That Sam Oh never queues for tickets to the K-drama stars’ fan meet is why she’s envied by fans. She already has a special place on stage, right next to the latest oppa in town. Her proximity and friendly repartee—helped by translator Joonhyun Kim this time—with the Korean celebs are stuff that fuel K-drama oppa dreams. (Oppa is a Korean honorific used by younger women to address a brother or a close male friend.)
But envy, the green-eyed monster, isn’t all that crazy. Oh is equally admired for her hosting skill and comportment on stage. Her rapport with the oppa is a master class on fangirling, rendering every fan meet fun notwithstanding the endless screams. Still, she’s every K-drama fan’s frenemy—the woman you love and hate at the same time.
Oh recently welcomed to Manila Ahn Hyo Seop, Park Seo Jun, and Lee Min-ho, who turned October into February. The Korean stars were in town for their own meet-and-greet sessions.
Kang Tae Moo’s charm
Ahn Hyo Seop landed a day before the start of his “2023 Ahn Hyo Seop Asia Tour – The Present Show” at SM MOA on Oct. 8. Oh was a natural in making Ahn’s first-time visit a smooth journey.
With Kim translating his words to English, the ambassador of clothing brand Bench said: “I really wanted to have the chance to meet my [Filipino] fans.”
Ahn catapulted to fame in this country as Kang Tae Moo from the hit series “Business Proposal.” He was noticeably slimmer and casually attired—denim jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers—when he sat on the couch onstage. His physique and attire were a far cry from Tae Moo’s bulkier form and sartorial taste. Still, his charm was in tiptop form, working its way into the fans and Oh’s heart.
That Oh was smitten with Ahn was obvious in her Instagram posts. In one, she shared her favorite moments at his press conference: “He greeted the audience in Tagalog, talked about his collaboration with Bench, was amused by a reporter’s flawless Korean. He really took time to mull over some of the questions and charmed us all until the end.”
In another, she mentioned how so disarming Ahn was that she did hand gestures she never did in real life for their picture together. She continued: “He really put on a show today and everyone was thoroughly charmed. Thank you @benchtm for always making our K-oppa dreams come true.”
Ahn had a huge hand in conceptualizing his fan meet-show, according to TheDiarist. “The title means thinking that the best time to feel happiness is right here and right now. That’s why we have to make the most of the time right here and right now,” explained the actor, who recently starred in “A Time Called You.”
He was serious about delivering great fan service and so he played the piano, danced to “Vibe” like a bonafide K-pop idol, and sang. His rendition of the original soundtrack of the series “Reply 1988” captivated The Diarist’s Thelma Sioson San Juan, prompting her to write “What a voice” as caption for her Instagram post of Ahn singing.
Young-joon’s quick exit
Oh’s reunion with Park Seo Jun (PSJ) was brief. They’d met when he was in Manila as Bench ambassador four years ago. He returned for a fan meet titled “Park Seo Jun Fun Meet in Manila” at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Oct. 14.
It was surreal for Oh to be beside the actor who breathed life into Lee Young-joon from “What’s wrong with Secretary Kim?” and Park Sae-ro-yi in “Itaewon Class.”
“[I was] having a moment mid Q-and-A when it suddenly became real that he was sitting next to me,” she wrote on Instagram.
In the same breath, she expressed appreciation to PSJ for pausing for translator Kim before continuing to talk.
She and Kim got PSJ to share a bit of himself, such as how he used to google himself in his early debut days, but not anymore. PSJ admitted to not recalling specific memorable fan moments, “but I can never forget the faces of my fans when it’s the first to meet them and the time to say goodbye, and wish for the next time to meet again.”
One reason fans find Oh lovable is her humor. Not one to not poke fun at herself, she called attention to her little stumble when she walked towards PSJ after his entrance. “While you’re mesmerized by PSJ, wait for my entrance, I’m deadz [sic] … laughter emojis,” wrote the former De La Salle Santiago Zobel student in a mix of Tagalog and English for her video caption.
Then everything was over. The disappointed fans, including Oh, said they were left hanging as they watched PSJ wave goodbye through the confetti shower while walking off stage. Reeling from his hasty exit, Oh was quick to hold PSJ to his word of “coming back again … [for] another great time together.”
She shouted out to him in her video montage caption: “Super bitin, but I guess that’ll make us miss @bn_sj2013 oppa more. Come back soon, please! Hope you all had a great time.”
The Emperor’s back
Oh’s tête-à-tête with Lee Min-ho, the K-drama king, was on Oct. 15. They’d met seven years ago in Manila when he visited as a Bench ambassador.
But this time she was prepared to take the leap to forever togetherness. Posting a selfie of herself in a black-and-white ensemble for the event at MOA Arena, she wrote: “Gaiz [sic], actually @actorleeminho and are getting married … .”
Exuding effortless elegance, the underrated fashionista’s black trousers and white bustier complemented the regal mien of Lee, the special guest for the celebration of 65 years of SM Development Corp (SMDC).
Another reason fans love Oh is her tongue-in-cheek articulations of their feelings, but without the delusional thinking. It’s all fun and games, and wholesome admiration for the multi-hyphenated actor who’d portrayed a young scion in “Boys before Flowers” and “The Heirs” to a T and, maturing as an actor, played a con man in “The Legend of the Blue Sea,” a long-suffering Emperor in “The King: Eternal Monarch,” and, most recently, a shady merchant in “Pachinko.”
Outside of acting, he’s the most recognizable face among Hugo Boss’ global brand ambassadors. As SMDC’s new ambassador, he embodies its motto of “Home of the Good Guy” with a majestic demeanor.
Per the Inquirer account, Lee “answered the questions asked by Oh honestly and directly,” such as the prickly topic of body shaming, and revealed his face’s tendency to swell when he eats something he shouldn’t, and thus he goes hungry most of the time.
The meet-up was different from the previous ones Oh had emceed. It didn’t have the theater-style setup, but was a sit-down dinner hosted by SMDC for its executives, employees, and unit buyers, SM partners, and members of Lee’s fandom, Minoz. At the center of the venue was a round platform—with a white couch for Lee—that made a slow 360-degree turn to give everyone a chance to see him. Lee didn’t sing or dance; he conversed with the guests.
Oh’s post of her and Lee tickled everyone pink: “After we said ‘I do,’ char char … I love him already, gaiz [sic]! Thank you @theofficialsmdc for bringing back @actorleeminho to the Philippines.”
Keep your cool
Seeing fans lose their heads—and their dignity—at seeing their favorite Korean celebrities is not pleasant. An amateurish host would only exacerbate the situation but an accomplished one, like Oh, would know how to maintain balance between the admirer and the admired.
Oh’s adroitness lies in keeping fan meets entertaining, not inane. She turns jarring screams into squeals of revelry, thus eliminating the cringe factor. Significantly, she’s the model eonni (Korean for big sister): She’s even-keeled in a thick haze of oppa infatuation.
Undoubtedly, Oh is the compère extraordinaire, who’s got the basics of fangirling down pat. She knows it’s about staying calm, collected, and, in her case, professional.