SINGAPORE - Singapore holds special meaning for Hong Kong-born K-pop star Jackson Wang.
At a doorstop interview with local media before hosting a sold-out party at nightclub Marquee in the early hours of Sunday morning (Aug 7), the former champion fencer even showed off his tattoo of the Youth Olympic Games logo on his left bicep.
A member of the South Korean boy band GOT7, Wang participated in the inaugural Games hosted by Singapore in 2010.
His father Wang Ruiji is an Asian Games gold medalist in fencing, while his mother Sophia Chow was a gymnast. In 2011, Wang was offered a sports scholarship from Stanford University in America for his fencing abilities, but eventually turned it down and quit training for the London Olympics to pursue life as a K-pop trainee in Seoul.
"Singapore is meaningful to me because it was where I did (the) first Youth Olympic Games," the 28-year-old Chinese star says, toggling between English and Mandarin effortlessly.
"Singapore, I love you all very much and I wish you a super happy birthday," he adds, referring to National Day on Aug 9.
Wang is in town until Wednesday (Aug 10) to film a series of travel vlogs as part of a partnership with the Singapore Tourism Board to front the SingapoReimagine global marketing campaign.
When The Straits Times arrived at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) at 9.15pm, there were rows packed with hundreds of eager fans around the mall's parapets, where viewing areas were set up, on both basement one and the first floor.
Wang, who strolled up a black carpet at about 1am in an all-black ensemble topped off with black shades, says: "I worry a lot because there are a lot of people waiting here, but I'm happy because they've been welcoming me ever since I landed at the airport in Singapore (on Aug 2). I really appreciate it."
Speaking about his forthcoming solo album Magic Man, he says the release is important to him as it is his first physical album. "We might be looking into a tour, but we don't know yet. Perhaps if my audience wants me to, because you don't want to have a tour with nobody coming," he teases.
Wang then entered Marquee after waving to the waiting fans.
Most tickets to the event - priced at $60 for women and $80 for men - were sold out online when the gig was announced on July 28, but a long queue to grab limited tickets at the door, including expedited entry tickets for $200, still snaked outside of the mall.
At the front of the queue was a university student who wanted to be known only as Mr Tee. He arrived there at 4am on Saturday morning.
The 22-year-old says: "I brought a lot of bread and mineral water with me. I actually didn't know where would be a good place to queue because the signs for the queue weren't set up until around 7 or 8pm, so I was just walking around and waiting in the area."
He has been a fan of Wang since 2016, through the idol's activities with GOT7 and numerous variety appearances in South Korea and China.
Mr Tee took turns with his friends to buy takeout food for lunch and dinner while waiting in line. He adds: "I know he's just curating the event and he's not performing, but I just want to see him."
A few slots behind Mr Tee in the queue was Ms Kowie Tan, 30, who arrived at MBS at around 8am on Saturday morning.
The interior designer, who has followed Wang since his solo release Papillon in 2017, says: "I didn't really eat, although I did get a small break for lunch, because I didn't dare to leave the area in case I lost my spot in the queue."
Despite the late hours, Wang was in high spirits throughout the two-hour set, introducing and taking videos of the performers he curated for the event - beatboxer Dharni Ng, singers Laurie and Xenzu as well as music producer Boytoy.
The music played included his own solo songs such as Papillon (2017) and the recently released Blow, as well as tracks from other artistes such as American R&B group Blackstreet's 1996 hit No Diggity.
Wang was seen bobbing his head to the music, dancing, drinking and sometimes stretching out his hand to fans, who held their cameras up to catch a shot of him. He also splashed water into the crowd at one point.
As part of his promotional activities in Singapore, Wang also opened a concept space for his streetwear label Team Wang Design at the hotel Voco Orchard. The store stocks the label's latest selection of summer beachwear and will be open until the end of August.
Fans who missed him at Marquee or Voco Orchard need not despair.
When asked if he would return to Singapore soon, Wang cheekily showed off some Singlish, saying: "Promise lah."