Inquirer Super

Rowoon’s many firsts in Manila fanmeet

By: Ruth L. Navarra

It was a night of many firsts for South Korean actor, model and singer Rowoon. The fan meeting held at SM Mall of Asia Arena on June 26 was the first one in his solo career (idols can have careers outside their group). He covered his mouth in shock and delight when he first walked onto the stage and saw the number of people present at the arena.

“I am overwhelmed. This is a very special day. I didn’t expect that a lot of fans would be waiting for me in the Philippines. I think this will be one of my unforgettable memories,” he said.

The event was hosted by Globe Kmmunity, the telco’s online Hallyu community. Tickets were exclusively distributed to Globe postpaid and prepaid subscribers. This is the first face-to-face Hallyu event of Globe since the pandemic.

Rowoon is the stage name of 25-year-old Kim Seok-woo. He debuted as the lead vocalist for the boy group SF9 in 2016. The following year, he debuted as an actor in the series “School 2017.” He was continuously given minor roles in different shows until he starred in the fantasy drama “Extraordinary You (2019).”

He played the role of Haru, a mysterious boy who was supposed to be a background character in their web toon world. The way his visuals were highlighted in the drama and his steady acting earned him a solid fan base.

Favorable stage

He showed his versatility as an actor in the recently concluded drama “Tomorrow (2022).” If anything, being part of the series proved that he knows how to pick what shows to appear in. The series is one of the most well-written K-dramas of the year.

The timing for the Philippine fan meet couldn’t be any more perfect because he is at a very favorable stage in his career. Rowoon enjoys the support of Fantasy (SF9’s fandom), being its vocalist, visual and center, but he also won over the K-drama fans. That’s how the arena was divided. Half of the crowd likes him because of the shows he starred in, while the other half supports his music as well.

He’s been in the country at least twice before for SF9’s activities. On both occasions, we know that he ate and loved lechon. Filipino foodHe said so during the Filipino food segment of his fan meet. Rowoon ate turon, puto bumbong and taho for the first time. He came prepared for the segment because he arrived at the venue without having any dinner. Rowoon looked like he enjoyed every bite he took and he was delighted or polite enough to have second and third servings of the merienda set before him.

Photo by Bunny Javier

He raised his hands and started dancing like he was in a club when he heard that you eat puto bumbong at Christmastime, after Simbang Gabi. “Like at a party?” he asked in English. This made the audience laugh and it was explained to him by host Kring Kim that you have this after a Mass. He apologized and rubbed his hands together to show sincerity.

Lovin’ taho

“This tastes like cheese,” he said when he took a bite of the puto bumbong. He laughed when he was told that maybe because he ate more of the toppings than the actual delicacy. It is comparable to tteokbokki, he said.

When he sliced a turon and took a bite, he suggested when to eat it. “You know this will really be a good meal if you had it after your exercise. It’s not that sweet,” he said.

But the taho was the clear winner of the night. It was Rowoon’s pick from the get-go because he was most curious about it. Taho reminded him of sundubu, or silken tofu often used in jiggae or stew.“So good!” he said after having a mouthful. “I want to take this to Korea!”

‘Sipa’ vs ‘jegichagi’His determination was tested when he was presented to play with a traditional sipa. The jegichagi, Korea’s version of sipa, was also presented to him so he could compare them properly. He concluded that the sipa would be harder to play because it is lighter than jegichagi.Rowoon did have a difficult time keeping the sipa in the air but he kept trying anyway. He raised one of his pant legs in the last two tries to help him play better. His fans said that this is typical Rowoon. He is not the type to give up just because he is having a hard time.

At the time when he had to memorize Filipino phrases, we noticed how he tapped his knees.

“Sa Globe Kmmunity kay ganda araw-araw,” he said triumphantly. He also greeted a lucky fan in Filiipino, “Maligayang kaarawan!”

Like a groom

A barong Tagalog was also brought in for him to try. He turned his back and shyly took off his shirt onstage, leaving only his white undershirt on. Imaginations were already running wild as he buttoned the Filipino formal wear. He looked like a groom and that’s what the fans latched on to. It didn’t escape our attention that a lot of girls were wearing white dresses that day.

“The weather is sweltering and this shirt feels refreshing on me. However, I think I have to wear an undershirt beneath it because it’s embarrassing without it,” he said. It was explained to him that an undershirt is really necessary.

StrengthsThat Rowoon gamely did all the challenges thrown at him was already appreciated. But his one-liners made him memorable.

When Kim commented how gorgeous he looked up close, he nodded his head. He raised his fist and proudly answered, “Yes! Yes, I am!”

However, he would reveal that he doesn’t like being called a face genius. It’s a title given to idols who have the most beautiful visuals in the industry. But he also knows his strengths. He said that his best features are his eyebrows.

“My makeup artist said that I have a straight eyebrow, that’s why it’s pretty. I don’t use eyebrow makeup,” he said. He proceeded to trace his eyebrows several times.

Accept obstacles

Marcelino is his Catholic name. This is why he laughed and waved when someone from the audience shouted, “Mar-ce-li-no!”

There were letters from fans that he read out loud and he gave advice to them. This is where he said that he likes to accept hardships and struggles.

“Stress does not go away easily, so just accept it. When you learn how to accept it, that’s when you can fight it,” he said.

He ended the fan meet by singing “No Goodbye in Love” an original soundtrack for the drama “The King’s Affection.”

Getting the tickets for the event was a matter of luck. Globe Kmmunity raffled them off to their subscribers. Those who wanted it only had to avail of any deals they like which they could use for their existing plans. The ticket is for free, if you think about it. Rowoon, on his end, could just stand onstage and give nothing and he’d still be loved.

But he didn’t do that. He flew in clearly intending to give his fans a very good show. One that they will remember for a very long time. This is why he’s able to retain the fans he gained because of his good looks. Rowoon is willing to put in the necessary work needed.

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