We were lucky that the discharge dates for Lee Min-ho and Ji Chang-wook were only two days apart.
Min-ho was discharged on April 25 while Chang-wook on April 27.
We share what we learned from waiting for them.
1. Do your research. Check reliable news portals, established fan sites and social media accounts for updates on the discharge date and venue.
Fan sites have countdowns to the day of their oppa’s discharge date. This will help in booking a flight to Korea.
2. Regularly visit their talent agency websites for clues. While they usually do not give exact discharge details, they will tell you what to expect on the discharge day.
Glorious Entertainment announced that there would be no event on the day of Chang-
It turned out that they prepared a surprise for the fans. The actor gave a full fan service right outside the military camp! He stood in the middle of a semicircle where everyone had a good view of him. He also had a mini press conference.
3. There is strength in numbers. Consult with other fans like you to double-check all the information you gathered.
Team Philippines was a buzzer beater for Chang-wook’s discharge. As we drove for two hours to Gangwon province, we were certain that Ji would be discharged at the same camp where he enlisted. Imagine our surprise when we arrived at a deserted parking lot.
Our rescue came in the form of another fan who was in the Philippines. She found someone who could give us a map to the venue. We arrived 15 minutes before Chang-wook stepped out of the camp’s gate.
4. Check-in to a hotel/AirBnB closest to the venue.
Around 250 fans gathered for both Min-ho and Chang-
wook. Arriving early means finding a good spot.
5. Prepare your complete fan gear. Charge your phones and power banks. Prepare your water bottle and snacks. Bring a foldable stool that you can get for 5,000 won (around P250) in Daiso. You can sit on it while waiting and stand on it so that you can get a good view. Check the weather forecast, too, so that you can prepare your OOTD, for your pictures and your comfort.
6. Prepare for every kind of situation.
We never expected to wait nine hours for Min-ho. We arrived at the Gangnam District Office at 9:30 a.m. without any breakfast because our flight arrived on the same day. At 2:30 p.m., his bodyguards advised us that he would leave the office at 6 p.m.
We were told that we could all go inside the parking lot facing the office where he worked before 6 p.m. We found ourselves running with the other fans to get to the parking lot where the media had already set up their cameras.
The Gangnam venue was small compared to the space Chang-wook’s fans enjoyed. Imagine all the pushing that took place! When he stepped out, Min-ho waved to his fans. He stopped behind his car to bow and wave again. A woman managed to give him a gift before he got inside his car and left. It took all of a minute and a half.
7. Place your gifts in a bag with strap. Straps make it easy for them to carry.
Prepare banners that will let them know from what country you came from. Team Philippines prepared dried mangoes, mango balls, and a JCWPH fans club cap. I placed it in a bag with “Manila, Philippines” written on it.
8. Behave. Don’t overstep the bounds.
GMA7’s Julie Ann Villacorta approached Chang-wook to give our gift but she kept considerable distance. The actor’s bodyguard followed her and gently held her left arm. It looked like he was pulling her back in the picture but she said she didn’t even notice the bodyguard was behind her. Chang-
wook reached out to receive the gift.
If fans are behaved, chances are the idols/actors will be more accommodating.
9. Travel with your friends who are just as crazy over your idol/actor to make it fun.
I went with fellow journalists Sandra Aguinaldo, Mariz and Raffy Tima, and Amihan Sabillo. It was the first we traveled for this kind of an adventure.
10. Enjoy the moment
Sure, you want to have the best photos and videos but allow yourself to have that moment when the world is only about you and him. Put down your phone or camera briefly and just look at him. Savor those precious seconds.