Celebrity Sightings: Blue’s edition

When you search “Jang Dong Gun” on Korean search engines like Naver or Daum, “Jang Dong Gun in person” (장동건 실물) often comes out as a related search. I admit I’m not a fan of Jang Dong Gun, but so many people often cite him to be the best looking Korean actor and lament that he’s one of the least photogenic actors in Korea because he looks so much better in person. So now I have a new mission in life to meet and see Jang Dong Gun to determine once and for all what all the fuss is about. And my time is running out, as I hope to see him while he has not aged completely and still maintaining his “youth.”

But this got me thinking about starting a new blog series titled “Celebrity Sightings,” where we share with one another our impressions of celebrities we did meet in person.

There really is a thin line between being a fan of a celebrity and worshipping one. After all, they’re just people like any one of us. And also there are people who criticize how celebrities’ private lives become so scrutinized. But nevertheless, this is for good fun. If you have any celebrity encounter stories you’d like to share with us, please email us at bbelectricground@gmail.com.

And the first person to start off the series is… umm, ME!

**********

HAN CHAE YOUNG

I saw Han Chae Young (A Man Called God) on multiple occasions around 1998-1999,  a year before she made her tv debut with Autumn Tale and before she had received any plastic surgery on her face. (Umm, she definitely did her eyes, even though she had double eyelids before as well.) She really stands out in my memory because she was simply GORGEOUS. I didn’t even realize that I ended up staring at her, and she noticed my stare and looked back at me. I remember remarking that with her looks, she probably has a chance at becoming an actress or model in Korea if she chooses. A year later, she appeared on my tv screen.

Even to this day, I count Han Chae Young as one of the three most beautiful women I’ve met in person. One was Han Chae Young. Second was this Korean girl who I “spotted” and a few months later, ended up running for the Miss Korea pageant. Third was my friend’s friend who we ended up going clubbing with one night. She was mixed between Caucasian, Puerto Rican, and Filipino, and you know how beautiful mixed people usually are.  But yes, even among the three, Han Chae Young really stood out to me for her beauty.

Her public profile lists her height at 172 cm, which I understand is just short of 5’8″. I’m not sure if she was quite 5’8″, but I would have guessed between 5’7″ and 5’8″, so I don’t think her public profile is too big of a stretch.

People do mention how some people just look better on screen, whereas others are simply not as photogenic. Han Chae Young appears to be the latter because when I first saw her on screen in Autumn Tale, my first impression was how she looks nowhere near as good on tv as she does in real life, even though her features had not changed from when I saw her in person. Perhaps she thought the same because between Autumn Tale and Delightful Girl Choon Hyang, she obviously went under the knife. Funny how whenever I see her on screen, I still never think of her as being particularly beautiful compared to other actors or actresses.

**********

KIM CHANG WAN

I went into a store and noticed that a crowd had gathered and was forming a line. I looked up and noticed a banner announcing a fan signing event for singer/actor Kim Chang Wan. He was the vocalist for the late 70s/early 80s rock band, Sanulrim. But drama fans may be more familiar with him from his roles in Coffee Prince and White Tower.

I quickly lined up, and as the fan signing was just starting, I was one of the first people in line. My first impression of him was how identical he appeared as on television. Dressed in a black t-shirt and jeans, and his hair looking slightly unkempt, he looked like any other middle-aged Korean ahjussi. In fact, if I saw him on the street, I probably would have just passed him by without even realizing that he was Kim Chang Wan. He really blends in with the crowd. He didn’t have any makeup on, but his skin was rather fair. He has a very soft-spoken voice, but when he smiled, it felt genuine and warm, and not just a “fake” celebrity smile.

When I was getting his autograph, I debated between giving him my Korean name or my American name. I decided on my American name because the only other celebrity autograph I have was also signed to my American name. But I had to slowly spell out my name for him.

**********

LEE SEUNG SHIN

All the celebrities from hereon were those that I saw from a pre-show to a soccer match between a celebrity soccer team and a Korean-American one around 2003. The pre-show had free admission and many people showed up. But it was so delayed that many folks ended up leaving. I too was packing up to leave, but that’s when they arrived. Somehow or another, I ended up standing in the front row, just a few feet away from the celebrities on stage.

I had no idea why Lee Seung Shin and Lee Ah Hyun were there, but my brain was quickly calculating who they could possibly be dating from the men who were there. (This was before Lee Seung Shin or Lee Ah Hyun got married.)

Lee Seung Shin (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Old Boy) was wearing a windbreaker and her hair was slicked back into a ponytail. As an indication of how “Korean” I am, the first thing I did when I saw her was to look at the person who I went with and exclaim, “Oh my gosh, her face is so small!” I too did not expect that to be my first reaction.

She has a rather tanned skin, but she was wearing a very heavy foundation. My mom used to always comment on her square jaw when she saw her on television, but again, that seems to be just accentuated on screen. Although not evoking the thought of being drop dead gorgeous, she was very pretty in person and again, the tv does not seem to do her justice.

**********

LEE AH HYUN

Lee Ah Hyun (Twinkle Twinkle) was wearing the same windbreaker as Lee Seung Shin. Now that I think about it, it might have been their team windbreaker. She had her hair braided into pigtails, and her complexion contrasted so much from Lee Seung Shin. Perhaps it was the effect of the pigtails, but she looked young and cute.

**********

PARK SANG MYUN

Unlike the women who looked much better in person than on television, the men looked strikingly the same. Park Sang Myun (Mary Stayed Out All Night) is listed as 180 cm (around 5’11”) on his profile. I’m very bad with approximating people’s height, but he was quite tall in person so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s accurate.

All the men each sang a song, and Park Sang Myun was the best singer of the group. I’ve always known him to be a good singer, and he didn’t disappoint.

**********

HEO JUN HO

Heo Jun Ho (Moss) is also listed as 180 cm, but that is obviously a lie. The first thought that crossed my mind was how much smaller he looked than I imagined he would be. Actually, that was the only thought that crossed my mind about him. He sang a song, and he was pretty good too. (I swear, these Koreans, all they do is go karaoking. What the heck!)

**********

TAK JAE HOON

Tak Jae Hoon (Night After Night) is so much quieter and awkward in real life. Everyone expected him to be the life of the show, but was surprised to find him so… reserved. He was the only “singer” from the group, but I found it amusing how he was actually the worst singer among them.

His profile lists him as 179 cm, but like Heo Jun Ho, that’s a lie. Both me and the person I was with noticed that he looked smaller than we imagined he would be. If I have to take a guess, I’d take a inch or two away from his “official” profile.

**********

I don’t know why Koreans are so sensitive about our height. I admit that I’m 5’3″ and I like to tell others that I’m 5’4″. Usually, people just accept it as is, but one day, I decided to push it a little further and told my friend I was 5’5″. Needless to say, they wondered what I was smoking. So yes, 5’4″ it is! *wink wink*

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19 Responses to Celebrity Sightings: Blue’s edition

  1. estel says:

    I have a great meeting-a-celebrity story! Only, the thing is, I don’t know who I met.

    This was a couple of years ago now, I think 2008? I was in Korea as a missionary, actually, and as such I didn’t watch any dramas at all (I know – *gasp*). One day my friend and I were walking to the subway station from an appointment we’d just finished when a man stopped us on the sidewalk. As we were both foreigners, he addressed us in (broken) English, telling us we had to wait. When we replied in Korean, he was (like most Koreans) happily shocked and struck up a conversation, telling us that we couldn’t go past because they were filming some drama and that someone famous was in it and did we know him? The guy himself was also in the drama, but for the life of me, I cannot remember the names that he told me. At the time I didn’t much care and wouldn’t have known Lee Byung-heon from any other guy on the street, so obviously I wouldn’t have been impressed. But now I really wish I knew even which drama was filming there that day! I find it ironic, considering my complete obsession with dramas these days. Ah, the irony.

  2. letmeeatcake says:

    Wow you’ve met a lot of celebrities.
    I don’t think I’ve met any to be honest…

  3. D says:

    I would totally have liked to meet Han Chae Young….she was my first kdrama actress..sadly enough I haven’t seen her deliver anything well since…but I’d still like to meet her to see how pretty she is and after this post my curiosity has been raised even more

  4. madzgo says:

    I think I also saw a Korean celebrity while taking a tour in Mont Saint Michel, a famous tourist spot (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in France. But for the life of me, I can’t recognize her! She was tall, around 5’7, very fair (milky white) and tiny face. She stood out like a model/celebrity because of her pose and she’s wearing big sunglasses. I kept staring at her and wish I stayed on to ask her name but my friends kept prodding me that we have to move on because there’s really a huge crowd there that time.

    • lotlot says:

      OMG, madzgo, did you see Shin MinA?! Remember, she was in France filming a travel show for O’live TV, in 2008. You never wrote about this on the thread ^^

  5. Fanderay says:

    Really? Jang Dong Gun is supposedly the best-looking Korean actor? I so don’t agree. In fact, I don’t even think he’s close! I hope you do meet him so I can find out if you are knocked off your feet.

    Besides some people looking better IRL, I also think there is a difference between being photogenic, and video-genic (yes, I just made that word up). For example, when I first saw a poster for Coffee Prince, I thought, “Why did they pick THAT guy as a second lead.” Of course the minute I saw Lee Sun Gyun in action I completely adored him, and he’s become one of my very favorites. Oddly enough, now that I like him, even when I see him in still photos I think he looks good o_O.

    I don’t get starstruck and don’t really care about celebrities’ personal lives, but I still think this is a really interesting idea, if only for comparative purposes! It’s fun hearing all these stories too 😀

    • blue says:

      I could see why people would think he’s good looking, but like you, he’s not to my taste. But on polls and such, he often ranks #1 for looks and when celebrities pick fellow celebrities who they think are the best looking in person, his name frequently comes up.

      Softy did see him in person, and I’ve pestered her into doing the second edition of the Celebrity Sightings series. So we should be getting another opinion!

      • Softy says:

        blue- There was no pestering at all – if anything I was the one who bugged you by making you fill in my name blanks and asking a bunch of questions 🙂
        I have to defend JDG – you two gals just need to see him in person – how much you wanna bet you guys will be taking back these words. There is a reason why ppl fall for his looks – I could go on for hours why he has the right to be number one and i wouldnt even get winded. When ppl say someone’s looks made them stop in their tracks – this is the guy they were talking about.

      • Fanderay says:

        I am still dubious Softy! If you see him again, let me know and hold on to him for 20 hours or so (I’ll be on the first flight over). I dunno…he looks kinda French to me, and that’s not really a look I go for (maybe I’m too sick of French from growing up in Canada, lol).

        What movie or drama has he been in that I should watch? I know from experience that photos often trick me (usually to the actor’s detriment) so I’m willing to give him a chance.

    • doozy says:

      I’m with Fanderay and blue regarding Jang Dong Gun’s looks. I guess we all need to see him in person and watch him stop traffic. 😉

  6. joonni says:

    I have seen Jang Dong Gun in person when he and Han Jae Suk came to NYC’s Korean Day Parade after All About Eve aired. I was younger than and since it was a long time ago, I don’t really have a good memory of it. But was in line to get his autograph and remember just staring at him. Although I never fangirled him, I am one of those people who at one point did call him the best looking actor in Korea because I can objectively tell by his face features and proportions that it is very appealing. Googling his image just now, I think I can agree that he looks better in person than in pictures. I think there is just a real sweetness when you see him in person. He doesn’t have to do anything- you know how people talk about auras- JDG has such an appealing aura that you do fall under his spell when you look at him in person.

    As for Han Jae Suk, he looked pretty much the same in person.

    I’ve seen Se7en in person also. He was having a dance battle in person. He looks better in person than in photos. I think it is his eyes and lips. His eyes seem bigger and his lips seem thinner in reality.

    I’ve also seen Park Yoo Chun (Sungkyunkwan Scandal) and he looked better in person than in photos. I also exclaimed on how small he was- not in terms of height but just in general in comparison to television. He was so skinny and that saying that “television puts ten pounds on you” really applies to him and his fellow JYJ members.

    You should do a “looks better in motion than in photos” series. I was just thinking, while watching currently airing dramas, about how Lee Min Ho is one of those actors that looks better in motion (while acting) than in photos. On the opposite side, I think Jung Yong Hwa looks better in pictures than in motion.

    • bella012 says:

      I second Blue’s request, you should defintiely contribute to it.

      My mom spotted Han Jae Suk years ago in Korea and she said, “ehh not getting his appeal for everyone but he does look good in photos.”

  7. Fanderay says:

    You watched Se7en do a dance battle?? Was he good?? Pretty much anyone that gets in a dance battle instantly becomes 100 times more attractive to me (sadly, I mean that sincerely).

    • joonni says:

      It was when he came to Hollywood’s Highland Club with his “Girls” American debut. My friend got us into the VIP room where he and some dancers and other people were having a dance off. He was very good, but I wasn’t astounded. He showed more moves than what you get from his songs so that was cool. The general atmosphere wasn’t that high key anyway.

      • blue says:

        Hey Joonni!
        Would you be interested in doing a guest blogger post on your celebrity sightings? Please! I think everyone would love to hear your stories!

  8. ditdut says:

    Gotta admit, I did some (a lot?) of fangirl stalking when I was on exchange in Korea. The fact that I was on “borrowed time” kinda justified it, even though I feel like these stalking stuff could be pretty unhealthy if gotten out of hand hehehe. I saw a few people like Lee Seunggi, Alex, and Shin Sekyung up close. But the one I’ve seen multiple times is Jung Ilwoo.

    I went to Korea several months after seeing Return of Iljimae and being completely blown away by it. Naturally, Jung was on my hit list. So I went to his small theatre gig in Hongdae called Beautiful Sunday where he played a homosexual guy with HIV. Mind you, I could only understand like half of it, but I was so gung ho about seeing Jung. He had a shirtless scene and that was all that mattered! A few months after the play, I read he was having a fansign, so off I went to the edge of Seoul (dramatic, but accurate). He had been inactive from TV for about a year, so his fansign was pretty quiet. He had awful permy hair for that event, but so darn pretty. Then three weeks ago, he came over here for a photoshoot. And this is where I feel like being a fan is taking a toll on my sanity because we specifically ventured out to the airport and waited for an hour just so we could see him for probably two minutes at most. Despite the 10 hour flight, he arrived looking so gorgeous, even if slightly disheveled. Saw him for two minutes and went back home completely starstruck hahah.

    • blue says:

      Wow, you met JIW so many times! Is he as pretty as he looks on TV? Does he come across as effeminate-looking at all in real life?

  9. supah says:

    *gasp* You lucky cow!
    I like Lee Ah-hyun, she comes across a bit of a goofy, likable type.
    But you, le bleu, have met some pretty awesome people. Like Heo Jun-ho and Park Sang-myun! Bravo!

    My big brother’s been pretty lucky and met a couple of showbiz people, like Ahn Jae-mo.
    That’s it, I need to visit Korea!

    • blue says:

      I was really excited to meet them, but it turned out to be pretty uneventful. Park Sang Myun seemed like he’d be a fun guy, though! How was your brother’s meeting with Ahn Jae Mo? For a second, I thought you were referring to Ahn Jae Wook, and then I remembered that Ahn Jae Mo was the guy from Rustic Period, right?

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