Kim Jong Kook is a household name among the thousands of people who are avid fans of the hit Korean variety show, Running Man. His single-minded ferocity and wits in the show has earned him several nicknames, notably Sparta Kook. While his Running Man persona has earned him fans from segments of people who are not necessarily from the community of Kpop music fans, Kim Jong Kook is a veteran in the industry, having been, most memorably, a part of a two-man band, Turbo, and churned out many hit songs when he made his way in the industry as a solo artiste. Prior to being known as Sparta Kook, Jong Kook was, and still is very much known as the muscle man with the mosquito voice, his voice unbelievably sweet as he delivers the romantic ballads that he is known for.
It was thus a treat for those present at his fanmeet showcase last Saturday at the Kallang Theatre to have him not only showcase the Sparta Kook side of his persona, but also the brilliantly moving ballad singer that he is. Organized by Mode Entertainment and JK Entertainment, the fanmeet showcase was a two-hour ride of a wonderful mix of hilarious and sweet fan interaction, and the professionalism of a man of considerable experience in the entertainment industry.
Opening the showcase with his sweet vocals, the night spiraled to a fun-filled event for the fans present, with several segments prepared so that lucky fans got to interact as much as possible with Jong Kook himself. Games such as tug-of-war, chicken fight (where fans teamed up to knock Jong Kook off his feet while hopping on one leg), and mini singing competitions brought much laughter from the audience. The games prepared were definitely intended to bring the fans closer to Jong Kook, but more importantly, they showcased Jong Kook’s fun, albeit gentlemanly side when he very obviously gave in to female fans and had exclaimed that there were “too many female fans” on stage during segments that required physical activity.
In fact, Jong Kook was ever the considerate guy throughout the whole showcase, and had used English to communicate with his audience, hardly reverting to his native Korean, and hardly requiring the help of his translator. Sometimes that resulted in expressions of sincere and endearing confusion, further cementing his reputation as the gentle muscle man (when he’s not ripping name tags off opponents in Running Man like a lion, that is!). In one segment, when the winner of the games were supposed to be rewarded with a photo opportunity with him, he insisted that all the teams should be allowed to take photos with him because “they all tried really hard.” He was also full of manners when, during the tug-of-war segment, insisted that he changed places so that his behind would not be pointed to the audience.It was obvious that his fans came from all ages and walks of life, from a 6-year-old boy (whose interactions with Jong Kook stole the night, we must say!) to a man who requested that Jong Kook gave a shout-out to his wife who was sitting in the audience. Much to the amusement of everyone present, he even said to the wife, “your husband is stronger than me” because the man had won the tug-of-war against him. Such is Jong Kook’s wide appeal and the event was successfully organized to showcase that fact.
Overall Jong Kook was fun, spontaneous and very generous with his fans, and had no airs about him as he interacted with the people who have been supporting his career all this while. He was also very candid and very down-to-earth and during the tug-of-war segment could be heard spouting things like “I’ve never done this on stage before!” and insisting that he had to put on gloves because “I am human” and then sputtering somewhat indignantly, “Excuse me? What am I doing this for?” to the laughter of fans and the emcee. From the huge popularity of Running Man, we would expect that a majority of the fans present to not be familiar with Jong Kook the singer, but that was not the case at all! Avid fans of his from his Turbo days were also present, and the audience could be heard singing along to him while he sang his hit songs!We dare say that Jong Kook had fun during the showcase, and it’s all thanks to how the showcase was formatted by the organizers; there was huge focus on allowing as many fans as possible to interact with the man himself. Jong Kook mentioned how he hopes to return to Singapore (he said this city “is like a big park, there are big trees”) with the rest of the Running Man cast. We hope that by that time he hasn’t forgotten the Singlish that the emcee (who we think is hilarious, by the way!) taught him. Jong Kook definitely understood perfectly the meaning of “paiseh” when he demonstrated its use when he muttered a “Paiseh, paiseh!” after tearing the nametag off the emcee’s back when the emcee requested for him to do so. We really hope he doesn’t forget the rest of the words he was taught, which included “yandao” (handsome), “chiobu” (pretty girl) and especially not “Sotong” (a blur person), which the emcee specifically taught to use against Kwang Soo!
Our sincere thanks to Mode Entertainment for allowing us to cover this event. All photos are credited to Mode Entertainment.
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