The elevator door opens.
A smiling Jinri Park—radio DJ, model, and now a TV star—approaches me. I hand her the roses and make the customary beso...then the cameras start flashing.
From trolling to dating
I was one of the three winners of the Gillette Philippines-sponsored Win-A-Date-With-Jinri Park contest held on Facebook. Guys were asked to send in their ideal date scenarios with the model, and she got to choose the winners based on a short list.
I didn't expect to win. In fact, I just sent in my entry as a form of trolling the contest. How can I possibly win? I hardly win any contests like these; geeks aren't supposed to. But here I was, one of three “Gillette Men.”
Fortunately, Jinri and I knew each other from my stint with all-OPM site Radio Republic . I remember her being quite into a lot of Pinoy music (her tiny car is loaded with tons of CDs of local artists such as ChicoSci, Tanya Markova, Pupil, and Franco). I also remember her guesting on one of the shows on the said Internet station, and the awkward hilarity that ensued. Pretty cool woman, if you ask me.
Picking your nose for the paparazzi?
We boarded the van and went straight to our first “date” activity, which was a late lunch at ARA Korean Restaurant in Makati. Interesting place: we had a reserved room with a low table, Korean-style of course. We took the opportunity to play catch-up (not that I don't know of her activities, since her Facebook page keeps everyone quite updated) while waiting for our food.
We couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity of the situation, with Gillette's and FHM's camera crews standing by. I guess that will be the closest thing I will ever get to the whole “rock musician-dates-model-while-being-chased-by-paparazzi” scenario. I ask her how she deals with all these photographers wanting to have that perfect shot of her.
“Oh, you get used to it,” Jinri says. “Just pretend they're not there and do whatever.”
“Yeah, like pick your nose or scratch your armpit, then wave,” I add. Laughter in the room.
Growing up Korean in Cebu
Last time we met, we were just goofing around watching The Diegos (Diego Mapa of Pedicab and Diego Castillo of Sandwich) and talking about their “musician faces” compared to others in the music scene. This lunch provided us an opportunity to just chill and get to know each other more. Like how it was growing up in Cebu for her and the odd situation she sees herself in.
“I'm Korean, but when I'm there in my home country I don't feel Korean at all,” she says. “I grew up in Cebu. But there I got teased for being Korean.”
She also found it odd that to be a Korean star in her home country, celebrities get a lot of work done to their bodies and faces. “I don't want any work done on me. I'd like to stay natural, and grow old gracefully.” No breast enhancements, no facial work, and no lipo treatments whatsoever.
Jinri eats…A LOT
If there's one thing I will never forget about that lunch, it's the fact that she eats. A lot . “Let's order a lot of food since it's all free,” she giggled. The servings arrive: a gigantic bowl vegetable soup for her (she's vegetarian), eight slices of haemul pajeon (seafood pancake), bulgogi for non-vegetarian me, and a whole lot of vegetable sidings.
An empty soup bowl and 4 slices later, she was done. I was barely into my second slice of the pancake.
And looking at Jinri in her tight blue dress, I had no idea where the food went. I was definitely owned.
Two novices play golf
Afterwards we went to the Makati Golf Club Driving Range, where we were both taught how to golf. We initially laughed at the idea, as we both found golf boring. “How about swimming?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said. Of course I didn't tell her I couldn't swim to save my life.
Golf was definitely harder than it looked. But I'm into focus sports, so I thought I could be all competitive and impressive. 30 minutes later Jinri was already hitting balls like crazy, while I was still learning how to swing decently. But I found my swing and aced it quite a few times. But she was better, and definitely a faster learner.
Owned once again.
Her ‘dating schedule’
On the way back to the hotel we talked about her “dating schedule” that day. She was up since 4 a.m. for the first “date,” then ours, then the evening one. I was tired (food, head, and golf? Perfect recipe for sleep), and so was she. Even more so. Post-date photo ops and chitchat, and then she went back to her room for a short nap. Being a celebrity is definitely not easy.
Did she enjoy it? I hope so. Here's a video from the occasion, I leave it to you readers to judge for yourselves.
Me? I was on my way to a John Williams tribute to join my geek friends. Then it hit me: my high school self would never have thought a date with a Korean model would be possible. But it happened.
Cheers, High School Self.
A date with Jinri Park
Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed.
Special thanks to Jinri Park and to Gillette Philippines