Kim Se-jeong brings Manila to her world with ‘The Door’ concert

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 2) — From spending rainy days at a playground so she has a space to practice singing all by herself, Kim Se-jeong is now serenading and bringing one country at a time to a new world with her first solo concert tour.

Her show in Manila on Sunday was the third stop in her two-month tour following the release of "The Door," her comeback, first full-length album.

It contains music which Kim personally wrote — 11 songs which she said carry a piece of her own story. These helped make up a nearly three-hour event, which at some points felt like an intimate conversation with fans.

At 5 p.m., the concert at the New Frontier Theater in Cubao opened with striking visuals, the massive LED screen transforming into a dreamlike ocean background of deep blues and hints of purples and pinks, as excited screams from fans pierced the venue.

The otherworldly intro to her song “Whale” played, and a neon blue door appeared right at the center of the screen. This was the spot where Kim would finally appear moments after, dressed in a silver-white top and a matching sparkly, floor-length tulle skirt. The collective squealing by the audience nearly drowned out the first few notes.

Kim briefly encountered a technical difficulty a minute into her first performance but recovered in an instant. After a soft start, the song became more upbeat, the crowd untiring in its cheers.

“The loudness of fans today is no joke,” Kim said in Korean after completing her opener.

The singer-actress rose to fame in 2016 after participating in the reality competition "Produce 101,” which ultimately created her first girl group I.O.I. In that show, she earned the nickname "God Se-jeong" for her talent that stood out among trainees, as she ranked no lower than first or second place round after round.

On Sunday, Kim performed over 20 songs which demonstrated her impressive vocal range. She moved from slow, soulful ballads to more pop and indie-rock, as she continued her world-building and story-telling through music.

Among the songs in the first part of her setlist were “Teddy Bear,” “Indigo Promise,” “Plant,” and “Send A Letter.” The second portion opened with pop song “Jenga” which has more EDM beats, and also included “Top or Cliff” and “Voyage,” the double title tracks to her latest album.

She also treated fans to a few songs from K-dramas, including ones she starred in, “The Uncanny Counter” and “Business Proposal.” The fan-favorite song “Love, Maybe” from the latter had the theater loudly singing along in Korean, something Kim noticed with appreciation.

The last two years have shaped up to be a golden period for Hallyu fans in the Philippines, dotted with back-to-back shows by Korean stars after a pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But it isn’t often that artists take the time to share the stories behind their songs as much as Kim did that evening.

She also engaged a lot with fans, prepared videos to keep them entertained during costume changes, accepted song requests, and even went down the stage to get up close with them.

Throughout the concert, she repeatedly thanked Filipino fans for their love, calling their cheers “legendary.”

“Just like all the love that you have given me, you made me who I am, I’ll really, really try to show you my best,” she said.

In the latter part of her show, Kim sang “In the Rain,” something she said in previous interviews drew from her childhood memory of practicing singing in a playground near her house. She did this whenever rain fell, she said, as it meant the place was empty and she didn’t have to worry about making other people uncomfortable.

As she sang the words “Saranghae, saranghae, saranghae [I love you],” her Filipino fans joined in, half-singing, half-screaming, a distinctly memorable moment in the world they were able to share inside the theater.

Kim Se-jeong’s “The Door” concert in Manila was presented by Wilbros Live.