Lee Seung-gi: Singer, actor and philanthropist

Do Pinoys go wild and ga-ga over K-pop bands due to the Korean personality that they see in those singer-dancers or is it the Caucasian features and allures of those Korean entertainers that drive Pinoy fans wild and obsessed over the likes of BTS and Blackpink?

Blond or brown hair; thin, narrow and high-bridged noses, large eyes, cocky stances and postures, body-hugging outfits are not typical Korean features.

The most adored and loved members of K-pop bands hardly look Korean nor even Asian. At most, they look Korean-Caucasian.

But it’s largely the K-pop broods who cultivate a Korean-Caucasian look and the Caucasian sensuality.

There are clusters of well-loved and high-earning South Korean entertainment idols who look and behave like proper and unsensual South Koreans who don’t show off their cleavages and abs even when fully clothed.

His Korean (or Asian) looks must be among the reasons Lee Seung-gi is a Korean superstar, reportedly among the highest paid and among the most influential in South Korea. He is known not only for his “triple threat” talents but also for his philanthropic acts.

Outside South Korea, Lee seems to be known mainly in some Asian countries, including the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.
Lee is a solo star who sings, dances, acts and hosts. He has been at it since 2004, when he was in his teens. He is a soaring star all by himself. If Pinoy actors soar into fame and fortune, it’s because in the beginning of their showbiz career, they were part of a loveteam. Lee wasn’t into it. Each film and each TV series he topbilled had him paired up with one top leading lady in South Korea.

Lee’s solid entertainment track record and popularity have earned him a prominent place on the Forbes Korea Powerful Celebrity list. He has appeared on this esteemed list numerous times since 2010 — from 2010 to 2012, 2015, 2022 to 2023.

He has also displayed his acting skills and versatility by successfully taking on a wide range of roles — from romantic dramas like My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho, historical epics like Gu Family Book, to fantasy series A Korean Odyssey.

He has also made a name for himself as a skilled host.

Pinoy fans
Through the years, Lee has taken home not just one but multiple grand prize awards for his work in dramas, films, variety shows and music.

Though Lee has fans in the Philippines, they are not as numerous as those of BTS, Blackpink and other K-pop groups. Each time he turns up in the country, his events are booked in mid-sized venues, such as the New Frontier Theater in Cubao, Quezon City.

He has entertained his Pinoy fans at New Frontier twice. The first time was in October 2019 when he had a fan meet to promote his Vagabond series.

He played games with his Pinoy Aireens (a name he himself gave to his fandoms), had endless selfies with them, cooked a Korean delicacy for one lucky fan and treated them to video clips of scenes in Vagabond that took three to four days but would be seen on screen for a few seconds or minutes. Vagabond is a spy story.

He was already in his early 30’s when he first visited the country, though he looked like he was just in his mid-20s.

His second visit was just in 27 May of this year. This time around he gave a concert. It was part of The Dreamer’s Dream tour which also took him to Tokyo, Osaka and Taipei. The concert at New Frontier reaped good reviews. He was vibrant and energetic. He was already 36 (he turned so in January).

His third visit was just on 17 September, and it was to help distribute gift packs to 200 selected children courtesy of BB.Q Chicken restaurant, which opened in the Philippines last year and has two outlets now.

The gift-giving, dubbed as “Love Back,” was held at Robinson’s Magnolia on Aurora Blvd., QC where there’s a BB.Q on the third floor.

At the event, Lee said he found the Pinoys so warm and receptive to him during his May concert, so he decided to accept the restaurant owner’s invite to him to assist in the gift-giving. He was determined to love back.

That owner is the former Ilocos Sur governor Luis “Chavit” Singson, who seems to have become Lee’s friend early on. In March this year, there were reports that Lee visited Singson in his vast estate residence in that northern province. The ex-governor was in the gift-giving and was in his usual jolly ways. (You can’t be as wealthy and influential as Singson and not forever be cheerful).

Lee promised the crowd that he would do his best to visit the Philippines more often because he always misses the Pinoys warm smiles at him anywhere and anytime of the day. He sang two songs to the kids before the gift-giving. He also had a 10-minute question-and-answer session with the media people.

Lee was just in white long-sleeves shirt and off-white pants. They were not show outfits.

Big donations
Back in South Korea, Lee has involved himself with various philanthropic activities. Since 2009, he had donated one million won weekly to families who appeared on KBS’ Field Report Companion, for total of 100 million won.

In addition to the donations, Lee also volunteered to personally seek out the families and help them.

He also participated in a charity fan signing event for world hunger relief. The event was held at Seoul Hongdae branch of Pizza Hut on 28 October 2012.

In 2013, Lee donated 5.88 tons of rice to Nowon-gu, Seoul. According to Nowon-gu, the 5.88 tons of rice donated by Lee is enough to feed 50,000 children.

For his 35th birthday on 13 January 2022, Lee became the first charity fairy under the entertainment category on the celebrity ranking service, CHOEAEDOL Celeb.

Lee has made other hefty donations in support of children, health and science and technology.

Lee does not have to be as wildly famous as the K-pop bands to be fabulously philanthropic.