'I was enveloped in his wonderful scent'
Singaporean fan gets to meet, hug and perform for K-pop singer G-Dragon after winning contest
K-pop idol G-Dragon is very generous with "skinship" (a Korean term for physical contact).
And Singaporean Merissa Tee, 25, was lucky to find out first-hand.
The final year School of Art, Design and Media student from Nanyang Technological University often received hugs from the singer when she spent two days with him in Korea last month.
The singer-songwriter was one of five to win a contest organised by home and room-renting site Airbnb.
The prize? A two-night stay in the Big Bang leader's Dukyang crib in Seoul.
G-Dragon, 27, also played host to other winners from Korea, China, Hong Kong and Japan during what Miss Tee described as their "extraordinary" vacation.
Here is an account of how Miss Tee lived the dream of many K-pop fans.
DAY 1, SEPT 21
It was 1am when Miss Tee boarded the plane at Changi Airport.
The fact that someone she greatly admired was waiting for her in Korea was almost too much to bear.
It was only when she touched down at Seoul's Incheon International Airport at 7am that it really sank in.
On the way to meet her favourite K-pop star, she chatted nervously with the other winners.
Miss Tee told The New Paper: "I prepared little gifts for them such as handwritten notes and some of our local sweets.
"Some of them were shocked when they tasted the durian sweets."
Thankfully, the taste of durian did not deter their bonding.
She said: "We all got along well so that was great."
As G-Dragon opened the door to his home, Miss Tee was overwhelmed with joy when he gave them big, welcoming hugs and even helped his guests with their luggage.
Jumping like an excited kid onto a beanbag, the K-pop star welcomed them into his abode - a stylish space decorated with personal items and memorabilia.
In the living room were costumes and shoes from his various music videos, while the fridge and pantry were stocked with the singer's favourite drinks and snacks.
Playing host-with-the-most, G-Dragon had also drawn a map highlighting some of his favourite spots in Korea to hang out.
Said Miss Tee: "It was all so surreal. And he was a laid-back kind of guy who didn't fret much."
He told them to be relaxed and to make themselves at home.
"In one room, I reached out for a photo book and it fell so a whole bunch of CDs just crashed to the floor.
"I was so embarrassed but G-Dragon was just so cool with it, he just told me to leave it."
G-Dragon also had a great sense of humour, she said, often joking with them in fluent English.
"The funny thing was that I tried to speak to G-Dragon in Korean and he replied in English!"
Whenever they took group pictures, he would always hug them close and say, 'Let's get comfortable', recalled Miss Tee.
The icing on the cake for Miss Tee was discovering that she was staying in the room where G-Dragon used to spend a lot of time as a trainee and where he wrote many of his hit songs.
She said: "As a songwriter myself, I felt so honoured. I felt so connected to the entire experience."
During dinner, the winners were taken to the famous cafeteria located in the building of the singer's management company YG Entertainment.
After Miss Tee queued to get an assortment of Korean food, her day hit another high note as G-Dragon sat down next to her.
When one of the other winners realised that she didn't have water, G-Dragon quickly got up to bring her some.
The dinner conversation focused on his life as one of Korea's most successful artists.
The guests also urged him to rest more if his schedule was too hectic.
"Please tell YG that," G-Dragon quipped to laughter.
At the end of their intimate dinner and chat, G-Dragon hugged each of them tightly and bade them good night.
DAY 2, SEPT 22
It was a G-Dragon-less day for the winners.
Instead, they were taken on a tour of all the places that he had highlighted on the map, such as Nanji Park at Han River and the aA Design Museum cafe in Hongdae.
But G-Dragon made his presence felt with gifts.
That, and memories of his scent.
Miss Tee said that whenever she was hugged by G-Dragon, she would be enveloped in his wonderful cologne, which she described as oriental and woody.
Each guest received a bottle of the cologne he wears - Frederic Malle's Musc Ravageur.
They were also given Big Bang's merchandise and CDs, Polaroid lenses for their phone cameras, pens, specially designed T-shirts for his collaboration with Airbnb, designer mugs and books on Seoul.
To thank him for his hospitality, they decided to perform his hit song Who You when they met him again the next day.
Said Ms Tee: "Three of us are musicians, while the others were not but everyone was very sporting and agreed to practise.
"We did it in the dance studios in YG, that was very cool.
"I brought my ukulele so I also prepared to sing him a song on my own."
DAY 3, SEPT 23
G-Dragon arrived at his Dukyang crib and was greeted by presents and performances.
After more hugging (of course), he proceeded to soak in each guest's talent.
She said: "I gave him a portrait that I painted of him and he asked 'Is that me?'. Then he mumbled to himself in Korean 'This looks better than me'.
"All of us said 'No, don't say that!'."
Even though he wore sunglasses throughout the meeting, Miss Tee made sure she made "eye contact" with him.
"When I sang Big Bang's We Belong Together to him, I stared so hard at him that I was sure that I had 'pierced' through his sunglasses.
"He looked surprised, raised his eyebrows and then concentrated hard on my performance.
"When I finished, there was awkward silence. Then he gave a big whoop of appreciation and said 'You are a good singer'."
The performances were a cue for more hugs.
Before he said goodbye, Miss Tee received an extra special, if flawed, treat.
G-Dragon autographed her ukulele but spelled her name wrongly.
Said Miss Tee: "I felt bad telling him but I asked him if he could sign it again.
"He said sorry and stared at my ukulele for a really long time as he had no idea how to rectify 'Merrisa' to 'Merissa'.
"I told him to cancel the original and just sign over it. He did."
Aside from the signature, it was the Korean star's written message that meant most to Miss Tee.
"He wrote 'I will support you'. Knowing that he supports my music means the world to me."
"When I sang Big Bang's We Belong Together to him, I stared so hard at him that I was sure that I had 'pierced' through his sunglasses."
- Miss Merissa Tee