Friday, December 25, 2009

Lee Min Ho's fans are happy, though some say the S$188 tickets are too costly

About 1,800fans shelled out between S$98 and S$188 to meet Korean star Lee Min Ho at The Max Pavilion @ Singapore Expo on Monday.

But a few lucky ones got into the event even though they were not willing to pay a premium to meet him.

"It's too expensive," says Eraferah Obrero,14. The Bartley Seconday student, however, spent five hours waiting at the Fairmont Singapore to catch a glimpse of the actor, who shot to fame in the Korean drama Boys Over Flowers.

Once he left the hotel, she hopped into a cab with other fans and followed his car to the performance venue. She waited hopefully at the Expo until 8.30pm, when a fan gave her a ticket for free. She was one of six teenagers Life! spoke to who got into the venue for free after receiving complimentary tickets from kind-hearted fans who had extras.

While ecstatic over her luck at getting to see the star on stage, she is adamant that she will pay to meet him at future events only if the price is low enough. "About S$50 or $60 is okay," she says.

For students like her, who make up a large proportion of the 22-year-old Korena actor's fan base, price is a big issue when it comes to seeing their idol live.

While organisers Unusual Entertainment sold 80 percent of the tickets for Monday's event, it was apparent that it was mostly the seats costing S$98 and $148 that was filled at the beginning of the evening. Unusual declined to reveal actual sales proportion. The minute the house lights dimmed, many people seated farther back rushed to the front to take the empty places.

In the 90minutes that followed, Lee answered a few questions from the floor through a translator, and tried out a few greetings in English and Mandarin.

A few fans chosen by lucky draw went up on stage with him. He hugged them, took photographs and played games with them, and even fed a few by hand. About 30fans received this personalised attention, while the hundreds of others on the floor watched, mesmerised.

Life! spoke to 20 of the fans and none of them was disappointed with the evening. Madam Hindon Noordin, 47, who bought the cheapest $98 seat, even wishes she had gone for the most expensive ticket to see the actor clearly. "It was worth it. I laughed all the way," says the clerk who goes online daily to check out Lee's photos and news.

The actor has won hearts here since Boys Over Flowers was first aired on Channel U earlier this year. His October visit to Singapore to promote a Korean cosmetics brand drew nearly 1,000people to its store at Plaza Singapura, causing fears for his safety and a cancellation of his visit there.

It is no wonder that he was chosen as the draw for Singapore's first ticketed fan meeting. Such events are popular in Japan and Korea, but are raising eyebrows among concert promoters here.

Mr Ngiam Kwang Hwa, chairman of Rock Records Singapore, which brought in Taiwan band Mayday earlier this year, says pay-to-meet-the-stars-sessions are "mainly for Korean artistes". "For Chinese artistes i do not see such a trend."

The issue at stake, however, appears to be setting the right price. "For customers to pay a price to enter the venue, we should provide them with a worthwhile performance. Die-hard fans will pay alot for a handshake or a photo, but this is a small group compared to the potential audience the act can attract."

Tickets for the two-night Mayday gig in August cost between S$88 and $178 and drew 14,000 people, nearly 10times the number at Lee's fans meeting.

Ms Samantha Chan of Red Spade Entertainment agrees. She brought in top Korean pop acts such as T-Max, The Brown-Eyes Girls and FT Island for a Fort Canning gig that drew 7,000 people. Tickets for the four-hour show cost between $65 and $100.

"We will not fly in someone just to do a meet-and-greet. We will do such session, but it will always tied to a performance," she says, adding that the sessions should be kept free and open to only select fans.

Free sessions, or at least far cheaper ones, will appeal to cash-strapped fans such as Yeo Yuan Ning, 15, who was at The Max Pavilion on Monday. She bought a S$188 ticket at a third of the price from a friend who could not make it at the last minute. Otherwise, she would have had second thoughts about even spending $98 for the cheapest seat.

"I hope to continue to support Lee Min Ho because he is a very good actor," says the Pei Cai Secondary student. "But i think $188 is too expensive."

He hugs and feeds fans
Fans who paid between S$98 and S$188 to see Korean star Lee Min Ho spent 90minutes with him. The first ticketed meet-and-greet session in Singapore played out this way:
- The star of Korean drama Boys Over Flowers goes on stage at 8.45pm and answers a few questions from the emcee. Asked to describe a memorable Christmas, he talks about one he missed because he drank too much.
- On request, he sketches his ideal girl for the audience. The stick figure receives wild applause.
- Questions written earlier by fans are drawn out of a box. Most ask when the actor will next star in drama. Next year, he answers.
- Photos from a photobook entitled Travel with Min Ho are screened. He provides a running commentary. The S$49 book is on sale at the event.
- Six fans are chosen by lucky draw to play a staring game, hug or take a polaroid shot with Lee.
- Lee takes a 10-minutes break to change clothes. Scenes from his dramas and ads are screened to applause from the mostly female audience.
- Another six fans picked by lucky draw get to draw pictures on stage and Lee tries to guess what they are sketching. He guesses right all six times.
- Six other fans are fed Korean snacks by Lee. One returns the favour.
- Photos of his childhood are screened, with comments from the star.
- He is given a cellphone and calls six fans whose mobile numbers are picked by lucky draw. The come on stage, cop a hug and get T-shirts. Priced at $29, the T-shirts are also sold at the event.
- The actor cuts a cake and gets the audience to sing 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas'. he follows this with a rendition of My Everything, from the Boys Over Flowers soundtrack.
- Those in the audience with a card under the seat get a chance to shake hands or hug Lee. Women run from row to row feeling under chairs in their enthusiasm to snag a card. The event ends around 10.45pm.

Source :
cr : yon@soompi

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