After I spent my birthday seeing G.O perform twice in one day, handing him a gift, “accompanying” him to his vehicle (yes, we are not going to call this following – we, his fans, were merely accompanying him to make sure he made it safely to his car – hehehe), and ultimately getting a warm, finger-threaded, palm-to-palm handshake good-bye, I wondered what my last day in Seoul would have in store for me. It seems that once I decided to be true to my fangirl heart and direct all of my energy to G.O, the gods of all things Byung Hee have allowed me many moments in his presence, enough now for him to recognize me. When your bias recognizes you, it elevates this fangirl thing to a whole new level.^^
When I was in Seoul this past April and found out G.O was cast in another musical (바람의나라 – The Kingdom of the Winds) that was set to open just as Seopyeonje would close, I knew that I wanted to come back to Seoul to see him perform once again. I admit I was not prepared for how spectacular Kingdom turned out to be. And even though I saw G.O completely ignite the stage in Seopyeonje, I realized after seeing him in Kingdom how, in his short musical career, accomplished he truly is as a musical actor. I plan to give the The Kingdom of the Winds its own post because there are so many wonderful things about it to share in addition to G.O’s beautifully nuanced, sweet and emotional performance.
Here now, I simply want to wrap up my stay in Seoul and my final moments with G.O.
Tales of A Failed Fangirl
I admit to being a pretty unsuccessful fangirl in that in all of my many G.O encounters from the past month to just last week, my attempts at getting pictures and/or videos have been weak at best. I suppose I should explain myself so that you can understand a little better as to why I don’t have much to show for my time with Byung Hee! I am not trying to make excuses, no. Nor am I in the least bit shy (although I do admit to being rendered pretty much speechless when I found myself face to face with him). I just…well, I just hesitate and for a couple of reasons – reasons that are probably complete nonsense – especially in the exciting world of a fangirl. But perhaps some of you will understand.
It is undisputed that G.O has perhaps some of the best fanservice in all of K-popdom. I have not had the opportunity to go to a fan meet/sign (yet) and my times with him have been very brief. But, what I will say for certain is that the moments I did have in his presence assured me that he appreciates each and every one of his fans and appreciates them sincerely and deeply. From the engaging and animated conversations I overheard him have with his Korean fans, to his genuine delight seeing a foreign face, I always felt his appreciation. I also think he just enjoys being around his fans (and perhaps women in general). ^^ He is comfortable, playful, and yet very respectful.
So why was I so hesitant? For one, I was usually the only foreign fan in the area, and I was almost always by myself. There is a bit of a code of ethics I follow when I am in Seoul and around hometown fans. I remain unobtrusive and quiet. I will make my move to greet him and get a handshake, but I have consistently stepped back and allowed others to have their moment. Part of that is just being courteous, I guess. But the funny thing is – I never thought to pull my camera out and either film or take pictures while others were enjoying their moment with him. Why…right??
Well I suppose I just don’t want to be a fan who has a camera in his face all the time, not that he minds – because he clearly doesn’t. Still, I felt intrusive even in those moments when I did grab the pictures I was able to get, blurry, back of the head, or otherwise.
But the real reason I have to say is simple. I was just enjoying the moments of merely seeing him interact with fans. He smiles…and often. He speaks – indeed, he’s engaging and friendly. He graciously accepts gifts and bows to his fans. I suppose I just enjoy watching him engage like he does with us. In looking back at those moments when I caught his eye and he saw me, or when I had the extreme pleasure of shaking his hand and he connected his memory with who I was, I am thankful I had my attention focused 100% on him and those moments. It was so much better than trying to keep his face and/or person in the frame of my camera! LOL!!! Making a connection with him eye-to-eye and not through the lens of a camera is, in my opinion, so very much more meaningful. Maybe I am just old-fashioned in that respect.
Those feelings aside, I encouraged myself to try to get video on that final day I was to be in Seoul. I was determined.
Last Date with Hodong, G.O and Seoul
Right before I was about to leave for Seoul on the front end of this trip, I decided that I should stay one more day and see two more shows. I figured since I was only going to be in Seoul for roughly 2 days, I should make the most of my time there and see as much of G.O as I possibly could. Fortunately on the weekends, there were two performances, a matinée at 3:00pm and an evening performance at 7:00pm.
I was in love with this musical. And, certainly smitten with Prince Hodong.
I have a habit of arriving early for things. I don’t like to be rushed so I always left really early to head out to the theatre so that I would have ample time to make my way there. With the Seoul subway, it can be a challenge when there are a gazillion people out and about. As efficient as it is, when there are a ton of people exiting and/or entering a train, it can take some time. I factor these things in when I navigate Seoul! I also had about a 10 minute walk from the subway station to the Seoul Arts Center.
I arrived a little past 1:3opm on Sunday, 18 May. It was to be my last full day in Seoul and my last two Kingdom performances. I was a mix of happy and sad. Happy because I was going to see two mores shows and the adorable Prince Hodong and sad because those were to be my last two performances, and I then had to leave Seoul the next morning. With all of that in mind, I was also preparing myself to try to get fancam video of G.O leaving the theatre that evening. I was pumping myself up, mentally encouraging myself, and checking my battery levels on everything.
The Seoul Arts Center is very patron friendly. There are so many areas of the compound where you can sit and relax indoors or out. The CJ Towol Theatre was no exception. It’s circular lobby had comfortable sitting areas all along the perimeter of the walls. Since I decided I wanted to top off all of the batteries of my various electronics: phone, portable modem, camera, etc., I started to search for an outlet to charge up.
Just to kind of give you some logistical information, in looking at the picture above this was the level the theatre was on. The right of this beautiful banner a table was set up where theatre staff were selling show programs and posters. That area was also where this was set up:
To the left there were various entry doors to the theatre and some seats along the wall. It was on this wall that I located an outlet to use for charging things up – it was directly opposite and on the other side of the floor from the program table. I took a seat and started pulling various charging cords out of my bag. It was approximately 1:50pm. Doors would open for seating at 2:30pm. I had some time to top off those batteries!
There were a few other patrons milling around, but not many. As I started to pull those cords out of my bag, I looked up briefly and saw two gentlemen coming from my right, walking slowly side-by-side. I did not pay much attention, I thought they were other patrons there to see the show.
When they got directly in front of me, however, it occurred to me that this could possibly be G.O and his driver. My mind said…NO WAY. NO WAY! NO WAY would he just walk through the theatre lobby like that. No way. Well….yes WAY. It was G.O. He was wearing a black t-shirt, his cropped grey sweat pants and gym shoes. Very comfortably casual, walking and talking with his driver.
All of the sudden I panicked as when I made the realization it was him, he was now passed me and heading for a stairwell doorway to enter the theatre. Eotteke???? I was missing THE BEST opportunity and I KNEW it!! I got up and started to walk swiftly to that stairwell. By the time I reached it, he was up the stairs and about to go through the door. But my hurried steps alerted him (more like scared him, I’m sure….LOL!).
How embarrassing. Really. He made it to the top of the stairs but before he entered the door, he stopped, turned around, bent down to look at who was chasing him…LOL!!! At that point, I had to bend down to look up into the stairwell to see him. I simply said ‘good luck’ and ever the gracious one, he waved to me and yelled…”Thank yooooou.” So sweet.
How can I be so lucky and unlucky at the same time???!!! Truly though, that he stopped and bent down to see what crazy person was hauling (more like chasing him) to see him was fortunate for me I guess. The best part of those moments (other than seeing him) were the women at the table selling programs. They knew. They knew he walked through there probably every matinee show (and maybe even the evening ones, too). They had the biggest smiles on their faces because they KNEW!!! They knew that I knew that that WAS G.O! LOL!!
After he was safely through the door, I looked over at them as I began walking back and they were all laughing and smiling at me. All I could do was shrug my shoulders and shake my head in disbelief.
Golden opportunity. Lost. Still, he did see me. He did realize I was a foreign fan because he did say ‘thank you’ in English. I was happy with that. But still….aieeesh!!
Defeated somewhat, I went back to my business of charging electronic devices. I had two 150 minute shows to get through after all!
Both of the shows were wonderful. This musical was beautifully produced and visually breathtaking. It had a spectacular cast and G.O was simply amazing.
I managed some shaky curtain call video. I am not very adept with the camera (obviously). <kekekeke>
The first clip is from the 3:00pm show. I was sitting up in the balcony for this performance. I decided to sit up there for one show just to experience a different view. It was a nice vantage point but I admit I rather be closer and preferred the main floor. (Clearly, I was spoiled by the three previous Kingdom shows and literally almost being on the stage with G.O for Seopyeonje).
The second clip is from the 7:00pm show. I was sitting on the main floor in the 11th row. It’s a little shaky after my camera makes contact with G.O – I just can’t seem to stay calm, right? But somehow he managed to look right into my camera for a moment before the curtain closed. Squeeeeeee!♥
So although not perfect, my road to videotaping G.O had begun. I was ready for more! Or so I thought.
Right Time, Wrong Place
Following the last show on Sunday, 18 May, I made my way to the stage door. I mean, that is where we saw him depart the night before. There were many fans waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Much to our disappointment, G.O did not exit from the stage door that evening. I am not sure, but my guess is he left from the same parking lot I saw him my first night. I usually would wait outside – but I chose to stay by the stage door in hopes of catching a glimpse, a video and yes…..a handshake. But luck was not on my side for my final evening in Seoul.
I cannot be sad, however, because out of my short visit, I saw 5 performances of Kingdom, got to stand directly behind G.O with my hand on his back while he waited to get in the car my first night there, was able to personally hand him a gift my second night there, and received two very nice handshakes from this wonderful young star who actually remembered me. Not bad for a relatively new fangirl. I know with practice I will get better. I cannot wait for G.O to do another musical because you can rest assured that no matter where, when and how, I will be there in the audience cheering him on! ^^
♥ ♥ ♥
[Image credit: as tagged/Michele DeMarco]