Thank God for stress unrelated to illness or death, and arising only—only—from bad internet connection.
“This site can’t be reached…” popping up on your screen an hour before a fan meet, was enough to drive you batty, as it did many others in our chat group. Nerves attacked—even as you thought you were already tech-savvy after having watched online concerts in this pandemic, thanks to a BTS diet of livestreaming in 2020 via Weverse and Kiswe. This was our first time to try another livestreaming site, this time for Astro’s Cha Eun Woo’s online fan meet, which we registered for weeks earlier. (Escapist fangirling in this pandemic could be a crash course in technology.)
Days before the June 4 online meet, the chat group of Cha Eun Woo Philippines was astir with inquiries and anxiety from Aroha members who wanted to test their connection, access code and such. You have to give it to the “admin” of this fansite, who hand-held the members through the streaming site days, an hour, a few minutes before and even during the fan meet. Apparently Philippine fandom is easily among the most efficient, organized sectors in today’s society, that could give the government (national and LGU) a lesson or two.
In our case, we heed our own lesson: don’t fight with your millennial or GenZ sons before an online concert or fan meet; do it after. You need their help. Fortunately, my son knew exactly what to do when the “dead” site popped up 30 minutes before the fan meet. He knew it was the Philippine internet service in our neighborhood that was unable to access the foreign-based livestreaming site—so he used instead my phone’s cellular data to access the site and put it in sync with my laptop. Real cliffhanger. But the circuitous solution worked.
Our lesson: don’t fight with your millennial or GenZ sons before an online concert or fan meet; do it after. You need their help
Cha Eun Woo’s 2021 Just one 10Minute fan meet ran for two hours, and yet apparently could never be long enough for his global fans, from Korea to Thailand; his second-day fan meet was for China. In that online meet, Cha, 24, showed exactly why he has a strong hold on a growing global fandom even without being flashy, or perhaps it is precisely because his personality is not flashy; he’s mild-mannered, shy but honestly substantive in his replies. As he himself said in previous interview clips, he can hardly make people laugh because he’s not funny. (Who needs “funny” when you have such looks?)
In the fan meet, he answered questions in such a straightforward, no-nonsense style that you wondered whether this idol/actor ever played to the peanut gallery.
The lead of the K-Drama hits True Beauty and My ID is Gangnam Beauty is a multi-hyphenate actor/idol: an athlete, an A+ student in his school years, is into math and physics, a musician (plays various instruments), and conversant in English, Japanese, and Chinese, apart from his mother tongue. In the May 2021 Brand Reputation Ranking of K-Pop idols by the Korean Business Institute, he placed third, after BTS’ Jimin (first) and Kang Daniel (second). The rankings are based on data about consumer participation, media coverage, interaction, and community awareness indexes of nearly 1,500 idols. (K-Pop is a giant industry, a major revenue stream, obviously.)
It doesn’t hurt that he’s been called the “face genius” because of his good looks, with or without makeup (this generation really has an unfathomable way with words)— his fan meet title “one” must refer to the latest Astro chart-buster One, and “10Minute” alludes to the time-speed with which the onlooker gets mesmerized by that face.
After an opener song (Aloha), Cha answered questions from the MC. He was asked how he’s kept his stamina, given his hectic pace—on top of performances and music making with Astro, he has a weekly variety show (All the Butlers, now on its 100th+ episode, which he is leaving this June) and is filming the movie Decibel, where he plays a military man on an anti-terrorism mission. For the role, he now has a close-cropped ‘do—the latest, after switching his hair color from blondish to ash gray and now to black.
“I take a lot of vitamins, amino acid, and yogurt in the morning,” he said as a matter of fact. (English subtitles crawled across the screen as he spoke.)
Then he said he had chill time with his family when they went to Jeju island.
On his daily routine: ‘I want to feel the early morning vibe at sunrise, as people walk…’
Topics or key words were written on rolled pieces of paper that he picked out randomly. Christmas was written on one. He talked about Santa and wondered aloud if there were kids watching. He said that Santa brought memories of childhood, and he ended that with—no, he didn’t believe in Santa Claus!
On happiness, he said, “Happiness is not something without stress.” Then he explained how it could be a mix of emotions, how it was not a black or white.
On habit, or his daily routine, he said, “I want to feel the early morning vibe at sunrise, as people walk…”
If there’s a place he wants to travel to, it’s Hawaii. He added that though he and Astro have been to the US and Europe, these trips consisted mostly of airports, hotels, and performance sites.
His interests: films, songs—“I love listening to songs and going on long walks and enjoying the breeze.” He has also started to play golf. Fans are aware that he loves to compete in basketball (amateur meet, Handsome Tigers series), soccer, baseball and martial arts.
About his fellow members of Astro, he said he would have loved to have MJ’s “humor,” but didn’t cite examples because they weren’t “fit for broadcast.”
He’s a shy guy, he said, as if his fans didn’t already know.
He also played games, did math quiz, sang a cute Ottoke (from True Beauty), and—what his virtual audience must have awaited most—he sang Love So Fine from True Beauty.
Asked if he was into gaming, like everybody else is today, he said he was allowed only two hours on the computer—because his “mom is so strict.”
What you see is what you get—that’s Cha Eun Woo. Just get past the handsome face.