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Seo In Guk and Francine Diaz Join Forces for a Dreamy Collaboration

The story behind the one-of-a-kind music collaboration that pleasantly surprised many, straight from the South Korean A-lister and the Filipino young star

The glowing afternoon sun bathes a makeshift garage music lounge setup.

Through the haze, we see a young lady emerge with a pen and notebook. She sits on the couch while mulling what to write, deeply inspired by a poetry book she had just finished reading.

An old soul, she reaches for the vintage typewriter her siblings gave her as a birthday gift years back and tries to collect her thoughts and put them into writing.

But the afternoon heat makes her feel like taking a nap, and without realizing it, she’s soon asleep.

This young ladyーwith her interests in reading books, writing, and pretty much anything vintageーis Francine Diaz in a fictional setting and scenario. 

In the next sequence, the character wakes up to a dreamy reality. An extraordinary manーa superstarーmakes his way to her.

Thinking she’s dreaming, she rubs her eyes, but the man is closer now. Playing the guitar, he sings, “My love, you’ll be the sunshine for me.” His smile as bright as the sunshine. 

She rubs her eyes once more, as she tries to make sense of what’s happening.

“I hope I’m not dreaming,” she tells herself. “But if this is a dream, I don’t want to wake up anymore.” 

She pinches herself. He’s real, she realizes. There, in a quiet corner, they’re indeed together, making music and memories to warm the heart and soul. 

Seo In Guk and Francine Diaz on the cover of Metro - "My Love" collaboration
On Francine: Ensemble by KENZO from Cul de Sac | Photography by Gee Plamenco, Jr.

So real, surreal

This next chapter is no fiction or make-believe, although it’s so surreal it could make for an engaging plot of a K-drama, of which Francine is a huge fan. 

Francine is considered one of the most sought-after young artists in the Philippine entertainment scene today. The top-rated afternoon TV series Kadenang Ginto was her breakthrough project, where she made a mark with her character, Cassie Mondragon. Her shows that followedーHuwag Kang Mangamba, Bola-Bola, Dirty Linen, and Fracturedーfurther proved her acting abilities and boosted her popularity. With almost 15 million combined online following from Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube alone, as of this writing, and a slew of endorsements, in the local showbiz universe, she’s among the brightest young stars; with her TikTok and X online following included, her online following adds up to close to a whopping 24 million!

But Francine is a fangirl at heart, too一no stranger to getting star-struck. That’s exactly what she felt when she first met Hallyu A-lister Seo In Guk. “Nu’ng nakita ko siya, ang tangkad niyang tingnan sa akin. So, ako, parang feeling ko langgam lang ako” [“When I saw him, he looked so tall to me, so I felt like an ant”],” Francine giggles, admitting she was a bit intimidated by his strong presence. Besides, it’s not everyday that one gets to meet an international star. 

How they met is the kind of story you’d think only exists in shows. In August of last year, Seo In Guk held a record-breaking three-hour fan meet in Manila, where he met Francine’s manager, John Ling. His agent happens to be friends with John, and over dinner, In Guk told John he wanted to work with his artist. Frankly, John told In Guk that Francine is not really a singer but she can carry a tune. Despite that, In Guk felt their dynamic would work.

Though admittedly not confident about how her singing abilities would match Seo In Guk’s “magical” voice, Francine has had experience recording music. Last year, Original Pinoy Music (OPM) icon Jamie Rivera tapped her as one of the artists to team up with for her inspirational song “Faith, Hope and Love.” But back in 2019, at the height of her series Kadenang Ginto’s popularity, the then 15-year-old recorded the song “Pag-Ibig” as part of The Gold Squad Album. In Guk happened to have heard this song by Francine and thought she was good. 

Pag-ibig” (or “love”), it turned out, would be instrumental in their friendship and music partnership.

Seo In Guk and Francine Diaz on the cover of Metro - "My Love" collaboration
On Seo In Guk: Outerwear by Satur, pants by Lemard, shoes by Yase, and belt by Supreme | Photography by Gee Plamenco, Jr.

“Seo” in love 

Seo In Guk’s trip to Manila, Philippines last year marked the first time he held a fan meet in Southeast Asia. But it wasn’t the first time he visited the country; in 2013, he filmed the movie No Breathing in Davao City. 

Seo In Guk is one of the Hallyu superstars who dabble in both acting and singing. Since debuting in 2009 by winning in the talent reality show Superstar K, he’s been passionately expanding his acting and music repertoire. As an actor, he’s popular for K-dramas like Reply 1997 (2012), High School King of Savvy (2014), Shopping King Louie (2016), The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (2018), Doom at Your Service (2021), and Cafe Minamdang (2022). He also starred in the movies Pipeline (2021) and Project Wolf Hunting (2022). His latest acting project is the fantasy reincarnation web series Death’s Game.

Among his most recent endeavors is a theater comeback, where he was cast in the lead role of Edmond Dantes in the musical Monte Cristo; this project came 11 years after he first tried out theater acting through Gwanghwamun Love Song in 2012.

But even though he seemed to have been focused on acting, Seo In Guk didn’t forget his passion for music, which is what paved the way for him to penetrate the entertainment industry in the first place. He first released a studio album, titled Everlasting, in 2014. This was followed by a long list of compilation and single albums, as well as EPs and singles. 

After releasing the single “Better Together” in 2017, he took a five-year hiatus in music. That’s what made his LOVE&LOVE album extra special. This music comeback in 2022 marked his first solo release in five years. The album features three tracks: “My Love” (featuring rapper Ravi), “Be My Melody,” and “My Love” (instrumental). 

“My Love” evokes feelings of longing and caring deeply for another person. In Guk wrote it, saying, “I felt that with track, I could deliver a small cheer up [even] in a sad way. [It’s my way of] trying to touch their hearts.”

The dreamy and emotional R&B track gets an edgy treatment with the rap parts of Ravi. While their collaboration sounded amazing, In Guk went back to the core of the song and came up with the brilliant idea of turning it into a male-female duet song. This is where Francine enters the picture. 

Reintroducing “My Love”

Seo In Guk and Francine Diazーit’s a collaboration we didn’t know we needed but are absolutely here for. It’s so unexpected, but sometimes the best things happen unexpectedly. 

Hindi ko masyado in-expect na mapu-push through itong collaboration kasi sabi ko, hindi kaya sobrang laking step for me? And as an actress na acting lang talaga ako, biglang papasok ng singing. But ’yun, ’yung sinabi nila sa akin na tuloy and he really wanted to do it with me, of course, nagulat ako and hanggang ngayon, I’m still on cloud nine [“I didn’t really expect that the collaboration would push through because I thought, isn’t it such a huge step for me? And as an actress, who only focuses on acting, I’d suddenly go into singing. But when they told me it was really going to push through and he really wanted to work with me, of course, I was shocked. Till now, I’m still on cloud nine”],” Francine shared.

An established Korean entertainment figure like In Guk helping a young Filipino artist like Francine explore her skills shows how music can connect people despite the distance and the language barrier. Music and love are universal languages and with their collaboration, In Guk is bringing “My Love” closer to his legion of Filipino fans.

The song’s new version features English lyrics by Seo In Guk, Pak Kyung Hyun, and Mo Sang Hoon. “This song is actually from my previously released album. It’s a solo song that features a rap portion,” In Guk told Metro.Style. “This time, as I worked with Francine, I had a great time during the process of turning it into a male-female duet song. The song’s content is about love so I worked on it, thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to make it like a conversation that talks about love and goes back and forth about love?’ and that process was just so much fun… I’m very thankful that I got to do that with Francine.”

“My Love” takes a new form while retaining what In Guk phrases as “lovely, loving vibes.”  

He describes, “This song is quite like having a cup of coffee on a warm sunny day while waiting for a confession from someone you love or while preparing to confess your love or while confessing.”

It’s such a relatable song, even tinged with nostalgia with memories of that first crush, first love, or one true love.

We asked Francine how this song resonated with her. She mused, “Kapag nagkakaroon ka ng crush before一as in crush lang naman talaga, happy crush一’yung hino-hope mo na sana mabalikyung feeling nayun,” she began explaining. “Kaya may favorite part ako du’n sa kanta namin, ‘I hope you feel the same,’ kasi relatable siya for me.” [“When you’d have a crush before, as in just crush, happy crush, you were hoping for your feelings to be reciprocated. That’s why I have a favorite part in our song, ‘I hope you feel the same,’ because it’s relatable for me.”]

While evocative of deep emotions anchored on passionate love, “My Love” is also a lighthearted track, thanks in part to Francine’s sweet voice.

Francine described, “’Yung kanta na ito, nakaka-happy siya. Nakaka-boost ng energy and may love ka talagang mafi-feel ’pag narining mo siya.” [“It makes you feel happy. It boosts your energy, and you’ll really feel the love when you hear it.”]

Seo In Guk and Francine Diaz on the cover of Metro - "My Love" collaboration
On Francine: Top by YSL and bottom by Miyama Uno by Karen Ono | Photography by Gee Plamenco Jr.

That music, food, and human connection

In Guk and Francine recorded the song together in South Korea last December. Meeting him for the first time then, Francine thought he was snobbish, but she couldn’t have been more wrong. “Since he’s from Korea and we know he’s a superstar, I felt a bit intimidated by his aura. But that changed when I saw that he was really nice, very friendly,” she told us.

In Guk, on the other hand, summarizes his first impression of Francine as “cute.” He said, “First of all, she was very cute. I found her to be cute. Yes, and she had this loving vibe about her. And when I looked up some of her previous works and pictures from her previous shoots, unlike her first impressions, I got this charismatic vibe from her as well. I realized that she has quite the versatile personality.”

At the recording studio, aside from being co-artists, there was a refreshing mentor-mentee relationship that bloomed too. 

Having In Guk guide and take care of her in the recording studio was a core memory for Francine. “Sobrang tutok niya sa akin. Hindi niya ako pinabayaan du’n kasi nafi-feel din niya, nakikita rin niya that I was really nervous. Tapos may fear din talaga na baka hindi ko magawa nang maayos,” she recalled.

But that’s what’s nice about a collaboration. There’s always room for improvement and inputs are welcome because, at the end of the day, the collaborators strive to be on the same wavelength and on the same page to reach their goal. 

“There were parts in the song where it really was difficult to stay on beat,” In Guk said. “The beats in those parts were really difficult and when she was having trouble with them, there were times I went in to teach her the beats, or I’d be outside and I’d clap so we’d find the beat in the process. That was also fun.” 

It wasn’t only Francine who learned a thing or two from this collaboration though. In Guk also realized that in collaborations like this, “what matters more is how people connect with one another.” And that’s thanks to the generous serving of good vibes Francine brought to the recording studio.

“She always met me, welcomed me with this bright energy. That made me feel really great,” he shared. “Then when we were working on the song, on parts where she would make mistakes or parts where it takes time… When going through all of that, with this optimistic energy that she brought, she made everyone in that space feel good and I was very grateful for that. On those parts, even though she’s younger than me, I learned on the site that she’s that kind of person and that I should learn from her on that part. So, I thought that she’s really an amazing person.”

With a collaboration between a South Korean and a Filipino, the most obvious challenge is the language barrier. But language is not limited to spoken words; there are body language, facial expressions, and music as the universal language. 

Francine opened up, “S’yempre, ako, parang isa sa mga expectations ko since it’s a collaboration ng Filipino and Korean, baka may distance kasi, ’yun nga, ang hirap ng conversation. Iba rin naman kasi ang humor ng Filipino sa Korean, so thankful ako na hindi siya mahirap pakisamahan and madali rin siyang makisama. He’s really kind. He’s nice. He’s funny.” [“One of my expectations since it’s a collaboration between a Filipino and a Korean, perhaps there’d be some sort of distance because the conversation is hard. And the humor of Filipinos is different from the humor of Koreans, so I’m thankful that he’s not hard to deal with and he’s good at getting along with people. He’s really kind. He’s nice. He’s funny.”]

Interestingly, even seemingly small things can create a big impact on a project. The language of food was also among the ingredients that made this collaboration work. In a vlog about his short trip to the Philippines, we discovered that he loves chicken, as he sampled Bacolod-style chicken inasal. Francine also happens to love chicken. 

The bond they formed as they shared conversations over their favorite food was a standout memory for the two. In the middle of the recording, In Guk recalled, “We got hungry so we ordered [fried] chicken. It was something she really liked. In Korea, we called ‘Dul Dul Chicken,’ but she knew it as ‘Two Two Chicken.’ I found that really interesting and those were moments that stuck with me.” “Two” in Korean is “dul.”

Seo In Guk and Francine Diaz on the cover of Metro - "My Love" collaboration
On Seo In Guk: Gray knit top, beige jacket, and denim pants all by Recto, shoes (as seen in the photo gallery) by Sonshinbal | Photography by Gee Plamenco, Jr.

Labor of love

Francine wrapped up 2023 with that memorable workcation to South Korea. Sharing snaps from that wintry trip, she shared with her social media followers that the year gave her many “good and bad memories.” “Everything happens for a reason,” she wrote. “We should live it, love it, and learn from it, because that’s life, people come, people go, you cry, you smile, you get exhausted, then you fight again.”

She had to let go of some people, but she gained new friends like In Guk. She welcomed 2024 happy, at peace, and thrilled for what’s to come. 

Last January 20, much to everyone’s surprise, she posted a TikTok video of her dancing with In Guk, hinting at their collaboration. The post has since gone viral, currently with 9.6 million views on Francine's Instagram account. 

There’s a reason why their paths crossed. For Francine, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime to somehow represent the Philippines in the international music scene. For In Guk, it’s like a love letter to his Filipino fans. 

Francine said, “I hope nayung love na ibibigay namin sa inyo ay maramdaman po ninyo.” [“I hope that you’ll all feel the love we’ll give you.”]

Seo In Guk and Francine Diaz’s song collaboration, “My Love,” will be released on March 2, along with the music video they filmed in the Philippines. 

From the Philippines to South Korea and back to the Philippines, this collaboration has come a long way. As a nation of passionate Hallyu fans, this project makes one hopeful for more collaborations to connect these cultures. 

Seo In Guk and Francine Diaz on the cover of Metro - "My Love" collaboration
On Seo In Guk: Top and bottom by Stu, shoes by Dr. Martens, necklace by Scudo, and bangle by Quarqor / On Francine: Strapless dress by Debbie Co | Photography by Gee Plamenco, Jr.

The young lady wakes up from a beautiful dream. She doesn’t want the dream to end, but it’s time to wake up. 

She smiles and finds herself craving chicken. 

She turns the radio on, and a romantic song is on. 

“The only one who owns my heart”

“My love, my love’s with you”

Stay here forevermore”

It’s a duet. 

She sits by the window and takes in the view on this warm sunny day. 

She takes a sip of her coffee and smiles, as she recalls happy memories of her recording in a studio from a not-so-distant past.

Photographer: Gee Plamenco Jr.

Videographer: Spotlight Creatives

Creative direction: Randz Manucom

Editor-in-chief: Geolette Esguerra

Sittings editors: Red Dimaandal, Grace Libero-Cruz, and Kate Paras-Santiago

Multimedia producer: CJ Reyes 

Editorial assistant: Mika Yusay

Contributing fashion stylist: Edlene Cabral

Grooming for Seo In-Guk: Ahn Hongmoon

Hairstyling for Seo In-Guk: 515 Team

Styling for Seo In-Guk: Kim Hyub

Makeup for Francine: RB Chanco, assisted by Kaith Torres 

Hairstyling for Francine: Brent Sales

Styling for Francine: Drew Lacia, assisted by Gelo Cruz, Arlie Salagantin, and Michelle Go

Photography assistants: Aaron Ongkingco, Warren Diotay, and Chris Cantos

Set design: Tipping Point Collective

Translator: Gi Hea Kim

Shot on location at G Studios

Special thanks to Lee GunaeJohn Ling, Johnny Yeo, Star MagicArcy’s Kitchen, and Jabroni’s NYC Pizza