MANILA, Philippines - DJ, TV personality and food blogger Sam Oh has become a "staple" in Filipino pop culture that we forget she — like Grace Lee — is 100% Korean.
Therefore, Sam — whose Korean name is Oh Sang Mi — is also fluent in Hanguk aka the Korean language.
She was the fitting choice to host the press and fan events of Korean star Lee Min Ho, who is in Manila for a 3-day meet-and-greet with fans that ends tonight at the SM Mall of Asia.
Rappler caught up with Sam (who moved to Manila when she was 10 years old, hence the Filipino language fluency) and asked a few questions about what it's like to be working with Lee Min Ho and what he's like behind the scenes:
1) How did you get the stint to be Lee Min Ho's interpreter and official event host?
Sam Oh: I'm not his official interpreter. :) They flew in two interpreters from Korea and they're part of his entourage. But since I'm hosting the events and he doesn't speak English, I interpret na rin.
2) How does it feel to be working with him?
Sam Oh: I knew about it about a month prior to his arrival and I was equal parts nervous and excited the whole time. He's a huuuge (sic) star and Bench is a huge brand as well so I was feeling the pressure.
Now that the press conference and fan meet are over, I just find myself having fun and feeling kinda sad that it will be over soon. I feel very honored and priveleged to be part of it.
3) There are fans who are surprised that Lee Min Ho doesn't know how to speak English. May you give us your two cents on why this is so?
Sam Oh: After hosting two of his events and interpreting for him in two interviews, I have an inkling he understands and speaks English more than we think. If you follow him on Twitter, you'll see he tweets in English sometimes.
But then again, someone might be helping him with the tweets.
4) What's he like backstage?
Sam Oh: I haven't really had a candid moment with him. The events so far have been orchestrated in such a way that it will start as he is coming out of his holding area or coming down from his hotel room.
The closest thing to down time I had with him was between one-on-one interviews. He's pretty chill.
5) His roles have always been serious, dark and tough. Is there a fun and wacky side his fans have yet so see?
Sam Oh: I find that he's really nothing like the roles he has played so far. I find him to be nice, sincere and even child-like at times.
Like during the fan meet, there was a portion where he had to take part in a staring contest with a fan (first one to blink or look away loses) and he won. He was so happy, like a little kid!
He also laughs easily. During an interview I interpreted for him, he thought it was funny how I asked him a particular question (some hand gesture I did, apparently) and he started giggling and said, "That's so funny."
Bear in mind that this was my first encounter with him and was very nervous but having him laugh like that broke the ice for me. I felt much more at ease with him since. He's really pretty relaxed.
I was also pleasantly surprised with how he was during the fan meet. He wanted to ask the audience questions, spin the roulette with the fans (part of a game) when he didn't have to, hug them for photo ops.
It was also really nice how he wanted to take a picture with the whole audience at the end of the fan meet. None of this was in the program, it was all him.
6) What kind of food does he like to eat?
Sam Oh: Apparently, he really likes his mom's cooking and usually requests for her to make "chigae" which is a Korean stew.
During the fan meet, he was asked what Filipino food he would like to try and he asked the question back to the fans asking what he should try. He handpicked a fan from the audience and she suggested he try adobo.
He went to a Filipino restaurant that night and had adobo. He tweeted a photo and everything! So endearing. :)
7) What was your first impression of Lee Min Ho? What can you tell his fans about him?
Sam Oh: Physically, I was struck by how tall and lean he was. He's a little over 6 feet tall and very model-esque.
Personality-wise, I was half-expecting him to be uptight and maybe even stuck up but he isn't like that at all. Despite his status in the showbiz industry, he seems to be a really simple guy who'd rather stay home with a good movie or a computer game than party it up in the clubs.
Most importantly, I really felt that he sincerely wants to make his fans happy and in this process I have become a fan myself.