Bella Frey gets star-struck. And who can blame her?
Rain in London in January, nothing unusual there. However Rain, as in Jung Ji-hoon, South Korea’s delightfully handsome mega pop star and actor, in London is definitely a once in a blue moon event. As soon as the news hit Facebook that he would be here in the UK, in London, the comments and status updates went crazy. When? Where? How long for?
He was actually here to promote South Korean high end leather goods and accessories firm MCM, who have a store in Knightsbridge. Details about the event being held at the store were teasingly sketchy, with us being spoon fed little drops of information. Then, two days before the event an update stated that due to his incredibly busy schedule he would not be able to attend the store and the event looked to have been cancelled. Hearts all over the city sank. Then, as if he had felt the collective sadness the event was back on but at an earlier time and for a shorter time slot, and with new conditions. Only fans who purchased the MCM ‘Stark’ backpack would be allowed to see him. Again, a collective burst of googling revealed that this backpack would cost up to £400. I realised then that if I were to make it there it would be for a quick glimpse of him through the crowd.
I raced from work into central London to Sloane Street and arrived at 2.30pm. Appropriately it was raining. The shop wasn’t difficult to find as there was a corner clustered in Rain fans, (sounds dangerous), I mean fans of Rain (Bi) I asked a student if he had arrived and I was excitedly told that he had arrived late and I had only just missed him, but she had photos snapped of his arrival. I chatted with some other fans for a while before asking who could afford one of the backpacks, and was told that the game had changed again, and now any purchase from the store would result in meeting Rain and getting the item autographed. I looked through the window and imagined most of the items in the store would be way out of my budget. I was right, the cheapest item in the store was an small leather phone pouch. I dismissed the idea of purchasing especially after seeing the queue to even get through the door. I thought I would loiter and see if I could get some second hand elation from the lucky few who were meeting him. One by one, they trickled out of the store, some delirious, some starstruck and some just overwhelmed. “He hugged me”, “He’s so gorgeous”, “He felt so strong” all followed by shrieks and giggles and envy. I asked to take a photo of one of the signed backpacks, as I felt this was the closest I was going to get to the megastar. As I took the photo I noticed the queue to get inside the shop had dwindled and there were only ten or so people still waiting, they were soon ushered inside and the rest of us looked on hoping to catch him as he left. A Facebook comment had stated ‘From unconfirmed source there is no back door to the shop. Therefore he will need to use front door!’
Waiting in the cold whilst more and more happy fans came up from the basement of the store made something weird happen to me. I became quite involved in the momentum of the event, I knew if this event had been taking place in Asia or even New York, there would have been thousands of people rather than the hundreds or so here. I was lucky to have the chance possibly glimpse him. Then I remembered I hadn’t had a phone pouch since the one I bought on eBay came apart at the seams. The ones in the store were actually cute, and much more to my taste than the backpack. They looked like very good quality, long lasting. I think I NEED one. Yes I definitely need one. It is so expensive though, I can’t justify it after all my Christmas spending, but it will come free with smile and hug from one of Asias biggest stars. It’s actually quite good value, it’s real leather. I want one! Then, as if by some planetary sychronicity one of the doormen called out, “Does anyone else want to buy anything?” “YES, ME”, in the swing of a door I was inside the store pointing at the little leather phone pouch and standing in the queue to meet Rain.
I suddenly felt nervous, like a teenager waiting to meet a date. My heartbeat was in my throat. I peered down the stairs and could see an incredibly tall young man in a very glitzy leather jacket adorned with gold square sequins signing one after another after another, pouches, handbags, backpacks. I couldn’t help noticing he had sunglasses on which is a bit less personal than I would have liked, but he seemed warm and friendly. I stood on the stairs giggling with the other girls queuing and wondered why no-one was saying anything to him. The line moved faster than I had anticipated. Everyone just approached the desk where he was standing, passed him their purchase, posed for a photo, then walked away fairly silently, before erupting into hysteria outside to the delight of the other waiting fans. Within a few moments I was next in line, I walked towards him, said “Hi Rain”, then silently passed him my leather pouch and waited whilst he signed it. What had happened to me, I had so many things to say, to ask. I had planned on making him laugh, make my moment unforgettable, but instead I turned into a puddle in front of Rain. I turned awkwardly for the photo and suddenly managed to blurt out “Can you sign my back?” He obliged, and with a chisel ended permanent marker he signed my leather jacket. I yelped with joy (inside my head). I thanked him and turned and left walking up the stairs silently like all the others before me. I had never been starstruck before, I felt I was more sensible and mature than to feel all mushy about someone I had never met before. I am also very careful with my pennies but as I passed my bank card to the assistant I felt like my decision to buy the phone pouch was worth every penny. I felt warm and smiley and elated. A few hours ago if I had been in possession of an autographed phone pouch and leather jacket signed by a Korean pop idol superstar, I may have been tempted to think eBay. But now, now everything has changed, and they are mine, mine forever. I love you Rain!
I now await my photo from the official photographer and pray I didn’t have my eyes shut or my belly sticking out!
The MCM Store is at 5 Sloane Street, London