Cri Lin, an eel from New Zealand, is well-known as one of the best fan-made JKS video creators (here is her YouTube channel page). This time she shows another her excellent skill, writing. Her lively writing invites us to her unforgettable exciting memories. Most of us have already had the chance to see these events from photos and fan-cam videos, but this time we can feel how it would be if we had been there actually, including the behind scenes. Enjoy reading her FA!
Credit: Cri Lin from ECI
Photo credits: Some taken by Cri Lin, Others shared on Twitter
I’ve never written a fan account before… and most of what had happen has been recorded/ broadcasted… so… this is more like a travel diary about PON! and SBS drama awards… I guess.
WARNING: this is long… very very long and in some parts incoherent ㅋㅋㅋ
So… where do I start?
I guess, it started back in October at Team H Yokohama… during the concert when Suk mentioned that he was having so much fun with Team H and didn’t want it to stop then soon followed it up by the announcement of additional show in December at Yoyogi… I quietly started to make travel arrangements. The stars aligned and mountains moved… I was able to have an extended period of time off… while booking my flight… I remembered that Suk also talked about wanting to spend more time with eels… maybe Christmas or New Year countdown… with no further details… I took it as a hint… thinking even if it turned out to be nothing… I’ll just follow the eel trail and go try the restaurants he’s dined in and visit places he’s been (of course some shopping on the side… that goes without saying ㅋㅋ ).
When Universal music Japan released the news that Suk was going to attend live broadcast on the TV show PON! on the 19th December, I was still in Japan, Tokyo nevertheless… it was rather short noticed as the news came out just the day before. I’ve never been to any live recording before so I started researching where the studio was, how to get there, what to expect etc… surprisingly little information can be found online (thinking back… probably should’ve searched in Japanese). However, I did manage to find the location of the studio… from previous experiences of lining up before and after the concerts, I knew I had to be early to get a good spot.
It was Monday morning, the subway starts at 5am… I thought I was really really early when I showed up at 5.30am, half thinking… what if no one is there, how do I know where to go… the shock I had when I saw the mass of people as soon as I stepped onto the complex… oh well… I was there for support and experience… actually where I was turned out to be a great spot, more on that later. Hours of waiting then ensue… The program starts at 10:30am, the attendees are said to arrive roughly around 10am. It was outdoors, everyone came with a little folding stool… from memory I think it was around 10*C. I was well insulated so did not feel the cold, but it was rather tiring to be in a half sitting/kneeling position without a seat (mental note to self… to buy a chair for next time).
Where I was was right at the bottom of the escalator and also facing some automatic glass doors leading to the elevator, I didn’t take a lot of pictures … picture below roughly demonstrates the geography…
The next couple of hours went by as I chatted with near by eels with the little Japanese I learnt a long time ago, exchanging souvenirs and also awkwardly trying change position to avoid my legs going numb.
Then came 10 o’clock. The party is starting to arrive, one by one, the crowd cheered as each person came down the escalator (I’m really sorry to their fans… but I didn’t know who they were except they were probably hosts of the show). When everyone is watching the top of the escalator with much anticipation, my eyes were wandering because I figured the crowd would cheer when Suk arrives. My eyes must’ve been wide open with surprise when I saw the glass doors open right in front of me… Suk, along with GSM, YD, stylist and Maki San walked out… waving slowly at the crowd as they made their way to the studio. While they were filming, only the people who were on the bridge might have a few glimpses of what’s going on inside, but it was okay, the eels next to us brought out a tablet and streamed the program live.
He made his signature dish on the show, we all clapped when he chopped up those vegetables… the Japanese eel I was talking to said ママたちですね… meaning we were like a group of mothers … how happy and proud we were to see him successfully chopping up those vegetables. I found those vegetables outside the studio as I was leaving, with permission from the staff, I took a few photos for remembrance.
After the filming was finished the entourage made their way back towards the elevator. He walked much slower than when he arrived… he was smiling, waving, blowing kisses ❤︎❤︎ at the mass of people who were waiting further distance away from the studio. Rather than walking straight through the glass doors to the elevator, he deliberately made a detour in the opposite direction and came closer to the fence. Blowing more kisses, finger hearts and waved at the crowd. He smiled brightly, it was a boyish smile and his eyes gleamed under the sun. He was ushered towards the glass doors, but he turned around again to blow more kisses and then once again he tried to turn before walking through those glass doors but when he turned he saw the security guy who was walking very closely behind him and then turned back to the doors instead. I thought it was so sweet of him to come closer to the fence, there were a lot more eels behind where I was whom could hardly see anything but still showed up for support. He purposely walked nearer and slower so more people could have the chance to see him.
tenshi_akuma’s note: You can see English-subbed PON! from here.
That evening, was line live… I’m sure everyone saw how adorable he was so I won’t elaborate. It was already like Christmas, an extra opportunity to see Suk closely with my own eyes… little did I know there was more of that to come…
tenshi_akuma’s note: You can see the non-subbed Geun-chan Santa from here. We’ll share English-subbed one later.
On December 21st, Cri J had announced organisation of a support event for the red carpet before the SBS annual drama award. While I was reading the fan notice in official fan club, I was thinking to myself… 31st of December… South Korea… it’s quite cold… snowing even raining, is it really worth while for me to fly over, wait for a few hours just for a minute or even seconds? Then again… It’s an award ceremony, there will be other stars, camera, reporters etc… It’s New year’s eve… kind of big holiday to spend with family etc… what if not enough people are able to go? How will this then be perceived? Although… I’m just one person… but each person counts… right ..?? (As it turns out my concerns were completely unnecessary). I haven’t been to a red carpet event before either… it’d also be a new experience… after much thought and successfully convinced myself it’s a good idea I flew over the Seoul on the 30th December.
I read in the notice, although the official line up for the red carpet event commences at 3pm, the Cri J staff was going to be there from 7-8 o’clock, since my accommodation was not too far away, I thought I’ll just go check out the situation early in the morning and maybe go back in the afternoon. When I arrived at the venue around 7.30 am, I saw some chairs lined up along the side of the road outside the doors to prism tower… secretly proud of myself having brought one with me after what happened last time. There was one person standing outside of the entrance guarding those chairs. I walked up towards her… 장어 이에요?… she asked … “Are you an eel?” I nodded then she pointed towards the door and asked me to go inside the building. Once inside, I saw a bunch of eels sitting down, waiting, touching up make-up and taking photos on the stage. I recognised some people whom I´ve met before. As there were a lot of Japanese eels, Cri J staff had organized a Japanese speaking person for on spot translation. After I’ve caught up with the people I knew, one of them suddenly asked me, what number are you? I blankly looked back at them… Number? What number? Then she suddenly stood up and grabbed my arm, led me to the Japanese speaking person and explained to her that I didn’t have a number … ???? … I’m not sure how many people have been since I arrived… sigh… anyway… I was number 55. After registering my name, I sat down again… the staff member came by and gave me a heat pack and said it was for later.
As I had not originally planned to stay long, I had left some of my gears at the hotel so had to go back and get them. As I made my way to the subway station, my friend suddenly messaged me and told me to return ASAP as the group is now moving. I rushed back straight way. All the eels were lined up outside according to their assigned numbers in an ordered fashion.
I think it was around 10am when we all went outside… the temperature that day was -2 to 6*C. Ice was forming along the crevices on the ground and also around the electric pole. Now … I’ve been to Korea before around New Year time, so I sort of know what I should wear… what I had failed to realise was that it is one thing walking in the cold sightseeing with occasional heat from the shops or stalls wafting your way… quite another when you’re sitting down close to the ground and not moving very much for hours on end. I felt very fortunate that my shoes had 10cm heels so I was well lifted off the cold ground, having a chair also meant I didn’t have to sit on the ice cold concrete. My torso was fine, but my legs were shivering each time the piercing wind swept pass me. I felt slightly better after putting on third pair of legging beneath my supposedly heat locking trousers, bit of trouble bending my knees due to the layers of fabric but the added insulation seemed to have taken the edge off. I saw some people walking around with space blanket wrapped around their legs then covered by the official blanket… lightweight and windproof…
I’ll remember for next time… then I looked on the other side at someone close to me with her see through stocking and wondered whether there’s some sort of witchcraft involved…
As the hours went by, the sun have disappeared behind dense clouds, the temperature dropped further. My fingers were starting to stiffen from the cold despite my trusted merino wool gloves… at this point, the Cri J staff started to hand out heat packs again, a pair nevertheless !!! One for each hand… came just at the right time!!! I stuff them in my gloves and felt the much welcomed warmth, starting at the tips of my fingers then spread to the rest of my body. They also started handing out snack bars to the eels, there were extras which were given to people from other fandoms whom by then were starting to gather.
There were two girls who were dressed in traditional Korean costumes who were IU’s fans. They had asked to stand behind the eels as the eels have agreed for them to go to the front for IU’s reception once Suk has entered the venue.
A small truck came along the driveway, stopping almost in front of the entrance which was not far from where I was. I saw the Cri J staff lifted heaving looking boxes off the truck, a few minutes later I heard them say… Actor Jang is shouting everyone coffee… in both Korean and Japanese. The first 100 people had the special sleeve with Suk’s picture and Zikzin family logo, but there were extras that were also given to the others. The coffee was smooth and hot. There is really nothing better on a cold day then a hot drink… warms you up from the inside and I wasn’t feeling the cold anymore.
While we were drinking coffee, the Japanese speaking staff came by and said quietly… after the red carpet event finishes, please return and gather at 1am in the morning. There will be a special meeting after the ceremony.
As darkness sets in, the camera crew went about to set up their gadgets. Studio light came on casting a soft ambience on the waiting crowd. Cri J staff again started handing out things, this time was a LED lit flower. As it was difficult to co-ordinate the different languages, in the end they decided to use English instead. We had a few practice runs of turning the flowers ´on´ and ´off´. We saw the courtesy vehicle drive by a couple of times while they checked the camera angles and we knew the time was coming. The crew also gave us instructions on when to cheer when the guests arrive. Then the music came on, everyone was watching the end of the driveway with much anticipation. I had thought that the crew would give us a cue like who was coming because we couldn’t see who was in the car until the car comes close… but that was not the case. So when the first car arrived, everyone was chanting Jang Keun Suk, Jang Keun Suk… then the car zoomed pass and we barely had time to register that it wasn’t him, it was the other male MC… lol… but we cheered for him anyway. The second car drove in the wrong direction, from the silhouette we could tell that it was a woman and that was the female MC. Then that leaves the third car… as we waited with bated breath… the third car pulled into position.
Credit: mahdiyeh nikookalam
The eels started chanting again… much more enthusiastic and powerful than the practice runs. I sincerely believe, Suk must’ve said something to the driver… as this time when the car drove by… it was much slower than the first MC, much slower than the practice runs… the car rolled passed the cheering crowd, we could see him clearly, smiling, waving and blowing kisses at his fans. It was not a boyish smile like the other day, this was a sincere, nurturing, grown up smile that lit a light on the eels faces. After he got out of the car, he turned around and waved at everyone, we kept chanting his name as he made his way across the red carpet. Even after he entered the door and was being interviewed on stage, we kept chanting his name. When I watched the videos later on I can still sort of hear our voices in the background when sound is turned up… about 20 minutes after Suk was out of sight, the eels disbanded.
I guess by now everyone has seen the ceremony broadcast, how he tried to keep a straight face but unfortunately couldn’t stop grinning when the other MC commented on how many fans were there for support. How he pouted through most of the night. How he won the top 10 actor award and then the top excellence award for long drama. I gasped when his name was announced for the award, but then when the other actor was also nominated from Daebak… my heart sank… two actors from the same drama nominated for the same award??? Surely… they are going to give it to the older actor… out of respect… and he’s a wonderful actor too… and then completely taken by surprise… they announced Suk’s name…
His jaw slightly dropped like he’d just won lottery… it looked like the rest of the world faded around him… he was half aware of the other MCs congratulating him… as he gave his acceptance speech…
my mind went back to what has happened in the last couple of years… the slander… how he was cut from that TV show… how he suddenly “matured” and became discrete and pensive… the short film/biography that was transiently published in the fan club then removed… vividly told the loneliness behind the spotlight… despite all this he continued with his music career, gradually made his way back through Produce 101, Daebak, my ears candy… and on this night… finally, finally received the recognition he so deserves… I was so happy for him… I felt so proud and honoured to have witnessed this moment and I couldn’t stop my tears through the next 2 awards…
After the ceremony… the eels gathered outside prism tower once again. We stood by as we watched the fans for other celebrities said goodbye to their star. By then, all the studio lights have been taken away… there was only a dimly lit lamp post outside the door, a stark contrast to the splendor that it was before the ceremony. Finally, everyone else have gone, the eels were the only ones left. We stood in a L formation and I was first row around the corner of the L, there was no barrier where I was standing. Then the Tree J staff turned up signalling us to get ready and told us to light up our smart phones to use as a torch as it was too dark to see.
A white car pulled up stopping just a few metres in front of the waiting crowd. Before meeting his eels, Suk had exchanged his shiny coat and sparkling shoes for a simple hoodie, jeans and relaxed sneakers. He greeted the eels with open arms and basked in the affection and cheers from his eels. The two trophies were handed to him. He spoke to the eels, waving his trophies around… it seemed like there was an extra spring in his steps.
Credit: mahdiyeh nikookalam
tenshi_akuma’s note: Here is the English translation of what he said in the speech.
I felt a sudden a surge of pressure from the crowd standing behind me as he walked nearer and blew kisses at everyone… with all my self control I managed to stay in my spot… luckily the group was still more or less in formation… It was around 2 hours into 2017, the year could not have started better. After his speech, when it was finally time to say goodbye… he got into the car and turned the car light on. It was still not bright enough so he used his own phone to light up his face for us to see.
Surrounded by darkness… his face was the only thing that was bright and I could not take my eyes off… As the car made an U turn, some eels ran up towards the car … I just stayed in my spot and watched as the car drove away…
Before I left I wanted to tell someone how grateful I was that Cri J had organised the event so that I could have the opportunity to stand alongside fellow eels to show my support. I saw them standing outside in the cold to keep watch of our marked area while the eels sat inside and waited… how they ran around communicating with the crew so the eels are in good position for the red carpet reception… their much welcomed warming gift to help make the wait a little easier. Their efforts had made an already wonderful day even more perfect. I tracked down one of the staff member that I’ve heard spoke English to show my appreciation… I opened my mouth but suddenly I was lost for words… overwhelmed with the rush of emotions and thoughts of all the events that had taken place that day… all I could come up with was… “tonight was perfect… I just wanted to say thank you before I go”. She put a hand on my arm and said… “You’ll have a lot more opportunity to experience this in the future”… I quickly said, “Thank you” and left before my tears have the chance to fall again. It was a wonderful way to start 2017… although this year I won’t have as much flexibility to go to see Suk live… I’ll treasure the memories I have made and stay hopeful that some miracle might happen and I could travel again soon. Some of the pictures were found online with credits to the uploader, thank you. [END]
tenshi_akuma’s note: Lastly I share here one of her fan-made MV related to Daebak.