I’ve been wanting to do a write up since I came back home but it’s taken me awhile. I won’t go into details but there were lots of obstacles in seeing Dongwookie this time round in Korea since I was there for something else but it all worked out in the end. Yay!
It’s better to go in chronological order so it makes more sense so I’ll start with seeing him at the airport. It was an interesting one because I wanted to give him a surprise so I didn’t make any mention I was going to Korea beforehand. On the day, he was coming back to Korea after two white day events in Japan. There were more fans than usual that day at the airport.
I stood in the pathway where people pass through when coming out of arrivals and waited for him to appear. To give a bit of background, Eleven9 had just announced that to celebrate his 15th debut anniversary, that a special event where him and Lucky Se7en would deliver coal briquettes to a neighbourhood in Seoul. However, there was a specific note on the notice that it was an event for Korean fans and it would be hard for overseas fans to participate. Anyway, I was going to be in Korea on that date so wanted to ask him if there was some way I could go.
After a bit of waiting, he appears at the arrival gate. He sees me and there was an instant look of surprise on his face. He was like “Why are you here?”, “Did you fly here from Australia?” I told him I was in Korea for a friend’s wedding. Then I asked him about the coal briquette event and he said, “You’re still going to be in Korea then?” I answered yes and asked if there is a way I could participate. At that point, he stopped, turned around to face me and other fans and explained that because there is a limit for the number of people who can go, that Korean fans have priority. He told me to apply first and see. It was nice because he actually stopped to explain instead of continuing to walk and talk.
The other thing was when he first saw me when he walked out, he shook my hand but instead of a normal handshake that lasted 2 seconds, it was a long handshake that lasted 5sec+. It was a warm feeling, like when you see someone you haven’t seen for a long time and you’re happy to see them again!
As we all walked out of the airport and headed towards his van, I asked him to sign my copy of 1109. He said aloud, well if you ask me of course I have to sign it. My friend reckons he said this a bit louder to kind of hint he couldn’t sign for everyone?! I’m not sure… anyhow, when he was trying to sign, the silver marker was playing up so he kept shaking it and saying it’s not coming out. He still managed to sign after some vigorous shaking 🙂
He then proceeded to shake everyone’s hand before getting into the van. I remember giving his hand a squeeze and it felt soft. LOL. He joked around a bit with everyone and took his sunglasses off. He kept waving until the van left.
180324 15th Debut Anniversary Coal Briquette Event
Fast forward a week and it’s the coal briquette event! During that week, 1109 released a notice saying that overseas fans could apply now so I applied and got through! Yay!!
To explain the coal briquette event for those who don’t know, in winter, parts of Korea still depend on burning coal for heating (in the poorer areas). There is a coal briquette bank where people can make donations to buy coal for people in need, then people volunteer their time to deliver the briquettes to neighbourhoods in need. The neighbourhood we were delivering to was at No won gu in Seoul.
We were told to meet at 9:30 in front of a convenient store but there were multiple groups who were delivering to other neighbourhoods also meeting at the same time, so there were lots of people. To separate the groups, someone held a sign for each group.
When time came, staff called out names to check everyone was here. Then we set off for the village where we were going to distribute the coal briquettes. It was a bit of a winding walk uphill but it wasn’t far away. There waiting for us for Dongwookie himself 🙂 Everyone put their belongings into garbage bags and were given a vest, gloves and a wooden crate looking thing to carry on their back. Once we were all set, Dongwookie thanked everyone for coming and pointed out that WAWA his dance team were here as well. As we were going to be doing quite a bit of exercise/labour, he said we needed to warm up so that we wouldn’t hurt ourselves. He asked JaeYong to lead the warm up by teaching us the dance steps to Passion. LOL! Right….
The music for Passion starts but instead of dancing to Passion, JaeYong does stretching exercises that look more and more like Korea’s citizen’s exercise HAHA. Dongwookie joins him with the stretches and at the end the two of them dance very briefly to Passion. It was really funny 😛
The staff from the Coal briquette bank then briefs everyone on how things are going to work. He picks a few people to be in charge of loading the briquettes onto everyone’s crate, and another few others to be in charge of offloading. He warns everyone to take it easy and that each briquette weighed 3.6kg. Dongwookie started off by helping to load and loaded 4 briquettes for each person. It was quite a weird and surreal feeling because he stood there greeting each person as they came back to reload. He was so close and the atmosphere was so relaxed. He cheered everyone on and would ask from time to time are you ok? It gave people more motivation to come back quickly I think. At one point when he was loading the briquettes on my back, he asked me when I was leaving Korea. I told him tonight, that I stayed extra so I could come. He said, how can you come just for this, you should play more, coming all the way to Korea. I was like I played alot already!
We were all then directed by staff to go different directions from time to time. It was alot of walking up and down and carrying and off loading. It’s good that it was cold because otherwise it would have been really tough. Some people really struggled overtime. I felt ok, just that my thighs felt a bit tired at the end of it but it wasn’t too bad.
Dongwookie himself switched roles after awhile and starting carrying and delivering the briquettes himself. The most I saw him carry at one time was 12! That’s like 43kg! Gosh! Anyway, it looked pretty easy for him. Whenever he passed people by he would greet them and say, Fighting! or Still alright? He also joked around with people alot, I don’t know all the little stories but I did hear about some pretty hilarious conversations. I’ll share a couple (but won’t disclose names XD). A friend who also likes another idol group now was walking along with him and for a short period of time it was just the 2 of them walking. He commented on how she was dressed nicely today (everyone dressed in black or old clothes since your clothes will get dirty) and she said that it’s because she’s going with her mum later in the day to watch a concert of an old singer. Dongwookie then said jokingly, when you are 60 years old, and your kids buy you concert tickets, it will be for ‘name of idol group’ and not for me right? My friend couldn’t believe he knew she likes another group (he clicks on fans’ instagrams I’m telling you!) and didn’t know how to react either because she was in shock. XDDDDDDDDDDDDDD
Later on, Dongwookie told everyone that he really wanted to thank his dancers for coming because they actually had to perform at Shinhwa’s 20th anniversary concert that evening but they came anyway. One girl who was a friend of a fan who came along is a Shinhwa fan, so the fan told him that this friend is a Shinhwa fan, but instead of going to the concert, she can only see the dancers here haha. Dongwookie then says to her, Shinhwa Changjo (Shinhwa’s fanclub name) fighting! Then he turns to my friend and says, I don’t know their name. He was referring to that idol group’s fan club name and wanting to say fighting to that fanclub too. LOL. He is really so funny!!!!!
Anyway, backtrack a bit, it took about 1.5-2 hours before the 2000 briquettes were all delivered. Dongwookie thanked everyone for helping out and pointed to the food truck that he had prepared for everyone. He told everyone to get something to eat and that he would take a selfie with everyone one by one. He said take your time and just come slowly. Some people lined up with take a selfie with him straightaway but many people were getting their belongings or getting food. After awhile, he said jokingly, why are you all so busy eating? I’m standing here waiting for you! HAHA!!!! Everyone took the cue and lined up. I got my photo as well but as usual he’s the only one that looks good in the photo 😛 After one fan took a selfie with him, the wind started blowing the banner away behind her and he reached over to secure it. He jokingly said, ‘Manner man’ (it’s a Korean way of calling someone who looks after people especially women in situations which might be awkward or embarrassing for them, or just being a gentleman), then he asked her “Your heart fluttered right?” O my gosh, no words to describe how funny this was!!
While he was eating, one of his dancers played his songs from her phone and he was kinda moving to it. It was amusing because everyone was around and fans were either discussing their memories associated with each song or would sing along. You know he was listening to what people said though.
He roamed around talking to fans and at one stage stood around just chatting. Someone asked him about what he had planned for the rest of year, asking about albums, concerts etc. He talked about how next couple of months was devoted to the musical, then maybe he will do something for Se7en day etc… He tells everyone to only upload good photos of him, someone commented that he looks good all the time but he says sometimes he sees people only uploading weird photos of him. Another fan says he always makes sure he looks good in his selfies, and he smiled and said, is it really obvious? XD After awhile he says he will go first because it seems that people will only go after he leaves. As he heads to his fan, a grandmother from the village is standing up on the hill and she waves at him. He responds by making a big heart with his hands. It was soooo cute and heartwarming. He waves goodbye to everyone and gets into his van.
All in all, a meaningful and fun event! Hope you guys had fun reading!
The night before the event, I went to Eleven9 to drop off a present. I thought it would fit in the mailbox because it wasn’t big but it turned out it didn’t fit. I didn’t know what to do and went upstairs and left it in front of the office door. A few days later, I saw it uploaded on his instagram.
Although I was a bit sad he was going through some tough times (k netizens are relentless!) but I’m glad that God’s timing meant that my present came as the right time to encourage him!