The night we listened to K-drama by the PPO

KCC, NCCA, CCP joined hands for a night of well-loved OSTs

Korean singer Gaho, who sang the OST of 'Itaewon Class', performs the song against 'Itaewon Class' video backdrop. (Photo from KCC)

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Maestro Heminigildo Ranera (Photo from KCC)

A country that has been binge-watching it for years now listened to K-drama, for a change, with no less than the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra performing the famous OSTs, conducted by Maestro Herminigildo Ranera.

The Metropolitan Theater Manila was filled with K-drama lovers and concert-goers for OST Symphony K-drama in Concert held June 29, 2024, a Saturday whose urban traffic apparently didn’t daunt the K-drama fanbase from making the commute to the national landmark in Arroceros right in the heart of Manila.

“I would go to the Met if only to hear Goblin,” said one fan of this iconic drama series starring Gong Yoo. Well, she did, after some wait, for Goblin’s I Will Go to You Like the First Snow wasn’t performed—until the encore. And to be able to relive that moment of the promise between the “Guardian: the Lonely and Great God” and the precocious student was well worth the wait. But that is getting ahead of the story.

Korean ambassador to the Philippines Lee Sang Hwa gives opening remarks. (Photo from KCC)

The OST (original sound track) concert was an ingenious idea born when Korean ambassador to the Philippines Lee Sang Hwa watched the recent PPO performance at the Metropolitan Theater with Cecile Licad. Since the audience of K-drama has been growing by leaps and bounds in the Philippines, like elsewhere, in the past two decades, peaking during the pandemic, a K-drama OST concert performed by, in the envoy’s words, “the venerable Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra,” was a matter of course.

The concert was part of the continuing celebration marking the 75th year anniversary of friendship between the Philippines and Korea. “Korean drama has woven itself into the fabric of Filipino culture, offering solace and entertainment, especially during the challenging times of the pandemic,” Ambassador Lee Sang Hwa said in his message.

PPO onstage at the historic Metropolitan Theater (Photo from KCC)

The concert was staged by the Korean Cultural Center (KCC) in partnership with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

For the concert, leading Korean violinist Kim Mijung joined the PPO as concertmaster.

NCCA chairperson Victorino Manalo said in his message, “Since 1949, the bonds of friendship between our two countries have grown, fortified by our common history of defending our waters against possible foreign invaders. Today we share a common love for the performing arts, finding in music and drama an opportunity to showcase the most important facets of our diverse cultures.”

To make the concert experience more engaging, scenes from the drama series were run onstage as the PPO played the OST, enabling the audience to recreate the drama in their minds. The concert opened with My Destiny, the OST of My Love from the Star. As the face of Kim Soo Hyun—arguably today’s hottest Korean star in the Philippines, as proved by his sold-out recent fan meet coming right after the success of Queen of Tears—appeared onscreen, a collective swoon was palpable. It was his scene with Jun Ji Hyun, Korea’s darling with timeless appeal.

This was followed by You Are My Everything from Descendants of the Sun, playing against the backdrop of that famous tarmac scene.

Then came A Song for My Brother from Crash Landing on You, the series that introduced many Filipinos to K-drama.

What followed was Mr. Sunshine from the classic Mr. Sunshine.

Also in the repertoire were OSTs from The World of the Married, White Tower, Squid Game, Hwang Jin Yi, Jewel in the Palace (still the favorite of many K-drama long-time followers). For the growing K-drama fanbase, a big swoon was the Love in The Moonlight repertoire (that included Because I Miss You and Raon’s Song) which brought to the screen anew the chemistry of Park BoGum and Kim Yoo Jung; King the Land, Start Up, and the top rated Itaewon Class.

Gaho with Julie Anne San Jose and Zephanie Dimaranan (Photo from KCC)

Korean singer Gaho, who sang the OST of Itaewon Class for the series, performed live at the Metropolitan and worked the audience easily. His presence in Manila came as a feel-good surprise for fans.

Other performers were Julie Anne San Jose and Zephanie Dimaranan.

Korean ambassador to the Philippines Lee Sang Hwa (center) with  CCP president Kaye Tinga and NCCA deputy executive director for operations Bernan Joseph Corpuz

Going up onstage was CCP president Kaye Tinga, who made time for the concert. She said in her remarks, “Tonight’s concert illustrates the cultural tapestries of the two nations, intertwined with shared past and made prominent with mutual affectations for each other’s heritage. Celebrating the 75 years of diplomatic ties, the concert transcends borders, weaving tales of human experience through symphonic melodies. More than a mere spectacle, the concert serves as a profound dialogue showcasing the richness of the nations’ culture, language and arts.”

Korean violinist Kim Mijung joins the PPO as concertmaster for the June 29 performance. (Photo from KCC)

The PPO performing ‘OST Symphony K-drama in Concert’

Actually, an OST K-drama concert was a perfect chill.

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