ICYMI: Sang Heon Lee of ‘XO, Kitty’ fame and Julia Barretto have been teasing a “secret project” on social media. Something’s in the air—food, a new team-up, and a major pop culture moment, perhaps?
New global team-up alert! Sang Heon Lee and Julia Barretto have been spotted out and about around Manila and on social media for a few days now, inviting speculation about a potential special collaboration involving the two. The South Korean actor even posted an Instagram Story with an apron-wearing Julia, captioned with “#secretproject”.
Whatever the two are cooking up, the hype is real. Julia Barretto is a media mainstay, a young actress with plenty of movie and series titles under her belt, and Sang Heon Lee has earned plenty of attention for his portrayal of Minho on Netflix series XO, Kitty. (We’re sure you saw that video of Kitty and Minho on your social media feeds last year.) A collaboration with the two could be anything from a sweet and playful rom-com to a traveling reality series. In any case, we’ve rounded up everything we know about this ~secret project~ and made a few speculations as well as to what we think it might be.
A COLLAB IS FOR SURE
We’re just stating the obvious here, but clearly the two are working together on a project set in the Philippines. They’ve been spotted out and about at least twice, and plenty of Instagram stories like Gabby Padilla‘s feature them together, working on their yet-to-be-known project.
IT LOOKS LIKE IT INVOLVES FOOD
From the Instagram story teaser where Julia’s wearing an apron and her taking cooking lessons to Sang Heon posting all about the food he’s been eating around Manila, we’re thinking this special secret project has something to do with cuisine. And if we’re accurate, this project comes right on the heels of the success of 2023 Netflix series Replacing Chef Chico, meaning the diversity and of Filipino cuisine could once again be highlighted on screens.
JULIA’S BEEN TAKING COOKING LESSONS FOR A NEW PROJECT
To beef up our prediction that the project involves food, here’s Julia’s post about learning some cooking at the Magsaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts (MIHCA), where she captioned it “Learning something new, for something new. 👩🏻🍳🤍🎬.” Coincidence? When this was posted around the same time Sang Heon was first in Manila? We think not.
SANG HEON’S BEEN IN MANILA FOR A BIT
OMG!!!! #sangheonlee is in the Philippines 😍That tricycle at the back is very iconic🤣 I never thought that you'd visit our Country. Hope you had a wonderful stay here Sang Heon Lee 😘#Sangheonlee#XOkitty #Netflix pic.twitter.com/CENX00uBMS— Arni_Patoootie (@blues_shattered) January 16, 2024
Adding to the collab factor is that Sang Heon’s just been walking the streets of Metro Manila the last few days. He looks to be having a fun time eating at different places, trying out street food and Andok’s lechon manok. The actor has also dropped by some climbing gyms in the Metro, posting his sends on his climbing account @climb_nice on Instagram! He’s climbed at The Bouldering Hive and Climb Central Manila. In one of his posts, he revealed that he was in the Philippines to shoot, and that his first day of shooting was barely a week ago.
So, what exactly are these two shooting together? We have some thoughts:
MAYBE A ROM-COM
❌ Nag-roadtrip para magbakasyon ✅ Nag-roadtrip para tawagin ang mga 👽 #LoveYouToTheStarsAndBack #joshuagarcia #juliabarretto #romcom #movies #fyp♬ original sound – ABS-CBN
We all know Julia Barretto holds her own as a rom-com leading lady, what with her roles in Vince and Kath and James (2016) and Love You To The Stars And Back (2017), to name a couple. Sang Heon, on the other hand, has also shown his own rom-com acting chops as the “second lead” (with potential to be more in the upcoming second season) in XO, Kitty. While we know nothing yet of the project itself, much less their chemistry, putting them together in a rom-com would be nothing short of interesting.
MAYBE A SERIES
All just speculation, of course, but all their hints and clues (and Sang Heon’s implication on his climbing post that there were more days of filming ahead) could lead to more than just a quick commercial or anything of the sort. Here’s to hoping it’s a series, as the rise of streaming services and K-dramas prove there’s a huge audience for episodic content, and a mash-up of a Pinoy teleserye and a K-drama would definitely eat. And even if it’s simply just a collab like on a YouTube show where they cook, we’d still be seated.
HOPEFULLY A DELICIOUS BLEND OF CULTURES
As Philippine and South Korean cultures cross over into each other through pop culture—and never has products of such crossovers been more frequent and abundant than now—an added bonus is being able to see how these different influences create something unique but with all the charm of both cultures. So from food to relationships, hopefully this secret project serves up something filling.