Son Ye Jin recalls Philippines trip, promises to return
Son Ye Jin has expressed both surprise and happiness over having a strong fan base in the Philippines.
STAR/ File

Son Ye Jin recalls Philippines trip, promises to return

Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - July 21, 2021 - 12:00am

South Korean superstar Son Ye Jin has expressed both surprise and happiness over having a strong fan base in the Philippines.

“Honestly, I didn’t know how huge I was but I would get a lot of pictures and messages from fans. I’m actually very surprised but also very happy that I am so well-loved in the Philippines,” said Son Ye Jin during the recent Smart Hallyu Hangout, her first virtual meet and greet with her Filipino followers.

Ye Jin isn’t a stranger to the country as she once vacationed in Palawan with her family. “The most memorable thing about that trip was just the friendly faces of the Filipinos. I could see that everyone was very happy, very friendly, and there was an innocence about them,” she said. “I would really love to go to Boracay.”

The actress “crash-landed” into Filipino fans’ hearts via the cross-border romantic-comedy series Crash Landing On You (CLOY), where she played  South Korean heiress Se Ri who found love in the North Korean army captain Ri, portrayed by Hyun Bin. Not long after the hit show ended its run in February 2020, Smart signed up Ye Jin as international brand ambassador after Hyun Bin. The reel-to-real K-drama power couple subsequently did separate commercials in 2020, followed by a two-part TVC early this year that reunited them on screen.

Part of the contract is a visit to the Philippines. The fan meet last July 16 was the telecom giant’s delivered promise to fans after it still couldn’t bring its endorsers here due to the pandemic. Lasting for roughly two hours, it featured games with the fans, a performance from Ben&Ben, and a three-part Q&A with Ye Jin.

“As we continue to bring our subscribers closer to their passions through simple and easy ways using our fast and reliable network, we are launching the Smart Hallyu Hangouts series with Son Ye Jin in the first virtual show to give fans the best experience despite the limitations of the pandemic,” said Jane J. Basas, SVP and head of Consumer Wireless Business at Smart, in a media statement.

Favorite things

The virtual hang-out had Ye Jin listening to what fans loved about her as an artist. “I’ll never get sick of hearing them. I want to hear more (laughs),” she mused when asked if she ever gets tired of hearing such comments.

She also entertained questions about her favorite things, including exercise (pilates, golf and “I also really like to walk my dog”), activity (“Eating something that I really love, like sweet and sour pork”) and fashion staples (“I’m really more casual in real life. I like to keep it feminine. I like dresses, but I also like wearing T-shirts and shorts. My favorite outfit is actually a white shirt and jeans”).

As for her favorite aspect of herself, Ye Jin said: “I think I like it best when I can make someone laugh. There’s something about being able to do that to another person that makes me happy. I’m also normally very naughty and playful, and I also like to laugh at myself.”

Since acting isn’t just a job but also her favorite form of self-expression, she assured fans she’ll continue to be active in the next five to 10 years. But no, she won’t claim to be the “best actress” in South Korea. “No... A little... Yes, maybe (laughs),” she joked.

Surprisingly, even if she’s been acting since 1999, she still feels “embarrassed and awkward” whenever she sees herself on screen that she’d “immediately flip the channel.”

It’s also not her favorite thing to “google” her name, except when she has a new project out and wants to know what’s being written about it. “When I’m resting like I am now, I would sometimes go for an entire week without checking online. When I’m resting, I’m really resting, I’m committed to that.”

Throwback to CLOY

Ye Jin recalled how right after wrapping up her last TV drama CLOY, the pandemic was just starting. “We didn’t really realize how serious it was at the beginning. So ever since, we went into full pandemic mode,” she shared, adding that she has been staying put and limiting her trips outside the home.

“This is a very sad situation, the whole world is experiencing this right now, and everyone is going through a difficult time. So I’ve kind of been doing the same thing as everyone else.”

Nevertheless, CLOY became an obsession for Filipino K-drama fans over the pandemic, bringing light and enjoyment amid the tough times.

Ye Jin enjoyed the script the first time she read it. “But I also felt a lot of pressure because I wasn’t sure if I could bring the script to life and do it justice. The writer of CLOY actually wrote for a comedy show as well, so the timing was very crucial. But I had a great time acting this out and I’m very happy that I did this project.”

A funny revelation during the fan meet: The CLOY drinking scenes were “real.” Remember the part where a tipsy Se Ri was starting to open her heart to Capt. Ri while watching snow fall? “Yes, (it was) real beer and soju. I drink them all! I think it actually helps me when I need to do these drunk scenes because in real life, I don’t drink very well. So, I’ll have one drink and I’ll get red, and the audience would see this and think, oh she actually is drunk!”

Asked how well-versed she is in English and Chinese, as seen in CLOY, she admitted, “I don’t actually speak them but I practice very hard to get the pronunciation correct. I’ve been trying to learn English for 15 years now because as a celebrity, I need to travel outside of the country sometimes and speak English.

“But then once I start working on a project and I don’t get to use the language anymore, I’ll forget. I feel like for 15 years, I’ve kind of been in the same spot. But for this Smart commercial, I really wanted to get it right so I practiced very hard and made sure that I did the English dubbing myself.”

Queen of Melodrama

In case you don’t know it, Ye Jin is called South Korea’s “Queen of Melodrama.” Videos of her most emotionally-charged scenes through the years were shown at the fan meet. If there’s an award for “best in crying,” she deserves one. “I really attribute this to perhaps a deep sense of empathy for the character. When I see someone who is sad, I also feel sad... Maybe I also have a multiple personality because I’m naturally very playful and happy, but there’s this other side of me where I am maybe also sorrowful (laughs).”

Her career has been described as diverse and adventurous, not to mention worthy of its recognitions, from Rookie of the Year to Best Actress. “First of all, there have been a lot of people who helped me in my career to achieve what I have. I’m looking forward to trying out even more genres and taking on many diverse roles.

“From my 20s to my 30s to my 40s, obviously there have been transitions. So, I’m excited and looking forward to what kind of roles I can play in the future. Roles that can hopefully move your heart.”

She also wishes something like Renee Zellweger’s role in the film Judy because “I saw how the character’s experiences, her life and all of those things were kind of acted out in her face. I want to get to a point when as I age, my wrinkles can show how my experiences have been like and use those things to express a character.”

Next month, the 39-year-old actress starts filming for Thirty, Nine, a drama about “39-year-old women, and the love and friendship between them. It’s going to be a very down-to-earth story but one that also has depth and humor as well.”

Behind the scenes

As an admirer of Ye Jin’s acting since her 2005 infidelity-themed film April Snow, a highlight of the fan meet was when two lucky fans — Rosell Rasos and Janina San Gabriel — got to interact with the actress via Zoom. It was a short but sweet moment where they thanked Ye Jin for inspiring them through her work.

Wilbros Live’s Glenn Llamas, commercial agent of Smart for Ye Jin, Hyun Bin and Park Seo Jun, was in Korea for the event and witnessed the actress’ reactions up close. “She was very happy to meet her Filipino fans virtually and very thankful to Smart for making this happen. I think she was holding back her tears but she was super touched by all the messages and the one-on-one call with the fans.”

Llamas said it was Ye Jin who insisted on giving personal belongings as gifts to fans. “So, the prizes for the lucky draw and one-on-one call winners, she was really the one who prepared and chose them. For the one-on-one call winners, one got her personal Gentle Monster shades and the other got a necklace she kept for more than 10 years.”

He added, “She mentioned she has been to the Philippines a long time ago. She wants to go back again and take some time on the beach when she visits the Philippines soon for Smart.”

Ye Jin herself promised that when she can, she’ll “absolutely go” and meet her Pinoy fans.

“Our language and culture are different but despite this, I can feel all the love. It’s almost like I don’t know if I deserve this overwhelming love. I am thankful, moved and motivated because when I hear how I’ve helped get you through difficult times, it makes me want to work on the next project.

“Acting can be very hard, it’s not an easy job although I enjoy it very much. But when I hear things like these from fans, I want to put out more good work which will please them. I’m very happy that I’m able to do that for all of you.”

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