Published on February 28th, 2013 | by deejaymich0
Kim Jong Kook Singapore Fan Meet: The softer side of the commander
Best known as ‘Sparta’ or ‘The Commander’ on popular variety show Running Man, Kim Jong Kook held his first ever Singapore fan meet at Kallang Theatre on February 22. It was his second time here – he dropped by after filming Running Man in Hong Kong the first time, and he left as much of an impression as our little country did on him. What more can I say? He brought his A-game, wit, humility and amazing voice on stage with him.
A typical fan meet has performances as well as games with fans and they usually alternate with each other in terms of programme order. However, for this fan meet, most of the performances came after the games. I greatly appreciated that as it allowed me to enjoy five consecutive songs without interruption.
The night started off with a mid-tempo ballad, ‘Today More Than Yesterday’ which revved up the audience consisting of mostly girls. Even though the audience knew he was going to be singing, his vocals still completely blew us all away. It’s not that I haven’t heard his songs prior to the fan meet, but seeing this big man hitting all those high notes live… that was definitely something.
Next up was a short interview and talk session where Jong Kook responded to the emcee, hardly needing the help of his translator. He made the effort to speak in fluent English, and bridged the gap between himself and his fans since they were able to communicate directly. Major plus points there! When asked what he liked about Singapore, he said that it was clean, and had a lot of… big trees.
The most memorable part of the interview was when the emcee taught Jong Kook some simple Singlish. When told about a word which he could use on fellow Running Man cast Kwangsoo, ‘sotong’, Jong Kook elicited laughs from the audience when he replied that it meant ‘the shit from a cow’ in Korean. He added that he’d still use it in Singapore even though it is pretty inappropriate in Korea.
The fan meet stretched from a planned 1.5 hour event to two hours, mainly because of the next segment – the games. While game segments tend to be a little boring (for those who are not participating directly, at least), Jong Kook managed to keep the audience entertained with his little remarks throughout.
The first game was the ‘flamingo game’ where contestants had to get Jong Kook out of a designated box in ten seconds while hopping on one leg. Jong Kook lamented that it was unfair because it was two against one but gamely let most of the pairs win on purpose. We all know how tough that must have been for him to lose!
The next game was tug-of-war, and the audience was in awe when an actual rope used for the game was brought out (it needed six staff members for it to be carried). As a pair of protective gloves was passed to him, he commented, “cuz I’m still human”. Hah! We still believe you’re more than that. He also requested to switch sides so his rear would not be facing the audience. Later during the same game, Jong Kook lamented, “What am I doing this for?” Oh Sparta, did you really think Singapore fans were going to let you come and leave without witnessing your much talked about prowess and physical strength for ourselves?
Those were the games – but that was not the end of the audience interaction. During the next segment, a few girls fitting the description of Jong Kook’s ‘ideal girl’ were picked to go up on stage and they had to prove to him and everyone else why they were the best for him. While most showed him their affection through words (one gave a disclaimer that she was engaged though), a couple of them sang, and there was even one girl who simply asked him to say hi to her friend.
During the final fan interaction segment, three lucky fans were selected to go on stage to square off to see who was the best by means of singing from a selected list of songs by Jong Kook. The contestants did their best but it was eventually a six-year-old boy who stole the hearts of the audience and the man himself by singing a couple of lines of ‘Men Are All Like That’ a cappella style.
After a short break, Jong Kook then came back on stage with his latest single, ‘Men Are All Like That’. Afterwards, he added that even though he wrote the song, he’s not like that, not all men are like that. Well, all we know is that this man knew the exact things to say to keep his audience entertained.
He then continued with a couple of ballads – ‘Don’t Be Good to Me’, ‘Saying I Love You’ (which featured Yoon Eun Hye in the music video). After which was a song that most of the audience were waiting to hear – ‘Lovable’. And lovable he was! He hardly needed to rouse the crowd and there they were – standing up and dancing and singing along. Finally, he ended off with his encore song, ‘One Man’.
Having been in the industry for more than ten years now, it’s heartening to know that even though Jong Kook is better known for his involvement in variety shows now, his passion for the stage still lives on. One could easily tell that Jong Kook was really enjoying himself that night, simply because he got to sing quite a fair bit (and got to meet his supportive fans). With such an amazing voice and charisma, we could not be more pleased that he decided to make a comeback into the music scene, and we’re even happier to know that he has not faltered one bit.
It was a great fan meet which had all the elements down – good organization, lots of fan service and most importantly, awesome performances from the man himself. Now, let’s just hope he remembers his promise to talk to his PD about bringing Running Man to Singapore!
We would like thank Mode Entertainment for organizing Running Man Sparta: Kim Jong Kook Singapore Fan Meet and extending the media invitation to Dinoseoul.
(Photo credits: Mode Entertainment)