Tatler Philippines

The K Factor

On his visit to Manila, South Korean actor and Bench ambassador Kim Soo-hyun talks about his personal style and what he loves most about the Philippine­s

- By Maritess Garcia Reyes

The low-key actor Kim Soo-hyun entered the room in an all-black ensemble—denim jacket and a plain tee paired with jeans and sneakers. His outfit somehow reminded me of his character in

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (the only Asian nominee for Best TV Movie or Miniseries at the Internatio­nal Emmy Awards in 2021) where he played the lead role that earned him a Best Actor nomination at the Baeksang Arts Awards in the same year. His angelic face instantly captured the audience, enough to make them forget for a second that the man on stage is one of the most in-demand and highest earning celebritie­s in South Korea following the phenomenal success of his projects such as My Love from the Star, Moon Embracing the Sun, Dream High and One Ordinary Day that remain popular globally to this day. Soo-hyun was in Manila for a grand meet-and-greet hosted by the Philippine­s’ largest homegrown clothing retailer, Bench, which he is a global ambassador of.

When not dressing up for a character in a show, the 34-year-old debonair personally prefers “casual and comfortabl­e clothes in black or dark colours”, a style philosophy that is very much aligned with the Filipino fashion label he endorses. “I know that Bench, [being the biggest clothing and lifestyle brand in the Philippine­s] has all the [kinds of] clothes in the world,” Soo-hyun utters in his sexiest Korean accent. “I wore a Bench shirt coming here. It is very comfortabl­e,” he continues, talking about the simple white shirt with a subtle BCH (short for “Bench”) logo he donned at the airport, which is part of the special Bench X Kim Soo-hyun collection.

Not a first-timer in the Philippine­s, the South Korean actor reminisces his experience during his visit five years ago. “From the airport I could see and feel the warm greetings from my fans,” he muses. “I am happy to see them again. Filipinos have the eyes of an angel, and I missed those eyes the most.” But besides the warm

“I am happy to see them again. Filipinos have the eyes of an angel, and I missed those eyes the most”

hospitalit­y, Soo-hyun enjoys Filipino food—from the iconic fried chicken of local fast-food giant, Jollibee, to street foods like chicharon (pork cracklings). “I want to try something grilled this time,” he says, adding that given a chance, he would like to explore the country’s beautiful beaches in Boracay and Cebu.

For someone who speaks a lot about food, it is intriguing to know how the well-loved celebrity keeps himself fit. Seems like he is quite the athlete, taking pleasure in activities like cycling, climbing and bowling. “As you know, in my personal time, I prefer playing bowling because it’s a very mental thing… it’s a concentrat­ion game. And I heard that golf also requires mental concentrat­ion, so I am having my day on it,” he enthuses.

Though glitz and glamour envelope this humble actor, he is one of the few who never fails to give back. It was reported that he, together with his fans, has been donating tons of rice annually since 2012 to some charities. He has also extended help to the victims of the MV Sewol ferry tragedy in 2014. Last year, he supported pandemic initiative­s to help low-income families.

When eager fans ask about his next project, he answers, “There is nothing certain for now, but I will try to give you good news as soon as possible. A lot of my fans want to see me in a medical drama.” It looks like there are exciting things in the pipeline.

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