It takes all sorts to make the world …. just as it takes all sorts to make the PSH world.
There’s the man himself, of course, at the center of his universe. He is surrounded by first of all his family, some members of whom have been most visible. Everybody knows his brother Park Woo Ho is the CEO of his management company Hoo Factory, and he accompanies PSH on most of his trips abroad. His mother often tags along too, and she has become familiar with some of his fans. Many fans (from different countries) who have been to Buyeo have met his father and his grandmother who are most hospitable. His grandfather is a little elusive, but he too has appeared and had his picture taken (to prove the man who used to ride horses really exists^^)
PSH has friends, of course, good friends, not fairweather friends who dropped him like a hot potato when he got into trouble. We still remember how quickly Mucha pulled all his photos from their site in February 2013. We don’t know anything about PSH’s friends, except the one who appeared on KBS’s “Star Life Theater”. The two of them went back a long way when they were both struggling actors-to-be. PSH must have friends in the K-entertainment world, but no one came to his defense when he’s down and out. Perhaps that’s the way Korean culture is, but we hope they let him know in private that he’s not alone. We know the entertainment business all over the world is dog-eat-dog, but we still believe in human kindness and decency.
The next concentric circle is PSH’s staff/handlers — HF officials (we miss Mr. Chubby!), his hair designer, his stylist, his photographer, etc. They have all posted photos and info of PSH on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram, especially when it’s not convenient for PSH to do so himself. You’ve seen them at the airports or events in Korea, Japan, and China.
And then there are the fans who form the outermost ring (even if some fancy themselves to be in the inner circle.) Fans from different countries are very different. We’ve met leading Korean and Japanese fans (leaders who do the work, organize functions, manage donations, etc.) and they are without exception capable and selfless people, completely devoted to PSH. For example, the 2014 PSH birthday is forever etched into our memory with one outstanding image — that of the birthday cake, especially the top part which Japanese fan Misa123 hand-carried all the way from Tokyo to Buyeo. When PSH ate that, we’re sure it tasted especially sweet, and not from the sugar and spice (as the song goes) but because it was saturated with love.
We’ve crossed swords with 2 Chinese Masters of 2 different websites of different regions. We’ll let you in on a secret : why we started PSH4U. At that time we could only go to existing PSH sites to check out his news. One overseas Chinese site (i.e. not in mainland China) required members to be of a certain level before they’re allowed to read certain posts or see certain photos/videos. A could not type Chinese, so H had to leave hundreds of comments so A could access certain posts. Her efforts were all wasted one day when A wrote a comment (in English) that offended the Master and her membership was deleted. Why do we have to be at the mercy of people like these? we thought. We could start our own PSH website. Voila! PSH4U was conceived. And we made sure it’s an open site so anyone who likes PSH is welcome to come and browse. This Master tried to make life difficult for us on one occasion (without knowing PSH4U was once their member), but of course we would not let her ride roughshod over us. We have not heard from her since. We have not bothered to find out if her website is still functioning, but we know for a fact we’re bigger and better^^
We don’t socialize because we don’t like 是非 [ED: no exact translation in English – the 2 words literally mean “right” “wrong”, if you get the drift.] Even if we keep to ourselves, sometimes trouble comes looking for us. On one occasion, the Master of a leading Chinese PSH website asked us to delete a certain post. We politely refused and she was very surprised. She told us when the Master of one site asked the Master of another site to delete a post, the request was always honored. We’re the new kid on the block, we said, we didn’t know the rules. The post stayed, and we sort of became friends. 不打不相識^^ (Friendship starts from an exchange of blows).
Sometimes the blow comes out of left field, from someone totally unexpected, who told us off because she felt we posted articles that were detrimental to PSH, that showed him in an unfavorable light. The articles do not reflect how we feel about PSH but how the Koreans feel about him, and it is important that his fans are kept in the loop and not in the dark. However, this is just a minor irritation. We haven’t yet mentioned the weird, the annoying, and the obnoxious …. There’s the fan who lives in a world of her own, a world in which she imagines she and PSH are an item. She used to regale us with bizarre stories (in l-o-n-g e-mails) about their “affair”. There’s the fan who’s very aggressive and bossy and thought she could take whatever she liked from our site and pass it off as her own, until we put her in her place. And then there’s the fan who has no moral scruples at all and would do anything to be regarded as #1 PSH fan (many failed to see through her pretense even after we called her bluff) …. These people of different nationalities used to be PSH4U members and now they all have their own PSH websites, and curiously and coincidentally they have become chummy on Twitter, Facebook, and Weibo. What’s that proverb about “Birds of a feather….”?
We feel very strongly that all fans are equal. But we know some think “All fans are equal, but some are more equal than others.” This is of course a paraphrase of George Orwell’s famous lines in the political satire “Animal Farm” : “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” We value more the fan who goes to an unheralded PSH event, knowing she won’t be able to see him up close but determined to go anyway because an international presence is important for PSH’s image BEFORE his official domestic return than the fan who attends practically every one of PSH’s events and then never loses an opportunity to remind people how many times she has seen him, how many times she has shaken his hand, how many times she has “talked” to him, how many autographs she has collected … blah, blah, blah. How do you think those fans who live in faraway countries feel? — fans who for one reason or another are not able to attend any PSH event, who will never have the chance to see him in person. They don’t love him less; they just don’t have the time or leisure or resources.
We all love PSH in our own way. Keeping him in your heart, praying for him every night, leaving comments on PSH websites, voting for him at various sites, creating MVs for him, buying his DVDs and CDs, splurging on his souvenirs every now and then, subscribing to his magazine ENISHI, keeping the flame burning for him …. are as good as attending his events which cater for the minority of lucky fans. For the majority of fans, PSH is a remote presence, but someone very real, flesh and blood, someone we can relate to (even though we may not speak the same language) because what he embodies is universal — goodness, decency, integrity, courage, modesty, perseverance, charity, consistency, conscientiousness, filial piety, genuineness….and, vulnerability.
(Credits: Cake photo by misa123; 2nd photo from http://news1.kr. Thanks!)