MANILA — South Korean actor Lee Jae-wook used to imagine himself traveling to different places to meet his fans. But since the start of the year, the star of the hit fantasy-period drama "Alchemy of Souls" has been turning that dream into a reality.
"I'm a relatively new actor in the scene right now and this scenario right now is something that I only imagined for myself," Lee said at a press conference for his recent fan meet in the Philippines, with TV host Sam Oh serving as his interpreter.
"I'm so thankful to the fans who made this a reality," he said.
Lee added that the Philippines "is a country where I'm receiving a lot of love from so I'm very, very grateful for that."
The event, organized by local events producer Wilbros Live, is part of Lee's first Asia fan meeting tour, which kicked off in Seoul last January and made stops in Japan, China, Thailand and Indonesia.
The 24-year-old actor attributed his rise to prominence to his latest project, "Alchemy of Souls," which wrapped up its second season earlier this year.
"I think the reason why I'm here is because of the role of Jang-uk in 'Alchemy of Souls.' It's really what enabled me to even tour in Asia," Lee said.
"It's a character that has become very close to my heart so that's the role that's most memorable for me," he added.
The two-part series, which can be streamed on Netflix, follows an elite warrior whose soul is accidentally transferred into the body of a blind girl. She later becomes a servant of a noble family, which includes Lee's character Jang-uk.
Asked about what he missed the most about playing Jang-uk, Lee said, "It's the warmth [and passion] of the set."
"My castmates and the people I worked with on the show really became like family, because we were together for about a year," he said.
Getting into acting
Prior to entering the entertainment industry, Lee had taken on other jobs that he easily lost interest in. A desire for new experiences, he said, prompted him to venture into acting.
"I love working but I would get very tired of a job quickly and easily. So at some point I asked myself, 'What job can I possibly do?'" Lee recounted.
"Then I thought of working as an actor because I'd get to play different roles all the time so it's like I'm doing different things all the time," he added.
Lee then studied the craft and debuted in 2018 with a supporting role in the popular sci-fi romance drama "Memories of the Alhambra."
He steadily gained popularity through his succeeding roles in the romance series "Search: WWW" and "Extraordinary You," and bagged his first lead role in the 2020 drama "Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol."
For his future projects, Lee wants to portray "stronger and more complex" characters, the actor shared.
Lee also enjoys listening to music, with three K-pop artists on rotation in his playlists lately.
"In South Korea, there's a big boom because of the [girl] group NewJeans so I'm listening to them a lot," he said when asked about his travel playlist for his Asia tour.
He named girl group Blackpink and his "Alchemy of Souls" co-star Hwang Min-hyun as his other favorite acts.
Lee is also a lover of vacation spots. But because his recent stay in the country was short, the actor looks forward to coming back to experience the famed beaches.
"[I'd like to visit] Boracay. Even in Korea, in those programs where they feature beautiful places around the world, Boracay is always included in those programs. I'd love to go there and I look forward to visiting," he said.
For more news and features on K-pop, K-drama, and K-stars, visit the Hallyu Corner microsite.