Persona

It was Ji Chang Wook who drew Rico Hizon to K-drama

And it was Kim Seon Ho who taught him how to make finger hearts—the top broadcaster enters new stage in his career

Broadcaster Rico Hizon with Ji Chang Wook during the Korean star’s fan meet for Bench (Photo from Rico Hizon)

Hizon with Kim Seon Ho during the ‘Good Guy’s’ fan meet for Bench

Popular Korean actor Ji Chang Wook is responsible for making Rico Hizon “level up” in his consumption of K-drama. But that is getting ahead of the story.

Multi-awarded Filipino broadcaster Rico Hizon has posted on social media that he has already signed an agreement presumably to mark a new stage in his professional journey. Where he is going or which media group he is joining either here or abroad, he is not yet at liberty to say. So his following—and he has a huge one, after his long stints in CNBC, then BBC, and most recently in CNN Philippines—awaits eagerly.

From his early TV broadcasting years, Hizon has been synonymous with business news, and in BBC, with what is called the hard news. For many years, every morning, it was Hizon’s cheerful face and even more cheerful greeting that televiewers here and abroad woke up to. No matter the disaster the news of the day brought, his bubbly mien had a way of assuring the viewer that all would be right with the world.

In short, his style of broadcasting was an anti-thesis to conventional broadcasting.

When he came home from his long stint in Singapore, to settle down with his wife Melannie and son Migo, this broadcasting icon reconnected this time to his Filipino audience who awaited The Final Word every night on CNN Philippines.

Reaping journalism awards for The Final Word, like he did with his news shows in BBC, Hizon didn’t limit himself to hard news or political and business controversies. Instead, in a move that made the broader audiences sit up, he tackled not only Philippine showbiz, but also—K-pop and K-drama.

Hizon’s media friends and colleagues are aware that even in his early years as a broadcaster, this graduate of Liacom (Liberal Arts Commerce) at De la Salle University covered business but also dabbled in entertainment. TV news was his childhood dream—back at home from school, this grader would watch the TV news every day with his mom, and as early as then, he knew he wanted to be an on-cam reporter.

“I felt involved in the news,” he told us at a casual meet-up recently, “in what was happening beyond my home, in the events unfolding.”

The news stirred excitement. As a greenhorn, he applied with the iconic TV show of the ‘70s and ‘80s, The Uncle Bob Lucky 7 Club.

Throughout his years in journalism, he not only covered business, general news and politics, but also consumed entertainment, the distaff side. He was a follower of Ricky Lo’s column.

Therefore, developing an interest in K-pop and K-drama is really in Rico Hizon’s broadcasting DNA.

We asked exactly what drew him to K-pop and K-drama.

“I would once in a while watch K-pop groups such as BTS, Black Pink, and K-drama like Crash Landing On You,” he told us.

“But what brought me to the next level was when I interviewed my first Korean celebrity, Ji Chang Wook.  Thank you, Ben Chan. Chang Wook’s simple, reserved demeanor and down-to-earth personality made me an instant fan. He not only can act but also sing.

“From there I just started watching more Korean novelas and listening to K-pop groups. After Chang Wook (I watched his Backstreet Rookie and The Worst of Evil), I interviewed Kim Seon Ho (Hometown Cha Cha Cha and Start-Up), and Wu Hi Jan (Squid Game), two awesome guys as well, also simple and clean-looking gentlemen. I was totally impressed with the depth of their answers and their knowledge of Western films and music.”
After these, Hizon was on a roll. Almost every K-pop band visiting Manila guested on The Final Word.

Hizon with Enhypen

Hizon with NCT DoJaeJung

“Among the bands I spoke with face-to-face in Manila were the members of Enhypen, Treasure and NCT DJJ. The only girl group I had a chat with was Twice via zoom from Seoul. Though many of them couldn’t speak English, you could see their love and passion for their music. They all have likeable personalities. And when they are onstage, you are drawn to the group’s catchy melodies, polished choreography, grandiose live performances, and impeccably produced music videos.”
What endears Hizon to the audience is he’s so relatable; no story, no trivia, nothing, seems to be beneath him, unlike other so-called journalists who scoff at “soft” news.

He told us, “In these interviews that I learned how to do the Korean finger hearts and other gestures to make the heart shape. I was taught by Kim Seon Ho in my one-on-one interview with him. It’s really nakaka-aliw because the Korean stars have so many hand gestures to show love and appreciation to fans.

Hizon with Wi Ha Jun

“Korean management teams are very strict with time, when they say 10 minutes for the interview, it’s down to the second, no more, no less. You can only have official photos with the K-pop or K-drama stars, taken by the management team itself, you can’t use your smart phone.”
Based on these interviews and encounters, Hizon shared his insights about the global success of K-pop and K-drama: “Korean dramas are known for their compelling storytelling, well-developed characters, and emotional depth. Many viewers like myself find themselves deeply invested in the characters and their stories. If it’s a limited series, you would want to finish it in one sitting, marathon watch.
“Their stories are so captivating, that local networks have remade them, namely Descendants of the Sun, Full House, My Love from the Star, Only You, Lovers in Paris, My Girl, Flower of Evil, Start-Up, among others.”

He turns to K-pop: “You are drawn by their catchy melodies, polished choreography, grandiose live performances, and impeccably produced music videos. I’m always in awe of their costumes and production numbers. Each group has a certain style that makes it stand out. One thing, for sure, they never scrimp their budget.”

That’s the soft side to this broadcaster who has reaped awards and accolades here and abroad for his business and news coverage. No information is ever trivial to a curious audience. Hizon obviously knows this only too well. And he delivers the information with an infectious smile. Like a cool breeze on a hot Manila day. Can’t wait to see which network or platform Rico Hizon will pop up in.

About author

Articles

After devoting more than 30 years to daily newspaper editing (as Lifestyle editor) and a decade to magazine publishing (as editorial director and general manager), she now wants to focus on writing—she hopes.

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