MANILA — “I will steal all your hearts today,” Kim Sejeong told the audience at the start of her recent concert here.
Such a declaration, however, seemed unnecessary because from the moment the 27-year-old K-pop and K-drama star stepped on the stage, the shrieks from the crowd that filled the New Frontier Theater made it apparent that she had everyone under her spell.
Sejeong opened the local stop of her “The 門 (Door)” tour with the nostalgic “Whale,” backed by a dreamy digital backdrop that included a floating whale. She immediately followed it up with “Destiny.”
After the opening set, Sejeong removed her in-ear, her jaw dropping upon hearing the screams from passionate Sesangs, her fan base which takes its name from the Korean word for “world.”
“The crowd is so intense now. Your cheers are so loud,” she said through an interpreter.
With her natural charm, Sejeong had the audience enamored throughout the nearly three-hour show, presented by Wilbros Live. Her radiant smile, frequent chats with the crowd and “aegyo” (baby talk and cute gestures) melted the hearts of concertgoers, with some abruptly shouting “saranghae” (“I love you” in Korean) at the singer and occasionally remarking, “Ang cute niya!” (She’s so cute).
Sejeong previously went to the Philippines in 2016, performing as a member of the now-disbanded girl group Gugudan.
While the past years have seen Sejeong rise in popularity as an actress, the concert saw her return to her K-pop roots, allowing her to showcase her distinctly raspy timbre alongside a variety of styles like ballad, mid-tempo pop and folk rock.
The no-frills show was also a refreshing departure from the bombastic productions seen in most K-pop concerts, all the more to put Sejeong’s heartfelt singing at the center of the performances.
Accompanied by backup dancers, Sejeong performed the sprightly “Voyage” and dramatic R&B “Top or Cliff” — the two singles off her recent album “Door,” where the concert tour takes its title from. In “Warning,” she took over the rap verse originally delivered by Korean rapper Lil Boi.
Seated on a chair, she seamlessly shifted between the tender and powerful moments of “Plant,” and breezed through the climactic high note of “Flower Way.”
In between numbers, Sejeong talked about how she wrote her songs. After serenading the crowd with “Teddy Bear” and “Indigo Promise,” for instance, she confessed to frequently writing songs at night.
“If you listen to many of my songs, they [often] have night backgrounds. The first reason is I often write songs at night. [The] second [reason] is because I love the word ‘dream’ and we dream at night,” she shared.
Sejeong also dedicated a section for the original soundtracks (OST) that she recorded for K-dramas, including “Meet Again” from “The Uncanny Counter,” “If Only” from “The Legend of the Blue Sea” and “All of My Days” from “Crash Landing On You.” The crowd sang along as she capped the set with “Love, Maybe” from the hit romantic comedy “Business Proposal.”
“It was such an honor to sing the OST for the works I've acted in,” she said, referring to “The Uncanny Counter” and “Business Proposal.”
“Acting became something that cannot be really removed in my life. When I do acting, there are new songs written also and when I sing, there are new characters that build in myself as well,” she said.
During the encore, Sejeong teared up after watching a video showing messages from her Filipino supporters. The audience attempted to cheer her up by chanting “uljima” (Korean for “don’t cry).
“You made that video to make me cry but why are you telling me not to cry?” she responded in jest.
“Through this video, you have shown how happy you were tonight,” Sejeong said. “Even though I'm far away, thank you so much for loving me just like a person that's always beside you.”
Sejeong concluded the evening with a song fittingly titled “Let’s Go Home,” during which she went down from the stage to get up close and personal with fans, indulging requests for selfies and hand hearts.
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