Starbucks coffee cups in hand, Jini and Cheryl set off on the I-5 Sunday afternoon for the Park Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles to meet Hallyu star Lee Min Ho. The event, sponsored by Toyota, was a 4-hour extravaganza that began with an hour-long wait outside the hotel with excited, yet polite fans waiting patiently for doors to open. Jini and I arrived shortly after 2:00 pm. The folks at the front of line? Some had been there since 9:00 am, some since 5:00 in the morning. The doors were set to open at 3. This was a by invitation only event, 250 lucky ticket winners, their guests, a few VIPs and, of course, plenty of media.Cheryl and Jini survive L.A., the media, and the fans of Lee Min Ho.
The media frenzy began with interviews of fans waiting in line (including those without tickets trolling for guests without friends!). Since gifts were allowed, they seemed particularly interested in what fans were gifting their beloved idol. Yours truly designed and hand knit a dashing alpaca scarf . We’ll just hope Min Ho actually sees it! Lol Others were
bringing hats, college sweatshirts, etc.
Upon admittance to the event, we were handed given color-coded wristbands, our official NIF super secret agent badges and sent on three missions: Save Sohee (test drive a Camry – Jini drove), Find Solid Evidence
(Take a picture with Lee Min Ho in a photo booth) and a Code Hunt (scan a QR code to learn about Camry’s engine.) Completing the missions earned you stickers. The stickers gained you the raffle ticket needed for the prize drawings. Free sodas, juice and small pastries were served. Want to see Jini test-driving the Camry? (aka saving Sohee?) New camera – poor video, sorry! The Crystal mentioned below is also in the car with us!:
Next we were ushered to the upper level according to wristband color. Those at the front of the line had a different color from those at the back. I believe there were about 4 or 5 color sections plus a VIP section. Toyota welcomed us, presented a compilation of the “One and Only” series which was met with appropriate ooh’s, aah’s and out and out laughter.
Tension built when Lee Min Ho was finally set to take the stage. Fans were somewhat taken by surprise when he entered from the back and walked through the crowd, affording many the opportunity to shake hands with the star as he made his somewhat arduous way to the stage.
Unfortunately, the sound quality in the room was abysmal. Even with the limited size of the venue and a polite, attentive audience, it was extremely difficult to understand the questions and answers by the MC, Lee Min Ho and the interpreter. Lee Min Ho was, however, charming, adorable and is, indeed, very good looking in person. He also looked extremely young!
Yes, his first word was “Hi” and the crowd went wild. The MC turned and said “Hi” in a similar fashion and feigned disappointment that his greeting wasn’t met with the same fervor.
The raffle prizes? 2 robot toys featured in the “One and Only” commercials as well as a hug from Lee Min Ho and an opportunity to asked him a question, and 20 chances to go up on stage, get a hug from “Oppa” as well as a signed poster.
No, neither Jini nor I won any of the raffle prizes, but our new friend Crystal won a poster and a hug. (Yea! Crystal!) Still and all, it was indeed fun and exciting to be so close to an actor that I’ve admired for so long!
The event ended, somewhat abruptly, right after the signings at 6:45pm. Although fans were disappointed to see it end, I saw nothing but happy, smiling faces as we exited the venue and headed for the parking lot.
At this point, however, Jini and I were pretty darned hungry having eaten nothing but a tiny pastry all day… Stay tuned for a review of our “layover” in Irvine on the way home…