V signs and joining them together. This is a Minho signature. Two Vs make “W” which means World, SHINee World. He is, after all, the president of Shawols. “Chase” was the next song he performed on stage. He asked the crowd if they liked it. He thanked them for liking it.

“I would like to thank you all for your company. I would also like to apologize. I’m sorry I’m late,” he said.

A group showed their banner from the crowd which read “We Want Shinee World Concert VI in the Philippines.”

Home and family

It says everything about the fanmeet. Minho’s return as a solo artist was sweet but still tugged at the heart. How can you explain the excitement and happiness of seeing him in person again, finally? He is more than enough, but you also want to see him with the rest of his family.

“Alright. I am going to make sure that I will come with my members. Until then I want you to be healthy and always be happy. I love you, Philippines. Let’s meet again,” he said graciously. “I want you to know that you are my hope.”

His last song was “I’m Home.” It was his first ever solo track, making the choice meaningful. It was a song that he didn’t perform in Seoul. Manila being the first stop of the tour made it feel special. He sang it with such sincerity. His eyes glistened, he pursed his lips to stop tears from falling. He gratefully looked at his fans before bowing before them.

For those fans, they consider Minho their home.

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