It was the closest I have ever gotten to Park Hyung-sik: right beside his video in the gallery of a Zoom meeting with the media on Jan. 9. It hardly mattered that it was just a virtual meeting, and that he most likely did not even see me.
I was elated to just be in the same (Zoom) “room” with him. The moment he entered the meeting, my heart skipped a beat. When he first spoke, it felt so surreal. He was talking to me—okay, granted there were quite a handful of us on that call, but still. I was hearing his voice, and it was not from a K-drama or a song or a random interview on YouTube. He was right there, in front of me.
When he was introduced as “Park Hyung-sik oppa,” he let out a little chuckle. It was distinct, musical and contagious. It was a good ice breaker.
That PHS magic
I am a late convert. I only “met” him at the height of the pandemic in 2020. Watching these dramas became my bonding activity with my husband. We would watch an episode late at night, after our baby fell asleep. We would take turns choosing which drama to watch. I chose “Hwarang” one night because I heard there were a lot of pretty boys there.
I did not know any of the “pretty boys,” save for Park Seo-jun, as we had already seen a few of his dramas. My curiosity was piqued by the man who played the “king in hiding,” though. Purely by chance, my husband picked “Strong Woman Do Bong-soon” as our next drama to watch. He thought it had a fun premise.
Lo and behold, there he was again, the king from “Hwarang.” I loved his character and the chemistry he had with Park Bo-young. So I looked him up some more. And down the rabbit hole I went. I trawled YouTube for performances and music videos of his idol group ZE:A, which, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated, under-appreciated K-pop groups of all time.
I looked for the other dramas and variety shows he was in. I had the last ZE:A album, “Continue,” on repeat on Spotify. I dreamed of one day being able to attend one of his fan meetings.
The last one he had in Manila was in 2019, a year before he did his military service and the pandemic. I had almost given up hope of ever getting the chance to see him until the announcement came out that he is coming back to the Philippines on Feb. 17 for “SIKcret Time.”
It’s a fan meeting at the Araneta Coliseum and promoted locally by and MQLive.
“It’s been a long time since my last visit. I’m really sorry for visiting this late. Since I’m coming here after a long time, I prepared a lot for you guys. Hope you guys expect a lot from me, and I hope many of you guys can come,” Hyungsik said via Zoom.
He did not reveal too many details about the fan meet program, but he did say that he would be singing some songs from his drama OSTs, and that he “prepared a lot to have a great time with my fans.”
The actor admitted to being very nervous and excited, this being the first time he will be back in the country since 2019. He also said he was looking forward to an opportunity to visit some of the country’s popular dive sites, as he heard “that the Philippines has some of the best spots.”
Hyungsik is a licensed scuba diver. During his last fan meeting here in 2019, he spent three days in Cebu, diving and barely sleeping. Given the chance to go on a long vacation, he said the Philippines would be a great option.
“Since there are many good islands that I can visit, I can try fishing, scuba diving, and many other activities.”
It’s not just diving. He has more fond memories of the Philippines.
“My fondest memory of the Philippines is that the fans were very passionate. I was very happy to see them and interact with them. And also the food was really delicious. The weather was perfect as well. It actually gave me a feeling that I would not like to go back to Korea,” he said.
Past and future rolesHe said his goals for 2024 would be to complete his Asia fan meetings and to have more projects “to showcase myself more to you guys.”
He has an upcoming drama, “Doctor Slump,” with “The Heirs” co-star Park Shin-hye, which he said had a relevant message for us living in this busy, modern world. He related that his character Yeo Jeong-woo’s positive personality allowed him to “handle and conquer the hardships he faced.” “Doctor Slump” is so far his most memorable project, he said, as he laughed a lot while filming it.
He related a lot to the story and the character, although in terms of similarities to his own personality, he said he was most like his “Strong Woman Bong-Soon” character Ahn Min-hyuk “because the way that he jokes around is actually how I am when I’m with my friends.” His boyish good looks have had him cast in mostly goody-goody roles, but he longs to try other genres, too—noir, in particular. He would also like to play the role of someone with super powers, like in the Disney+ drama “Moving.”
Little does he know that he already has superpowers in real life. How else would you explain that immense hold he has on us, his super fans?