Face to face with Kim Soo Hyun: Filipinos have the ‘eyes of the angel’

We finally meet the Global Benchsetter, Korea's top actor —who's cool and humble

Kim Soo Hyun at Bench press conference: 'Sometimes I feel very brave that they (the fans) are with me, whenever they are with me.' (Photo by Nikko Dizon)

Ben Chan, the man behind Bench who pioneered in Philippine retail the collaboration with Korean stars and idols, with Global Benchsetter Kim Soo Hyun at the presscon (From @bcbench IG)

He’s one funny guy, Kim Soo Hyun. Yes, the Korean superstar. Yes, the good looking, absolutely wonderful actor who stole our hearts in many Korean dramas that we all watched until dawn and made every inch of our eye bags worth it.

Credit: Video from @bcbench IG

Kim, 34, is clothing giant Bench’s latest Global Benchsetter. He’s the first to visit Manila for an in-person fan meeting after the pandemic put the world at a standstill for over two years.

Kim was, in the true sense of the word, the perfect Global Benchsetter to ease us all back into the pre-pandemic life where Korean stars would visit their Filipino fans almost every month and fan meets were becoming a norm in Manila.

He’s a Hallyu god—one of Korea’s multi-awarded and highest paid actors and endorsers —yet at the press conference last Thursday, June 9, he put everyone at ease. The moment he walked on stage to greet everyone with a bashful wave and smile, you knew he’s one celebrity unaffected by fame.

Credit: Video from @bcbench IG

Kim’s excited to return to the country, his first time to work overseas since the pandemic. He was here five years ago. Recalling his warm welcome in the airport and how the people greeted him, he said that the Filipino people “have the eyes of the angel.” (I must say, Peninsula Manila’s Rigodon ballroom became a roomful of giddy Filipinos after Kim, the one with the angel face, said that.)

The night before, Kim’s fans gathered at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) to welcome him with their banners and excited cheers, unmindful of the late hour and the mugginess of the night.

“I keep on talking about the airport,” Kim said, chuckling as he realized he had mentioned the airport several times throughout the interview.

As he stepped out of the airport, he recalled through an interpreter, the hot air “embraced” him. “And when I saw the fans outside and their greetings, because of the heat and the (warmth) that the fans were able to give, I had to take off my jacket.”

He laughed, we laughed. Sam Oh, as always, the extraordinary host, laughed.

It’s hard to believe that before us was the same actor who can pierce our hearts as the Joseon King who looks at you with the saddest eyes, or as the North Korean spy who is crushed when he learns about his mother’s death and his country’s betrayal.

Credit: Video from @thelmasiosonsanjuan IG

Of course, he’s a versatile actor. He does comedy too.

My personal favorites are Moon Embracing the Sun because of its powerful storyline and My Love from the Star, which made me laugh so much, but also reminds each one of us to make the most of every moment we spend with our loved ones. I loved Moon Embracing the Sun so that for a time, I had its OST The One and Only on repeat on Spotify. Kim sang it. Yes, he’s also a great singer. What can this man not do?

After his hit 2020 drama It’s Okay Not to be Okay, Kim said he’s now reviewing “a lot of scripts.” Nothing is certain for now, but he promised everyone that he will do his best to give us “good news as soon as possible.”

Asked what kind of genre or role he wants to do next, after being in the industry for over a decade, Kim said he was open to doing the roles he has done or maybe even take the role of an antagonist.

“I want to try that role as well and other fans are also wanting me to try medical dramas. But it doesn’t mean we will do that but, of course, we are going to review it,” he said.

 Unknown to us, on his visit to the country five years ago, Kim went to Boracay and Cebu “for swimming.”

Kim Soo Hyun talks about enjoying Boracay, Cebu and Filipino ‘ihaw ihaw.’

“Of course, I like to swim every time. The Philippines is known for its beautiful beaches so I would like to go. I would also like to try food that is grilled,” Kim said, and he asked Sam Oh what the meat with Filipino-style grilling was. We all assumed it was “ihaw-ihaw.”

We all assumed as well that Kim was curious about “chicharon.”

“I remembered another dish, on the way from the airport to a town called Malate, there is a body of water and there’s little food stalls and there are these lightbulbs, and there’s pork skin,” Kim said, asking Sam Oh again what food it was that he was describing. Chicharon?

He likes our fruits—and Jollibee, particularly the meal set of burger, spaghetti and chicken.

In his free time, Kim is also trying to learn how to play golf—like bowling, which he loves, it needs mental concentration. He wants to go climbing, too. And recently, he’s been into biking. “I ride it dynamically,” he said. We laughed.

Asked what style tips he can give fans who want to dress more like him, Kim was practical: “From the airport, I was able to see the billboards of Bench. If you wear exactly the same as the billboards, you will look great.” Oo nga naman. We all laughed again.

But it’s easy to follow his personal style, truth be told. Kim said that he feels “very comfortable in casual clothes,” and he prefers to wear all black and dark colors. He put together his outfit for the press con, he said. A black Bench shirt and black Bench denim pants and jacket, paired with black sneakers.

Would his style be suitable for the weather in Manila? He laughed a bit—“If I say it like this, I might be a clothes designer already. But if I would choose, maybe the front would be casual, and at the back it could be a fishnet style.” Seems like Manila’s warm weather did make an impression on our guy.

Credit: Video from @bcbench IG

Kim said it was an honor to visit Manila finally since he’s been modeling for Bench for almost a year now.

“It is a great opportunity to be here and for as long as I know, the Bench brand is a very friendly and very popular brand and I also try my best to be a very friendly actor,” Kim said.

With Hallyu’s immense global popularity, Kim Soo Hyun said he feels the love of his fans from abroad. With all humility, he added: “I feel surprised, I could not believe it. Sometimes I feel very brave that they are with me, whenever they are with me.”

Credit: Video from @bcbench IG

About author


Nikko Dizon is a journalist in hiatus, specializing in security and political issues for two decades until the pandemic changed her life plans almost overnight. She now works in the fintech industry, happily discovering what an exciting world it is. But nothing will match her fascination with the Korean Wave in general and in particular, South Korean mega-group, BTS, and actor Ji Chang Wook.

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