As a global phenomenon, K-dramas have been widely loved by almost all kinds of audiences no matter where they are in the world and their culture. It’s a no-brainer that entertainment industries in different countries are almost always hectic, strict, and sometimes hard to get in. But one Pinoy proves that nothing is impossible with your dreams, as long as you mix hard work and discipline. Christian Lagahit has worked with Lee Hye-ri in Miss Lee (2019) and Song Joong-ki in the film Space Sweepers (2021). He was also seen in Lee Je-hoon’s recent hit, Taxi Driver and the currently-airing Racket Boys on Netflix.
As a young Filipino, Christian Lagahit harbored dreams of being on Pinoy Big Brother (a popular reality TV show in the Philippines). Despite auditioning for the show, Christian was held back by popular perceptions of what makes a celebrity—fair skin, pointed features, and modest background. Who knew that despite his initial misgivings, Christian would go on to achieve his dream years later in South Korea—home of the global phenomenon K-dramas? Aside from acting in K-dramas, Christian works as a marketing consultant, teaches English, and serves as a community leader in an area populated by Filipinos. Let’s spend a day in his exciting life as a K-drama actor!
Christian reveals that while minor roles might require an audition, extras don’t really need them. They do, however, need to send in recent pictures for the drama’s staff to make sure they fit the role. In the case of just one or two extras, the chances of being seen on camera are pretty high. Post the confirmation of the role, Christian shifts his focus to the script. He prepares his lines, gets in shape for the role, and prepares his wardrobe. “Korean dramas are very particular when it comes to details, so they’re gonna ask you to prepare your wardrobe ahead of time,” Christian emphasizes. “Although productions here are always ready when it comes to wardrobe, they will ask you if you have the clothes from your end so you’ll be comfortable wearing your own clothes. But if not, they will provide it for you.”
Counting Lee Hyeri’s Miss Lee (2019) as one of his most memorable drama experiences ever, Christian recounts shooting for the drama’s poster. “The filming of the drama poster was an epic fail for me,” he says. “I didn’t know at that time that I would be part of the drama, my manager didn’t even tell me that it would be a break for me, I just knew it was a special appearance, so I initially thought [I would appear] for an episode or two. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be part of a [drama] poster. I was just surprised to be there, and even the cameraman told me to stand in the middle. I thought to myself, why would I? I’m not a star [laughs]. Little did I know that we were already filming the poster at that time, I just didn’t have any clue. I couldn’t believe it myself.”
Meeting The Stars
Working in K-dramas, it is but natural that Christian has rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest K-drama actors. When asked about his most unforgettable interaction with a star, he immediately pipes up, “For me, Song Joong-ki is the most genuine Korean actor I’ve met. When I met him on the set for his film Space Sweepers (2021), he was fresh from the marriage issue. He doesn’t speak English very well, but from all the artists that I’ve worked with, he was the only one who approached me out of nowhere, unexpectedly. In the set of Space Sweeper (2021), I would sit in a corner and read my script from other dramas quietly. Song approached me, made small talk, and invited me to sit with them. I hesitated at first because they were big stars and I was only an extra, plus there were only four chairs intended for the four main stars. Still, he guided me to where they are and even called some staff to get a chair for me. He was upset that the staff did not give me a chair, even though I told him repeatedly I’m okay in the corner. When my chair arrived, he refused to have me seated on the far end, so he told his other male co-star to sit on the far end instead, and then he made me sit in the middle. When I become quiet, he would check on me from time to time and ask if I’m okay. “Tell me if you’re not comfortable, okay? Don’t be shy, I’m here,” he said to me. That was such a special day for me, and I will never forget it.” Christian’s one-liner spoken to Song Joong-ki in the film blew up among Filipino fans on the internet.
Behind The Scenes
Of course, things don’t always go as planned. Christian confesses to having moments where he’d assumed that filming would only take 2-3 hours and made other plans. Instead, he ended up spending 10-12 hours on set. He attributes the extensive filming schedules to Koreans’ careful attention to detail and counts it as a lesson learned. Drama productions are also particular about rookie actors respecting everyone on the set—from senior actors to the staff and crew. Taking pictures is also a big no-no. Christian recounts, “I remember in 2018 I filmed The Negotiation with Son Ye-jin and Hyun Bin, and I took a picture on set and uploaded it on social media. Two days after, the manager told me to take down the photos since it’s not allowed. The only time you can upload your photos is after the scenes have aired. You can’t also take pictures with the stars. It’s restricted, and sometimes you also have to ask for their manager’s permission if you can take pictures with their artists.”
As an extra working with big-name stars, it is natural to sometimes feel lost and as if your role doesn’t matter. Christian confesses to feeling shy surrounded by powerhouse actors on the sets of Miss Lee. He reminisces about a veteran actress telling him, “Chris, be proud of yourself. There’s no such thing as small roles for a drama. So, know that regardless of how small your role is… always remember that you’re important because, without you, there will be no main actors.” Christian counts this experience as his biggest learning that taught him to appreciate his role, no matter how big or small. If he could go back in time, he would tell his younger self that dreams really are possible.
Advice For Fans
For Korean drama fans who want to go to Korea, work there, and meet their favorite stars, Christian has a few words of advice. “Aside from learning the language, it’s also important to learn the culture, especially when it comes to working ethics,” he says. “Also, they’re big on respecting the seniors. It’s very important that you greet them almost every time; before, during, and after work.” He reminisces about getting an invite to Song Joong-ki’s party but not going because he was not confident about his conversational skills. “Koreans get upset if you turn them down. I didn’t know that. So I personally went to Song’s management to apologize. Song Joong-ki didn’t mind that I didn’t go, but he joked that maybe I just didn’t want to see him. So I just said I had classes, and he quickly understood my situation but he still invited me for coffee,” he recounts. These cultural do’s and don’t’s are what most people would need to learn to be able to work in South Korea.
More about Christian: Christian Lagahit is a Filipino actor in Seoul who debuted in the Korean drama industry in 2016. Since then, he has appeared in 54 Korean dramas and 17 Korean movies in minor roles and as an extra. Aside from meeting celebrities, for him, the best part of his job is the experience of starring in a K-drama, which he takes pride in as a Filipino. To date, he is enjoying his life in the Korean entertainment industry—a life he’s always dreamed of. Follow him and his K-drama journey through his social media accounts: