PH K-Pop Community Comes Together to Remember SHINee’s Jonghyun

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On average, 40 people commit suicide every day in South Korea. Last week, 18 December, Monday, SHINee’s lead vocalist Kim Jonghyun became part of that statistic, sending a wave of shock and grief not just to his family, friends, and colleagues, but also to fans, also known as Shawols, who have come to love the multi-talented artist.

In an effort to commemorate the life and work of Jonghyun, memorial services across the globe were organized by fans who couldn’t make it to the funeral in Korea, where a separate hall was opened to fans who wished to pay their final respects to the beloved idol.

A makeshift memorial was created in front of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Chile on the day the news about Jonghyun’s passing broke out, while fans in Bolivia sent white balloons to the sky. Shawols in Miami, Florida also came together for a candle light vigil on the beach.

In the Philippines, various memorial services in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Zamboanga – among others – were held following Jonghyun’s death. And on the day before Christmas Eve, SHINee World Philippines, the first and largest fanclub of the five-member Korean pop group in the Philippines, held the country’s final memorial service for Jonghyun at the Korean Cultural Center of the Philippines (KCC).

Nearly 800 Shawols and K-Pop fans filled KCC’s Wave Hall and Exhibit Area to find comfort in each other’s company. Guests were encouraged to bring flowers, write letters to Jonghyun, and share their fondest memories as fans of SHINee.

Some took the opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of mental health, telling fellow fans to never hesitate to seek help and support if they feel alone or bothered by crippling thoughts of loneliness.

Towards the end of the service, the somber mood was lifted when a compilation of SHINee’s funniest videos was played, reminding the attendees of the vivacious Jonghyun they all know and love.

Check out some clicks from the event here:

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Words and photos by Krew Member Andy Flores

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K-Dramas of 2017 That You Should Binge-Watch Before The Year Ends

Because This Is My First Life

The year is quickly drawing to a close, but not without addictive K-Dramas that kept us glued to our screens for hours and hours almost everyday!

Of course, you’ve heard about 2017’s biggest hits like the cinematographically stunning Goblin (okay, it premiered in 2016, but it emerged as one of this year’s most popular dramas), the cute Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo that got us asking “Do you like Messi?”, and the super kilig Fight for My Way. In fact, you’ve probably watched those shows and still can’t get over them to this very day. Don’t worry, a lot of fans can relate!

But let me break to you now that this post is not about this year’s most talked-about Korean dramas. Here, I am rounding up seven underappreciated yet seriously good series from 2017 that you most definitely have to check out before we ring in another year of crack K-Dramas:

Circle: Two Worlds Connected

Circle

Okay, so what we have here are two brothers (Yoo Jin Goo and Ahn Woo Yeon) in search of their missing father and a beautiful alien named “Byul” (Gong Seung Yeon), who they believe carries the answers they have long been looking for. The second half of each episode features a ~perfect~ world some time in the future, where citizens’ memories have been erased and emotions are controlled through cutting-edge technology under a new centralized government headed by a secretive official, who has a shared past with the brothers. Intensely suspenseful with edge-of-your-seat twists and thrills, this dystopian sci-fi drama is unforgiving. While watching, put your theories on hold. Or better yet, just dismiss them all. They’re most likely wrong anyway.

Save Me

Save Me

The life of Sang Mi (Seo Ye Ji) has never been easy, but things have yet to become difficult for her. When her family is invited to join a cult by a charismatic leader who goes by the title “Spiritual Father,” her gullible father – who was recently scammed by a colleague – didn’t even take a second to hesitate and said yes. Living in the company of brainwashed followers (including her parents) who think she is the answer to their salvation, Sang Mi is determined to escape, leading her to seek the help of guilt-stricken Sang Hwan (2PM’s Taecyeon) and wrongfully-accused Dong Chul (Woo Do Hwan) to save her.

“Save Me” won’t leave you be. It is terrifying as it is disturbing – but in a good way. It bravely tackles an unconventional subject and jabs audiences with bits and pieces of hidden realities that are both eye-opening and thought-provoking.

Star of the Universe

Star of the Universe

The first part (and the best) of MBC’s “Three Colors of Fantasy” trilogy, “Star of the Universe” follows young grim reaper Kim Ha Na (Ji Woo), who is a huge fan of struggling has-been soloist Woo Joo (EXO’s Suho). When she finds out that her favorite singer will soon “go up,” Ha Na is faced with a dilemma: Should she fulfill her duty and collect Woo Joo’s soul or defy the rules and save the only man she loves? A story about music, second chances, and first love, “Star of the Universe” packs all the feels in just three episodes, leaving you in fits of laughter one moment and in tears the next. Here’s a tip: Grab a box of tissues before binge-watching. Trust me, you’ll need it.

Chicago Typewriter

Chicago Typewriter

Yoo Ah In, Im Soo Jung, and Go Kyung Pyo take on double roles for “Chicago Typewriter” as witers in Japanese colonial era Korea in the 1930s and as a best-selling writer plagued by depression, a literary fanatic, and a genius jazz-loving writer in the present.

This intellectually crafted story about literatis in the past whose reincarnated lives cross paths again in the present is unlike any other K-Drama you’ve seen before, and its historical roots make it all the more interesting. Prepare your heart, because this love story that transcends the test of time will leave it shattered into pieces.

Age of Youth 2

Age of Youth 2

The girls of the Bell Epoque boarding house (Han Ye Ri, KARA’s Han Seung Yeon, Park Eun Bin, Ji Woo) have returned, with more drama, shenanigans, and hilarity in tow! Picking up three months then a year after audiences first met the girls, “Age of Youth 2” continues to connect the characters through events that will challenge their strength in dealing with growing pains. And, oh, a new and lovable addition to the house (Choi Ah Ra) brings her own brand of quirkiness to the group. You might want to check out the first season of “Age of Youth” (if you haven’t yet) before hopping on to this one. Don’t worry, though, it wouldn’t be a waste of your time, since  the show, as a whole, is a refreshing take on the chick drama category. It’s fun, insightful, and the best part: It reminds you that you’re not alone in facing your daily struggles in love and life.

Girls’ Generation 1979

Girls' Generation 1979

Think “The Wonder Years,” but set in Daegu, Korea in the late ’70s. That’s pretty much a way to describe “Girls’ Generation 1979” – a coming-of-age dramedy that gives us a peek into the life of Jung Hee (WJSN’s Bona), who experiences the sweetness and pain of love and heartbreak for the first time. Joining her is a colorful set of characters, including the Seoulite Hye-Joo (Chae Soo Jin), a beauty-and-brains kind of girl who has just moved in to the city with her father; Dong Moon (Seo Young Joo), a charming nerd who has fallen for Jung Hee; Son Jin (Yeo Hoi Hyeon), who’s the epitome of Mr. Perfect to Jung Hee; and Young Choon (CNBLUE’s Lee Jonghyun), a hard-working young man who takes odd jobs to support himself and his little sister.

Light-hearted and endearing, “Girls’ Generation 1979” treats audiences to a delightful blast from the past, complete with nostalgic costumes, backdrops, references, and background music (The Carpenters, anyone?) that scream ’70s.

Because This Is My  First Life

Because This Is My First Life

What happens when two oddballs decide living together as a fake married couple? Laughter and angst ensue, apparently. Stoic mobile app designer Se Hee (Lee Min Ki) and homeless scriptwriter Ji Ho (Jung So Min) thought marrying each other would be the answer to their personal crises. One has an exorbitant house loan to pay, while the other is finding an ideal place to stay. Living together under a tenancy contract should be easy, they reckon, after all, they’re not in love with each other – or are they?

Joined by an equally colorful set of characters like the smart and sassy Sooji (Esom), romantic CEO Sang Goo (Park Byung Eun), manipulative girlfriend Ho Rang (Kim Ga Eun), and aspiring businessman Won Seok (Kim Min Seok), Se Hee and Ji Ho start to realize that they are finally entering a chapter in their 30s with more than what they bargained for.

It’s not everyday you come across a K-Drama that’s so beautifully written, it would be impossible for you to drop it. That’s “Because This Is My First Life.” Replete with quotes to live by, moments that strike a chord, and fearless takes on various aspects of life, it carefully weaves the contrasting personalities of realistic characters with realistic issues, bringing forth the ultimate slice-of-life story that’s not only for those struggling in their 30s, but for anybody who watches it. Really, do yourself a favor and check out this show. You can thank me later.

Written by Krew member Andy Flores

IPONING 101: The K-Pop Stan’s Guide to Saving Up

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“I-announce niyo na yung ticket prices, please, para makapag-ipon na ko!”

“Ang lapit naman ng ticket selling! ‘Di pa ko nakaka-ipon! T.T”

“Ang mahal naman! Wala pa ‘kong pera!!!”

Do these sound familiar? You must have cried something similar at least once in your life as a fan, and I could totally relate!

Being a K-Pop stan is costly. This is something I learned the hard way when I entered the fandom a little over a year ago with a decent account balance, only to feel as though I’ve gone bankrupt a few months later with more artist merchandise than money in my possession.

True enough, it’s all fun and exciting until you realize that you pretty much have nothing left to spend for more important things and – well, let’s all be honest here – more K-Pop. So what’s the right thing for a fan to do? Iponing, of course!

Saving up has since become more than just a habit to me; it’s a lifestyle, as it should be for you. After all, how else would you fund that gorgeous comeback album or that much-coveted concert ticket? If you’ve got better ideas, let me know. But for now, here are some tips on mindful saving and spending for K-Pop fans:

Don’t wait. Just start.
There’s no better time to start saving up than NOW. Even though it has not been announced that your favorite group is coming to the country or that they will be releasing a new album soon, it would be smart of you to grow your fandom fund as early as now, so when the time comes, you wouldn’t have to worry about not being able to afford joining a group order or being part of #TeamBahay – slash – #TeamLabas.

Set a goal
All of us have something we want to save up for, and for fans, it’s most likely a concert, a comeback album, or a dream trip to the mecca of K-Pop and K-Dramas, South Korea.

Now, think about what yours is and focus on that goal. Make a rough estimate of the price that comes with it, then use it as your target. It may seem tough to achieve at first, but not impossible. You’ll feel much more motivated to save up if you have a definite goal in mind.

Decide on where to keep your savings
So is it the old school glass jar or cutesy piggy bank for you? Whatever you choose, know that deciding on where to keep your savings is crucial. Make sure it’s accessible and convenient yet secured.

Personally, I prefer keeping my savings in the bank. I have an account that I maintain to fund my wants and wants only, which includes my K-Pop splurges. This prevents me from touching the amount I have in my actual savings account, which I consider strictly off-limits.

Compromise, not sacrifice.
They say a bit of sacrifice goes a long way. But don’t you think “sacrifice” is too dramatic a word? If anything, it makes the whole idea of saving up more daunting! So I say compromise – not sacrifice.

How? Well, there are “little” things you spend on daily that you can get through more cost-efficient means. Start keeping track of your expenses, and check which items you can cut back on or, better yet, ultimately stop paying for.

For instance, instead of buying coffee at your favorite café, why not just make your own brew at home? Ever considered bringing packed (and healthier) meals to school or work? How about bringing your own bottle of water or snacks to curb those sudden cravings?

While the small stuff you spend on may not be that noticeable in your everyday spending pattern, such expenses add up in the long run. Think about it, if you get your caffeine fix for P120 every weekday for six months, that amounts to P15,480, which is more than enough to cover an SVIP ticket to your favorite group’s concert, or, maybe, even a roundrip ticket to Korea!

Control
Control is a word I find synonymous to discipline, and saving money requires a lot of it.

Before you buy anything – and I mean anything – hold a mental debate whether or not you need it. If you hesitate even just a bit before saying yes, then, perhaps, it’s more of a want than a need, and you’re better off not buying it at the time being.

There are a lot of purchases I made in the past that I totally regret now. So save yourself the guilt, and just give up on that item you know wouldn’t come in handy in the near future.

Put your skills and free time to good use
Earning some extra on the side helps A LOT. It doesn’t matter how old you are. If you’ve got skills you know you can use to earn money, make good use of them.

For instance, if you have a proclivity for making fan art, then why not sell some unofficial merch? A friend of mine, who has a good hand in graphic design, produced bags, coin purses, and banners  – all printed with a design she made – to sell in time for a boy group’s then-upcoming concert. She did it out of fun, so she was really taken by surprise when the items sold out quicker than expected. She even had to make another batch to meet the demand!

What’s great about this is that you get to make money while doing something you enjoy (hone your skills even!), and that in itself is already gratifying.

Learn to let go
When I started my K-Pop collection, I thought I will never part with any of the items I’ve got. Albums, posters, magazines – name it, I probably have it. Or at some point, I did, because I’ve sold some of them now.

Yes. I hear you. How could I?

To be honest, it took me a while before I decided to put some of the merch I had on sale. I had a hard time acquiring them, they cost a lot, and they reminded me of the good ol’ times when I was head over heels in love with the artists they feature. But the thing is, they just take up space. I touched most of them only once, and that was when I took them out of their packaging. Some even remained unopened!

It then occured to me that, perhaps, they’re better off with other fans, who would actually use them and not just stash them, away and out of sight. So I took pictures of the items, posted them on Twitter and various K-Pop buy-and-sell groups on Facebook, and waited for interested buyers.

While I didn’t get the same amount I bought the items for, I got part of my money back, made some fans happy, and cleared a bit of space for future (hopefully useful) purchases.

Take care of yourself.
You might find this a strange tip to include on this list, but hear me out: No matter how tight things can get, you have to take care of yourself first and foremost.

If you think skipping meals or stressing yourself by working overtime regularly is the answer to your money woes, you’re wrong. You’re only making things worse for yourself, and the last thing you’d want to spend on are hospital fees and medication. So no matter how cliché the saying “health is wealth” is, believe in it.

Find ways to make saving up fun
Saving up isn’t exactly the most exciting phrase out there, so why not spice up your game with money challenges that will make saving money more fun for you? From saving an amount in increments to saving a particular Peso bill, there are several challenges that financial advisors highly recommend and swear by. Feel free to look them up online, choose what you think is the most doable for you, and jump right into it!

So that’s pretty much it! I know that tips are easier said than done, but trust me when I say that your hard work will pay off, and once you achieve your goal, it would be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have.


Written by Krew member Andy Flores

Easy K-Pop-Inspired Outfits You and Your Squad Can Rock This Halloween

Ghoulish shop window displays… an overstock of sweets at the supermarket… horror movie marathons scheduled to air on tv – there’s no denying that Halloween is upon us! And as the party invites and announcements pour in, most of us are left with a huge, almost debilitating question: What should I wear?

Well, if you and your friends are loud and proud K-Pop fans, this is a dilemma you shouldn’t even be dealing with! Go all out and make a grand entrance at your school or office party, channeling your favorite idols! After all, this season is no longer limited to dressing up in terrifying costumes (I came across a taco suit and a Cup Noodles costume just now, and they’re everything but scary).

SHINee - Halloween

To help you decide, we rounded up some fun K-Pop-inspired “costumes” that you and your squad can rock this Halloween, without fussing over complicated ensembles or looking a bit ~too~ casual.

Trust us when we say that these outfits are so easy to put together, you might even have some of the pieces in your wardrobe!

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“Cheer Up”
Inspired by: Twice

A pack of peppy cheerleaders sporting “uniforms” in contrasting hues of yellow and purple, Twice shows their school spirit, exuding a fun and youthful vibe for “Cheer Up.”

TWICE - Cheer Up

Outfit Essentials
-Black sports bra
-Purple varsity jacket with white sleeves
-Stretchy high-waisted black shorts
-Sneakers (Twice wore Nike Dunk Hi 08 shoes, but you can go for any comfy sneakers that look similar)
-Vintage tube socks in black, white, yellow, or purple
-Snapback cap
-Pink pompoms (to bring on the cheer, of course!)

f(x)_Red Light

“Rebelles
Inspired by: f(x)

Not a fan of perky cheerleaders? Perhaps, you’d like to go for an edgier look like what f(x) rocked in “Red Light.” An interesting play of textures in dark and muted tones, their getup will surely unleash the rebel in you.

f(x) - Rebelles

Outfit Essentials
-Distressed t-shirt cut-offs
-Black camisole
-Crop top/bustier
-Distressed dark denim shorts
-Camouflage shorts
-High-waisted black shorts
-Black tights/fishnet stockings/knee-high socks
-Wide-brimmed black flat top hat
-Net arm sleeves/fingerless gloves
-Combat boots/strappy platform sandals

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“Retro Chic”
Inspired by: Wonder Girls

Wonder Girls are hands down the queens of retro in the K-Pop world. Pulling off the fashion (and sound) of the yesteryears so effortlessly, they’re the perfect group to draw some inspo from when it comes to donning the vintage look.

Wonder Girls - Retro Chic

Outfit Essentials
-Sheath dress with bold patterns (either long or short-sleeved)
-Solid-colored tights
-Solid-colored high-heel shoes
-Hoop/dangling geometric earrings in bright colors

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“Scoot Away”
Inspired by: Crayon Pop

Call their costumes silly, but since Crayon Pop’s quirkiness received a nod of approval from Mother Monster Lady Gaga herself, there’s nothing much left to argue about here. Just like what their group’s name suggests, Crayon Pop’s “Bar Bar Bar” outfits come in cheery bursts of color that will make you and your friends stand out in the party.

Crayon Pop - Scoot Away

Outfit Essentials
-Bright-colored track jacket
-Matching track shorts
-Black tights
-White sneakers
-White gloves
-Scooter helmet (you CAN’T miss the most iconic piece in their getup!)

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“Old-School Charmers”
Inspired by: SEVENTEEN

A great example of “not too complicated or too casual,” SEVENTEEN’s “Aju Nice” costumes are as charming and playful as the funky track they’re assembled for. Needless to say, this is best worn with your pack of bros.

SEVENTEEN - Old-School Charmers

Outfit Essentials
-Long-sleeved button-up white shirt/white graphic tee
-Black slacks/denim jeans
-Red/black suspenders
-White socks
-Black and white Oxfords/black sneakers

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“Galactic Rangers”
Inspired by: EXO

We saw EXO on a mission in a galactic wasteland, battling a robot that took away their supernatural abilities  in “Power,” which is arguably the group’s most rollicking music video yet. Veering away from their usually chic and sexy styles, they went for military-themed outfits.

EXO - Galactic Rangers

Outfit Essentials
-Camouflage/black/olive green bomber jackets
-Plain black/black and white checked t-shirt
-Cargo pants/distressed jeans/black jeans
-Combat boots/sneakers
-Tactical harness and goggles
-Black cadet cap
-Prop toy guns (believe it or not, EXO used customized Nerf guns in the MV)

SHINee_Married To The Music

“Odd Party”
Inspired by: SHINee

No K-Pop music video screams “Halloween party” quite like SHINee’s “Married to the Music.” Known for their unique and fashion-forward concepts, the quintet stepped up their game in their summer 2015 release, which turned out to be a surprisingly macabre MV, reminiscent of the 1975 cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

SHINee - Odd Party

Outfit Essentials
-Bright-colored jacket/blazer (feel free to accentuate it with patches)
-Heavily-printed/graphic tee
-Distressed jeans/bright-colored dress pants
-Lace-up black shoes/combat boots
-Vintage socks
-Animal print snapback cap
-Scarf/sweatband (to be worn on the forehead)
-Dark-rimmed glasses
-Prop skeleton hand or wooden hand model (to be placed in pockets, with phalanges peeking)

Got anything else to add? Sound off in the comments!

Written by Krew member Andy Flores

Diamond Edge: SEVENTEEN Stuns, Dazzles Manila

The first time I wrote a blog post here about SEVENTEEN, I struggled because I barely knew them. It was a little over a year ago, and they came to the Philippines for their two-day Shining Diamonds fan meeting. My main concern back then was getting the members’ names and the song titles right. Now, having just attended Diamond Edge in Manila over the weekend, I’m struggling to even start this entry, because I already love them too much!

About a thousand thoughts are running in my head as I write this: How am I supposed to put my love and pride for the thirteen talented boys into words? How should I tell you about my experience, which, in all honesty, still feels like a dream? Did Diamond Edge in Manila actually happen??? I wish I had answers, but all I have are fragmented memories of the concert and fancams that are as unstable as my fangirl mental state right now.

DE_MNL_Bongbongie

The Manila leg of SEVENTEEN’s Diamond Edge world tour is an exceptionally special one. Not only did Carats – fans of the group – celebrate the anniversary of the announcement of the fandom’s official colors (rose quartz and serenity, in case you’re wondering), SEVENTEEN also concluded their first world tour in the city.

A three-month-long series of concerts that took the group to a total of 14 cities in 12 countries across three continents, Diamond Edge finally came to an end, with thousands of Carats witnessing it in Manila last 6 October at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Clad in bright-colored suits that matched their strikingly stellar visuals, SEVENTEEN – complete on the Philippine stage for the first time – kicked off the show with a remixed version of “Pretty U”, followed by “Beautiful” and “Adore U.” Their youthful vibe pulsed throughout the venue, putting the audience on their toes in excitement.

Receiving a warm welcome from their Filipino Carats, SEVENTEEN, who are affectionately called SVT or “sebong“, took turns to introduce themselves, and each member was met with a frenzy of eager screams and applause.

I could still remember their aegyo-filled introductions in last year’s Shining Diamonds tour, with Mingyu’s “Hello! Ako si Mingyu!” making a mark on me. This concert, however, it was DK’s crisp and clear à la announcer “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Diamond Edge! I’m DK!” that stole the scene for me. That guy is just so… extra!

It wasn’t too long until SEVENTEEN went back on full-performance mode, bouncing on the stage to another medley, including the crowd favorite “Aju Nice” (sans their iconic suspenders) – a funky tune that got everyone dancing with them.

In a true SVT fashion, the group – now sporting school uniforms in a faux classroom setting – barely gave Carats a moment to chill, as they pumped the arena with adrenaline through kinetic performances of “Mansae” and “Boom Boom”.

SEVENTEEN, who are known for their variety skills, once again proved their novel antics at the concert. Performance Team leader Hoshi and maknae Dino got playful and impersonated each other. Dino also mimicked his idol Michael Jackson, showing off some slick dance moves popularized by the King of Pop.

The Hiphop Team also treated the audience to an impromptu performance of their recent track “Trauma,” a soulful and laid-back rap song that came off slightly comical at the concert after the members jokingly imitated Wonwoo’s gestures in the music video.

The unit stages, were, of course, show-stopping.

Hoshi, Dino, Jun, and The8 of the Performance Team showed their fun and quirky side through “Swimming Fool”, set the stage on fire (literally) with “OMG”, then electrified the audience with the heart-thumping “Highlight.”

The Hiphop Subunit, composed of S.Coups, Mingyu, Vernon, and Wonwoo drove the audience wild with “Check-In”, but not before bringing the house (or should I say arena?) down with “언행일치” (“Un Haeng Il Chi”). They also displayed maturity in their “If I” number, which turned out to be surprisingly sexy in all its simplicity (I kinda blame their red outfits for the unexpected attack).

Speaking of sexy, let me just say that Jun and The8’s “My I” stage was beyond words hot! Dancing with a ribbon linking their wrists, they personified A-R-T onstage through their fluid movements and their innocent yet sensual expressions. I have to admit that it’s one of the best live K-Pop performances I have ever seen, and, ironically, it’s done by SEVENTEEN’s China-line!

I’m vocal team-biased, so you could just guess how long I had been looking forward to their stages. The boys, as expected, did not disappoint. “Habit” and “We Gonna Make It Shine” were sweet and smooth like honey, but it was “Don’t Listen In Secret” that snatched my heart.

The superb vocals of Joshua, Jeonghan, and Woozi, coupled with the high notes that Seungkwan and DK flawlessly held, made it one of my favorite performances of the night.

Time passed quicker than we thought, and before we knew it, we were down to the final stages of the tour.

SEVENTEEN’s performance of their latest title track “Don’t Wanna Cry” was nothing short of breathtaking to watch. It was beautiful in every sense of the word. On-point vocals, raw emotions, faultless choreography… it is arguably the group’s finest live stage to date.

SEVENTEEN gave Diamond Edge a light and refreshing finish with “Healing.” As the boys sang their final song for the night, Carats threw pink and blue paper planes carrying heartfelt messages to the members towards the stage, a repeat of their fan project at last year’s Shining Diamonds fan meeting.

Wrapping up the show, all thirteen members gathered at the center of the stage to give their thanks to everyone who came and continue to support them.

Vernon called the Manila crowd “amazing”; The8 promised fans “we will meet again”; and S.Coups, who was obviously emotional at that point, fought back his tears as he sincerely expressed gratitude to everyone who made their first world tour possible, requesting the staff to “take care of our Carats.” He then said to their fans, “If you promise to stand by us, we promise to stand by your side.” (I’m not crying. Nope. Not at all!)

After taking a few more selcas with the Carats’ rose quartz and serenity ocean in the background, SEVENTEEN gave their final bows and waved the audience goodbye for now.

DE_MNL_Bow

When I first saw SEVENTEEN, they were impressionable rookies in the K-Pop scene no more than 21 years old. Now, exuding undeniable charisma, pure confidence, and high-octane energy, they ruled the stage like seasoned idols, performing hit after hit in full coordination with outstanding vocals and incredibly synchronized choreography – no less.

They sure still have a long way to trudge in the extremely competitive industry that is Korean pop music, but with their indisputable passion, the fresh and unique tunes they keep churning, and their love for their fans, it’s safe to say that they’ll be sticking around for a long time, and Carats will most definitely be there to support them every step of the way.

Till we meet again, SEVENTEEN.

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Written by Krew member Andy Flores

Gastronomic Fun and Culinary Creativity Rule at the 2017 Global Taste of Korea

The Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines (KCC) has yet again wrapped up another delicious affair: The Global Taste of Korea 2017.

Held at the Lyceum Philippines University (LPU) Culinary Institute last Saturday, 29 July, the most-anticipated Korean gastronomic event in the country attracted hundreds upon hundreds of avid foodies of all ages.

Now on its fourth year, the goal of Global Taste of Korea remains the same: To offer Filipinos a bite of Korean culinary culture for an entire day through fun, interactive, and educational platforms. And with the growing number of Filipinos taking interest in Korean cuisine, as seen on popular films and dramas, the annual celebration of Korean flavors has never been busier.

A variety of booths lined the 4th level hallway of LPU’s Culinary Institute, ensuring that every guest experiences Korea in a local and cost-free setting.

The Korea Tourism Organization in Manila (KTO) handed out free posters and guide books to anyone who wishes to visit the Land of the Morning Calm, while food booths gave away unlimited helpings of staple Korean snacks and side dishes such as kimchi, ramyeon, and dumplings.

Eager visitors also had the opportunity to don the hanbok, the traditional Korean costume. Gamely posing for pictures, they looked like character pulled straight from a sageuk.

Setting an avenue for a deeper understanding of Korean cuisine, KCC organized cooking workshops for attendees who want to learn more about the history and basic how-tos of Korean cooking. At the end of the workshops, the attendees were able to prepare kimchi and bulgogi, marinated slices of meat that are either grilled or stir-fried.

But perhaps, the most exciting part of this year’s Global Taste of Korea is the cooking competition. Divided into two categories, Kimchi Battle and Freestyle Korean Cooking, a total of 22 cooks took the challenge to be hailed as this year’s best Korean cook.

Betina Erika Lim’s winning dish for the Kimchi Battle Category: Kimchi Chicken Quesadilla

From Left: Lyceum of the Philippines Culinary Director Chef Christopher Bautista, Kimchi Battle grand prize winner Betina Erika Lim, and  KCC Director LEE Jincheol

For the Kimchi Battle, Betina Erika Lim bagged first prize with her Kimchi Chicken Quesadilla, which she fashioned to look like the Taegeukgi or the Korean Flag. Airose Caloobanan (Beef Sinigang with Kimchi) and Angeli Mae Sapno (Steamed Kimchi Pork Buns) also proved to be the judges’ picks, as they received the second and third prize, respectively.

Regine Monsanto’s version of Dwaejigalbi-jjim or Korean-style braised pork ribs

The Freestyle Korean Cooking was a bit more intense, as 11 cooks heated up the kitchen with their own renditions of Korean favorites. Taking the third prize is Amiel Santos, who put a modern twist to the classic bibimbap. Hazel Quiamas got creative with her take on japchae, which she stuffed in a while pan-fried chicken, and took the second prize.

From Left: KTO Director Park In-Shik, Freestyle Korean cooking grand prize winner and Best Korean Cook Regine Monsanto, and KCC Director LEE Jincheol

Besting all 11 contestants is Marianne Regine Monsanto, a 28-year-old cook, who has been joining the Global Taste of Korea’s cooking competition since its first year. She won the judges’ palates with her version of the braised pork rib dish dwaejigalbi-jjim. She is also named as this year’s Best Korean Cook. Aside from the cash prize she will be taking home, Monsanto is also awarded with a roundtrip ticket to Korea, courtesy of KTO Manila.

The day ended on a high note as the auditorium erupted in happy tears and exchanges of congratulatory messages. With this, the guests and contestants alike look forward to another exciting Global Taste of Korea event next year.

Written by Krew member Andy Flores

6 Korean Travel Variety Shows to Binge-Watch This Summer

It’s summer!

For almost everyone, summer is pretty much synonymous to hitting the beach, throwing pool parties for the fam or the entire barkada, or traveling overseas to catch a cool breeze or bask under the heat of the sun even more.

But for me, a total homebody who prefers staying in the comforts of her home over posing for Insta-worthy sunny season pics, summer is all about binge-watching and catching up on TV shows I missed – that is, of course, whenever I’m not dragged to a trip by relatives or friends.

My guilty pleasure? Korean travel variety shows.

Unlike typical travel programs you see on TV that will simply sweep you across a certain city or country – throwing in facts and tips here and there as the host samples local fare or joins in some loud festival – Korean travel variety shows are not just informative but also extremely entertaining. I’m talking about wacky missions and tons of excitement topped with lots and lots of laughter here!

Indeed, watching K-Celebs exploring a new place abroad or featuring Korea’s lesser-known destinations in these incredibly addictive shows is an experience in its own, and if you’re curious enough to check out one for yourself during your free time, here are six Korean travel variety shows that will give you some good laughs and serious #TravelGoals:

One Fine Day

 photo ofd13cb_zpsyoeifoxw.pngThe survival skills of SEVENTEEN are put to a test on “One Fine Day: 13 Castaway Boys”

MBC Music’s “One Fine Day” (OFD) goes all out in treating your favorite idols to themed trips. In the earlier seasons, OFD is mainly about giving overworked idols a vacation they deserve, but now, each trip almost always comes with a catch.

Among my favorite guests of this show are the boys of SEVENTEEN. In One Fine Day, which was renamed as “13 Castaway Boys” just for them, the group’s survival skills were put to a test as they were marooned on the island of Yeoseo in the southern tip of South Korea, with nothing but a plastic bag packed with items they deemed as their “needs.” Their teamwork, funny antics, and charm in variety probably helped them score another OFD season, the currently-running SEVENTEEN’s One Fine Day in Japan.

Also check out: SHINee Surprise Vacation (Onew in Thailand, Jonghyun in Japan, Key and Minho in England, and Taemin in Switzerland), AOA’s Hainan Getaway, VIXX’s One Fine Day in Jeju, Super Junior’s One Fine Day in Switzerland, and G-Friend’s Variety Training in Cebu

Battle Trip

 photo battletrip_zpsimux3sa8.jpgSandara Park and Hyoni exploring the Philippine islands for “Battle Trip”

Some time last year, there was a fuss around my workplace in Bonifacio Global City. Apparently, Sandara Park was shooting a segment at a restaurant nearby for KBS travel show called “Battle Trip.”

Curious, I checked the show after it aired, and got hooked by its simple yet fresh concept: MCs divide into teams and go on an adventure in exciting destinations. Upon returning to Korea, they will then come together in the studio to talk about their experiences and decide on which team has had the better trip.

While Sandara and her travel buddy Kang Hyoni’s course called “Dara Tour” initially lost to actor-director Kim Min Gyo’s Pattaya, Thailand escapade, she didn’t fail in showcasing the beauty of the Philippines, even defending the country as a safe place to travel for foreigners.

1 Night 2 Days

 photo 1night2days_zpskmglosmw.jpgThe cast of “1 Night 2 Days” smile for a selcawith their special guests as they filmed the “Handsome Men Winter Camp” episode

This 10-year-old show is one of the longest-running travel-themed programs on air.

Staying true to its motto “real wild road variety”, the 1 Night 2 Days or 1N2D cast members Kim Jong-min, Cha Tae-hyun, Kim Joon-ho, Defconn, Yoon Shi-yoon, and Jung Joon-young embark on different trips throughout South Korea per episode all the while performing a slew of obscure missions to earn rewards (that will make their trip more comfortable)and avoid punishments.

Idol groups like Infinite, APink, and Twice, as well as celebrities like Park Bo Gum, Park Seo Jun, and Han Hyo Joo have graced 1N2D.

New Journey to the West

 photo newjourneytothewest_zps8e1ltym5.jpegThe original cast of “New Journey To The West”

Inspired by the classic Chinese novel “Journey to the West”, this rollicking travel-reality program follows personalities like Lee Seung-gi, Kang Ho-dong, Eun Ji-won, Lee Su-geun, Ahn Jae-hyun, Kyuhyun, and Mino on a backpacking trip across Xi’an, China.

To make things interesting, the cast portrays characters drawn from the original novel, and together, on their trip of 5 days and 4 nights, they take on a string of games that will send you into fits and fits of laughter.

Youth Over Flowers

 photo youthoverflowers_zpslxjt18te.jpgJung Sang-hoon, Jung Woo, Jo Jung Suk, and Kang ha Neul *chilling* in Iceland

Getting kidnapped has never been this fun.

In “Youth Over Flowers”, celebrities are taken to a far-flung country without prior notice, rendering them completely unprepared for the trip. Every season, the cast spends about a week or so in their destination, filling their time with a number of activities that they planned on their own or have to do for the show.

Among this program’s most notable guests are actors Park Bo Gum, Kang Ha Neul, Jo Jung Suk, and idol group B1A4’s Baro.

Exciting India

 photo flutteringindia_zpsjfgmun1u.jpgClad in traditional Indian kurtas SHINee’s Minho, Super Junior’s Kyuhyun, EXO’s Suho, Infinite’s Sunggyu, and CNBLUE’s Jonghyun pose for a photo in front of the historic Gateway of India

So, what happens when you send five of K-Pop’s biggest stars to a country where very few people know who they are? “Exciting India” has the answer.

In this 4-episode KBS World special, Super Junior’s evil maknae Kyuhyun, Infinite’s leader Sunggyu, CNBLUE’s lead guitarist Jonghyun, EXO’s leader Suho, and SHINee’s main rapper Minho are flown to India as KBS’s newsroom correspondents to create a full-length report on how K-Pop is perceived in the South Asian sub-continent.

Setting forth as men with a mission (well, they look more like university students doing a group project), they scour the city of Mumbai – from the historic Gateway of India, to the cosmopolitan shopping district, to the slums of Dharavi – immersing themselves in the rich Indian culture as they gathered facts, overcame language barrier, and learned the ups and downs of journalism.

Written by The Krew member Andy Flores