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Christian Gaza paid for a billboard in Seoul to ask Jennie out for dinner. Photo: Facebook

K-pop fans riled by Philippine businessman who placed US$30,000 ad to woo Blackpink’s Jennie

  • Christian Gaza, 28, hopes it will be a second time lucky – he placed a similar ad in 2017 to date Filipino actress Erich Gonzales but she turned him down
  • While ardent K-pop fans go to great lengths to express their love for idols, insiders say most don’t bring attention to themselves and act as a family
Geela Garciain Manila
Christian “Xian” Gaza, a self-proclaimed Filipino businessman who paid US$30,000 for a billboard ad asking Blackpink’s Jennie Kim out on a date, has shot down descriptions his move is “creepy”.

“Creepy people invade your privacy by stalking your private life, such as your place of residence and workplace. I was not even in Seoul when I put up my billboard proposal,” the 28-year-old fan said from Thailand.

“I’m an attention-seeking narcissist who craves the attention of my crushes. I love attention. It’s very good for my mental health,” said Gaza, who became a fan of the group just a few months ago in June.

Christian Gaza is a big fan of K-pop star Jennie Kim. Photo: Facebook

Blackpink has four members – Jennie, Jisoo, Rosé and Lisa – and it is currently the most successful girl group in the K-pop world.

Gaza first gained internet popularity in 2017 when he pulled a similar stunt with a billboard ad inviting Filipino actress Erich Gonzales for a coffee date.

She declined, saying in an ABS-CBN interview that she felt “uncomfortable” after reading reports that Gaza was linked to a scam.


In 2018, Gaza was convicted for violating the Bouncing Check Law and reportedly fled from authorities a year later. Today, he claims to have three businesses registered in Thailand.

While K-pop fans say putting up expensive billboards ads is par for the course for ardent followers – or “stans” – Gaza’s message irked fans because it came across as arrogant and manipulative.

Some said a man should not put a woman on the spot by publicly asking them out on a date.

“K-pop stans are very organised. They will do everything to support their idols become relevant in charts, hoping that they can achieve the popularity of BTS who made it to the Billboard charts,” said Joy, a 19-year-old student who is an ARMY, or BTS fan.


“Fans set up milestones and they have clear directions on how to achieve them to show their support,” she added.

Christian Gaza's billboard ad inviting Blackpink Jennie out for dinner is hung by workers in Manila. Photo: Facebook

Jean Mirandilla, 33, is an E.L.F – “Ever Lasting Friend”, the fandom name of Super Junior – who has taken part in putting up billboards for the 10-member boy band.


Her group, Elf Fanbases Alliance International–PH, which is a registered organisation in the Philippines, has spent tens of thousands of pesos to put up billboards along a busy Manila highway and the MOA Eye ferris wheel to show its appreciation to Super Junior.

From Philippines to Thailand, why do fans send luxury gifts to K-pop idols?

According to Dr Erik Capistrano, associate professor and principal investigator of the University of the Philippines Korea Research Centre, an average Filipino K-pop fan spends about 50,000–70,000 pesos (US$2,400-3,400) a year on merchandise including albums, light sticks and concert tickets.


The more well-off followers could spend up to 100,000 pesos to support fan gatherings or sponsor gifts to idols.

But Capistrano, a fan of Girls Generation himself, said since debate erupted a few years ago on what constituted a “legitimate fan”, stans have stopped revealing how much they spend.


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From Blackpink to BTS: K-pop wins the hearts of Peruvian fans amid rising popularity of K-culture

“There were fans that, at one point, fought because it became all about money ... There was a lot of unnecessary debate on what entailed a legitimate fan,” he said.


Some have been known to shower their favourite celebrities with gifts such as luxury bags to the latest phone models, Capistrano said, but would list the presents as coming from the entire fandom instead of claiming sole credit.

Philippines’ K-pop love

Capistrano says while the Philippines is known for having powerful singers, the K-pop wave has swept the nation because of its high production value, catchy visuals and originality.

“Korean groups’ releases are always refreshing and they exhibit versatility,” he said.

While Filipino singers “had good vocals, there was a period that they were only releasing covers of different songs”.

A behind-the-scenes photo of BlackPink at a concert. Photo: Instagram

“Around that time too, Western music became so sexualised. And when Western boy bands started to become popular, a lot of Filipino groups imitated them, and consumers grew tired of the concept,” Capistrano said.

“But then came Korean men and women, dancing with sculpted bodies. They found a way to show skin without making it sexualised,” he said. “K-pop presented something fresh to the minds, eyes and ears of consumers.”

The fact that the K-pop industry takes fandom seriously makes followers feel appreciated, Capistrano said.

“Now with K-pop, you are an ARMY, a Blink, a Carat,” he said, referring to the fandom names of BTS, Blackpink and Seventeen.

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“That kind of identity gives fans a feeling that they have earned their place in the fandom, which was never communicated by Western artists before.”

Ara Gonzales, 22, a health worker based in Manila, started to become a fan of Super Junior when she was 12. She says she feels a familial connection when she views their performances.

“When I watch them, I see their personality. They’re down to earth and very active. I got to know them for the past 10 years. They are family now,” she said.

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“The members could have disbanded and gone on their separate ways since they are each talented in their own right, but they chose to stay and remain active even when they are not in their prime years any more,” she said. “I think that says how much they value the group and the fans.”

Jean and fellow Elves say the act of putting up billboards shows their appreciation and encouragement for the long-running group.

“This is our way to show appreciation and gratitude because [Super Junior] has been actively sharing their talent and passion for 16 years,” she said.

“We want them to keep on going. They helped us cope with difficult times. If they love us, we want to show we love them, too.”