Charmed by an alien

My Love From The Star lead Kim Soo Hyun serenaded and pleased fans with jokes

Kim Soo Hyun signing the ticket stubs of three fan meetings that Chinese fan Cora Ke (left) had attended. -- PHOTO: NEW EMPIRE MEDIA & KEYEAST ENTERTAINMENT
Kim Soo Hyun signing the ticket stubs of three fan meetings that Chinese fan Cora Ke (left) had attended. -- PHOTO: NEW EMPIRE MEDIA & KEYEAST ENTERTAINMENT

He joked about packing carrying 30 pieces of underwear in his luggage while filming overseas.

He created fake captions for photographs shown to his supporters at his fan meet, then cheekily apologised for lying.

He cried at the end when it was all over.

To the neutral observer of South Korean actor Kim Soo Hyun's first fan meet held here on Sunday night, he gave the impression of being entirely spontaneous - unlike many of his compatriots too well schooled in PR.

If nothing else, the actor whose popularity in the region rose phenomenally on the back of the hit drama My Love From The Star gave his fans - especially the handful who travelled across the continent - their money's worth of His Playful Kim Soo Hyun-ness.

When one lucky fan was picked to get her wish granted by him, her request was to get him to sign the ticket stubs to all three fan meetings she had attended in Guangzhou, Bangkok and Singapore.

Ardent Chinese fan Cora Ke, 27, a manager who was seated in the first few rows at the fan meet, said later: "I was so nervous when I went on stage. I think he's really cute and sincere. Next, I want to go to his fan meet in Japan."

Fervent international fans unable to resist the draw of the K-pop star of the moment have followed him across Asia for his fan meetings as part of his 2014 Kim Soo Hyun Asia Tour 1st Memories.

The tour kick-started in Seoul, South Korea, last month and includes stopovers in Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Yokohama, Singapore, Bangkok and Jakarta.

Tickets for the Singapore fan meet went on sale in March. The top two categories of tickets, which cost $238 and $188, sold out within hours of their release.

Among the 2,800-strong crowd at the fan meeting held at the Singapore Expo on Sunday night were excitable fans chatting in Thai and groups of girls speaking in such crisp Chinese, they had to be from China.

The boyish Kim, 26, has garnered legions of fans after starring in this year's hit drama My Love From The Star as a 400-year-old alien professor Do Min Joon. The series ended last month in Singapore.

One newly minted fan is Thai national Wandee Chaisiwamongkhol, who flew in from Bangkok last Saturday as she could not get enough of the actor despite having attended his sold-out fan meeting in her hometown last month.

The 30-year-old Chinese teacher, who paid 5,000 baht (S$194) and $138 for the Thailand and Singapore fan meet tickets respectively, said: "I wanted to see Kim Soo Hyun again so that's why I came to Singapore. I don't really watch Korean dramas, but my friend recommended that I watch My Love From The Star. That's where I got to know Kim Soo Hyun and his great acting."

The fervour for the romantic comedy My Love From The Star is immense in China, and had left fans clamouring to get tickets for the sold-out fan meets in the country.

Thai fan Prisana Utthachat, 37, who bought $138 tickets for the Singapore fan meet, forked out inflated prices on the black market for the fan meets in Beijing and Shanghai.

For instance, she paid 1,200 yuan (S$240) for a 480 yuan ticket, more than double the original price.

"It's worth it because I can see him. I really like him. When he smiles he's so charming," said Ms Utthachat, a PhD student at Zhejiang University.

The fans did not say it, but they must have been relieved to encounter a playful, crowd-pleasing Kim, with his jokey manner and a permanent smile plastered on his face - for he had cancelled the press conference in Singapore out of respect for the Sewol ferry sinking tragedy and was also reported to appear glum in Hong Kong.

He sat down to chat with fans about his past works, including the dramas Dream High (2011) and Moon Embracing The Sun (2012) and the movies Secretly, Greatly (2013) and The Thieves (2012).

He serenaded fans with ballads and posed for photos with lucky fans picked randomly to go on stage.

In fact, it was the dapper-suited Kim who urged fans to lighten up at the start of the two-hour fan meet.

He said: "I feel like I'm in a school seeing you guys sitting there, with your expressions looking a little too serious. You look like I'm going to teach you something. I don't want it to be so serious."

Still, the gleeful atmosphere that the spontaneous Kim encouraged at the fan meet could not stop fans in the audience from tearing up upon seeing their idol in the flesh.

Nanyang Polytechnic student Nurul Atikah, 17, and her schoolmate were spotted with tears in their eyes as they were making their way out of the hall.

Ms Nurul, who paid $238 for a top-tier ticket, said: "I didn't expect him to be so sincere and nice in person. He even took the initiative to pick more fans to go on stage to present them with gifts. When he started crying on stage, I couldn't help but cry along with him."

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