Lee Min Ho: Soccer's loss is showbiz's gain

CONVERSATIONS - The Philippine Star

SEOUL — Was anything lost in translation?

I strongly suspected that there was because during this Conversation, Korean superstar Lee Min Ho was giving long answers in Korean and the lady interpreter was giving short ones. Or did she simply summarize what Lee was trying to say?

Anyway, beforehand the Manila journalists and I who were invited to cover the pictorial were cautioned not to ask Lee any personal question, so I’m warning you at the outset not to expect to read anything personal about Lee, not even what type of girls he is attracted to.

But of course, Lee’s fans know practically everything about him. For the sake of those who are clueless, I culled some data about Lee from the Internet, to wit:

Lee was born on June 22, 1987, and he has only one sibling (an older sister). His idol as a kid was Cristiano Ronaldo, the Brazilian football superstar, so Lee wanted to become a football player, a dream nipped in the bud when Lee was injured when he was in Grade 5. In his senior year in high school, Lee signed up with StarHaus Entertainment and auditioned for small roles in TV shows. In 2006, his budding showbiz career suffered a hitch when he was seriously injured in a car accident along with his childhood friend and fellow actor Jung Il Woo.

Fully recovered in 2009, Lee resumed his rudely-interrupted showbiz career. He was cast in Boys Over Flowers which was a hit all over Asia including the Philippines. It was based on the popular Japanese TV drama Hana Yori Dango. Last year, he was cast in City Hunter (which ABS-CBN is re-airing, now on a late-afternoon timeslot). He’s now busy at work on the new drama Faith which is set to start airing next month.

The Korean newspaper Joongang Daily reported that Lee’s followers online have exceeded the 10-million mark, according to StarHaus, with more than 54.4 million followers on Facebook, four million on the Chinese social site Weibo.com, 600,000 on Twitter and 230,000 on the Korean SNS Web site Me2Day. Most of the fans are Chinese. The numbers are multiplying by the hour.

On the day of the pictorial (June 22), Bench gave Lee a birthday cake topped with chocolates. He blushed as he blew the single candle while those around him sang Happy Birthday. (Note: Lee is wearing Bench. Those he’s wearing in the other pictures are not by Bench. Watch for Lee in more Bench clothes in a forthcoming pictorial.)

The day of the pictorial (last June 22) coincided with Lee’s 25th birthday, so Bench bought a beautiful cake for him. As Lee blew the single candle on it, he blushed a bit when those at the studio sang Happy Birthday and cheered him right on.

It’s the first time you are endorsing a Filipino product. You look very good in your Bench outfit.

“I love it! I’ve been wearing several samples throughout the pictorial today. I feel cool and comfortable in them. They are very casual, easy on the body. Now I know why Filipinos just love Bench.”

I’m sure that you are going to wear Bench in your shows.

“Yes, of course, I will. I love the cardigans that I wore during the pictorial. I hope Bench will give me the shirts that I wore during the pictorial, hehehehe!” (Note: Bench did, thank you!)

Will you tell your friends to wear Bench, too?

“Yes, I will. I will recommend to them all the styles, especially the darker colors. I prefer the darker ones.”

Have you always wanted to be an actor?

“As a kid, I wanted to be a soccer player. However, I suffered an injury when I was in Grade 5, so I forgot about becoming an athlete. When I turned 18, I changed my mind and wanted to be an actor.”

What kind of family did you come from? How many siblings do you have?

(Interpreter: He doesn’t like to answer personal questions. Sorry.)

How do you communicate with your fans? This morning, I saw a report in Joongang Daily that you have more than 10 million followers online.

“Because of social-networking, it has become easier for me to communicate with my fans overseas and my fan base has become bigger and bigger, not only in Korea but also in other countries including the Philippines.” (Note: The Joongang report quoted Lee’s agent as saying that his special appeal is due to the fact that he’s always trying to create novel ideas to communicate and engage with fans. “Lee is always asking his fans how they are, being honest about what’s on his mind,” said a spokesperson from StarHaus. Lee added, “The messages that my fans leave on my various social websites have been such an immense source of encouragement.”) 

You are so busy with your career. How do you spend your spare time?

“I’d rather stay home than go out. I like to stay indoors. I keep myself busy with my computer.”

You look so fit. How do you do it?

“I don’t observe a strict diet; there’s no limit in what I eat. I eat anything that I want. As far as sports is concerned, I love wrestling. I also love skiing. If my work schedule permits, I work out in the gym. And if I have longer free time, I go out and have fun with friends, but very seldom. As I’ve said, I spend my free time mostly at home.”

I suppose you have been to several cities. Which one is your favorite?

“Well, every time I find myself in another Asian country, I always feel that I’m home. I have visited China many times. Personally, I like Maldives and England.”

What about Manila? When are you going to Manila?

“I’m supposed to go to Manila in November. I haven’t been to Manila so I am excited about going there. Can you recommend what places that I should visit?”

There are several beaches in case you want to swim or to surf. We have huge shopping malls and bars. You have several choices.

“Thank you for that.”

If you were somebody else, who would you be and why?

With your Conversationalist during the interview in Seoul

“I haven’t really thought about it. But then, if I were to be born again, I’d still like to be myself. But I wonder, how is it like to be somebody else?”

What is it that your fans don’t know about you?

“I think they know a lot about me. By the way, I like playing online games with my fans.”

How do you see yourself 10 years from now?

“I’m not the typical person who plans ahead. I like to enjoy the moment, so I don’t think about what I will be 10 years from now. I live for the present.”

What do you like most about yourself?

“The positive part about my life is that I’m getting so much love from my fans, maybe more than what I deserve. I’m always grateful for that.”

And what don’t you like about yourself?

“The negative part? No, I can’t think of any right now. I want to look at the positive and ignore the negative.”

(E-mail reactions at [email protected].)


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