Pro-tip: never watch an episode of a K-Drama when you are scheduled to interview one of its main stars a few hours later. Doing so may lead to unnecessary giggling and an inability to speak in straight sentences.
I know this because that’s exactly what happened to me. And yes, this may come off as a humble brag, but when you meet someone as charming as Jung Hae In, it’s hard not to let the whole barangay know.
The actor was in town last weekend for his “Smile” fanmeeting in Manila organized by CDM Entertainment, and he had everyone and their titas falling for his baby-faced looks and exceptional charm. Seriously — all the guy had to do was blink for us to go “awww”.
All this fanfare was warranted though, as his role in Something in the Rain, a.k.a. Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food — a.k.a. the drama I was watching before the interview — has him well on his way to Korean superstardom (spot his face on airport buses, subway ads, and coffee cups in South Korea).
It sure helps that the reach has extended worldwide thanks to Netflix. “It’s like a dream come true. The fact that it will also be shown in other countries to people around the world — that’s interesting and I am very excited about it.,” says Hae In.
In the drama, the actor plays Seo Jun Hui, the younger love interest of Son Ye Jin’s Yoon Jin-ah. The series follows the love story of Jin-ah and Jun Hui (who happens to be the younger brother of her best friend. Yup, it gets complicated). It’s a slow burn-type drama that could take some getting used to, but it’ll be worth it once you get used to the pacing.
Enough of the fluff — here’s what you really clicked on this article for: all you need to know is that IRL, Hae In acts similar to Jun Hui. Or at least that’s what we concluded in the 10 minutes that we got to interact with him. With his modest laugh and joking tone, he’s the kind of guy I’d treat to a meal and bring home to meet my family. *reaches into pocket and pulls out finger hearts*
Other proof: when our photographer asked him to stretch a bit, he said “stretch?” with a little laugh before management told him he couldn’t do the pose. In between takes, he chuckled a bit, saying that he was shy and that he wasn’t sure how to position himself.
What struck me the most, though, was how genuinely nice he was. When another editor gave him a local magazine with his face on the cover, he lit up and started showing it to his staff. Interviews like these are always rushed affairs, but he made sure to come up to us to bow and say kamsahamnida before exiting the room.
During the game portion of the next day’s fan meet, he was impressed by how the fans kept beating him — first in the arcade basketball game (both participants turned out to be on their school’s varsity teams) and next during giant Jenga (not scripted at all — he was the one who toppled the tower)
True to the spirit of Something in the Rain, Hae In’s appeal brings out the fangirls in us all, noonas (how Korean men refer to older women, similar to how we say ate or tita) included. The squeals were loudest when he sang his opening number, and when he read out his letter thanking all the fans for their support (his last line, “Thank you so much for sending unconditional love and support for me who is not good enough yet.” killed me, thank you very much).
After the event, we bumped in to a number of proud noonas, like best friends Mia dela Cruz and Anna Galang, who are well into their forties. They were both holding tons of Hae In merch and wearing shirts that said “Noonas unite,” which they had made when they watched Song Joong Ki’s Battleship Island in the cinema. Though they’ve been K-Drama fans since 2004, this was their first fanmeet experience, and boy was it memorable.
We also caught some other noonas joining in on the post-fanmeet screaming — Sheryl Hernandez and Maricon Andrada watched with their friends, telling me that they love Hae In because “he’s a very humble artist and a great actor” before aggressively going on about how cute he was in Goblin and While You Were Sleeping.
Riding on the momentum of the fanmeeting, I continued my Something In the Rain binge with two times the kilig. I plan to start While You Were Sleeping after, and maybe even re-watch all his scenes in Goblin. The Jung Hae In high has yet to fade away, and I’m already waiting for what he’ll be doing next.