When popular South Korean actor So Ji Sub showed up at the Star Theatre last night, he did not just entertain Singapore fans. He would have seen fans from Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as familiar faces from Taiwan.
Taiwanese fan Sally Lai, 33, attended his fan meet in Taipei two months ago. But she could not get enough of her idol and flew in to catch him again, first at a public event at City Square Mall on Thursday night, followed by the fan meet.
Her excitement was palpable as she told Life!: "My colleague and I had to buy business class air tickets because the economy tickets were sold out. It's a rare chance to see him in person. Who knows if he will hold a fan meet next year."
Ms Lai, who works in finance, forked out NT22,000 (S$920) for her return flight and accommodation here, in addition to a top-tier $198 ticket to So's first Singapore fan meet.
"Since we were already buying an air ticket to fly here, we might as well get the best tickets to see So Ji Sub up close. The tickets for the Taipei fan meet sold out really quickly and we could get tickets for only the second night," she says.
The 36-year-old actor, whose breakout role was in the 2004 series I'm Sorry, I Love You had a successful start to the regional tour with two sold-out fan meets held in Taipei in June this year. All 3,000 tickets for the first night's fan meet in Taipei were snapped up within three hours.
To meet the overwhelming demand, a second show with 3,000 tickets was added.
The Asian tour includes stops in Bangkok, Kobe and Yokohama.
Ms Lai was among the more than 400 fans, including those from Indonesia and Malaysia, who waited eagerly for their idol to take the stage at City Square Mall on Thursday night, ahead of his fan meet yesterday.
Reporters were also invited to cover the Thursday event billed as a press conference, but were not allowed to ask questions. The question-and-answer session was conducted entirely by the emcee, radio station 100.3FM DJ Ah Ken.
So, who started his career as a model before turning to acting and singing, has enjoyed a surge in popularity as a result of the hit paranormal- themed romantic comedy drama, Master's Sun (2013). He took on the role of a haughty rich man with a love interest who can see ghosts played by actress Gong Hyo Jin.
Quantity surveyor Tan Huifen, 27, is enamoured of So's charms in the show. She says: "He's talented and handsome. I've seen the videos of his fan meet posted online and I'm looking forward to the interaction with fans at the fan meet. Hopefully I get picked to go on stage."
The actor- rapper may have gained new followers with the hit show, but there were also those among the crowd who were fans from his earlier days, such as Malaysian fan Ms Jackie Tee.
The sales manager, who is in her 40s, became a fan after watching him play a detective in the crime drama Ghost (2012) and came to Singapore just to see him. "He's the first idol that I like. He's really serious about his craft. He's even more charming in real life," adds Ms Tee, who had tickets to last night's fan meet.
So's appeal, it seems, cuts across generational boundaries.
Madam Wong Sook Fong went to City Square Mall to meet him - along with her 17-year-old daughter Jia Ai and her friends from polytechnic.
Madam Wong, a housewife in her 40s, says: "My daughter and I follow K-pop and K-drama together. We've gone to concerts such as SM Town and boyband Shinee's."
Jia Ai's friend Jacelyn Low, 17, chimes in: "Bonding over Korean pop and dramas is a good way for parents and their kids to communicate."
This article was first published on August 23, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.