Friday, November 26, 2004

Korean star creates Tokyo frenzy

Korean star creates Tokyo frenzy

Korean actor Bae Yong-joon has been greeted by 7,000 screaming fans on a visit to the Japanese capital Toyko.

The 32-year-actor, who has starred in hit television dramas shown in Japan, is known as Yong Sama - a name which means "royalty" in Japanese.

The star has become one of the most popular actors in Japan due to a fashion for all things Korean.

Bae has become a household name for his role in Winter Sonata, a soap opera which scored huge ratings.

The actor said he was worried before making the trip to Tokyo.

Love affair

"I could hardly sleep last night. I was worried there would be so many fans that they might hurt themselves," he said.

The thousands of mainly middle-aged female fans who turned out to see Bae either cried or grabbed pictures of him on their mobile phones.

Japan's love affair with Korea follows a tense history between the two nations, after the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910-45.

But the popularity of recent Korean soap operas has strengthened the sense of cultural affinity between the two countries.

Around 100,000 Japanese women are expected to go on tours of South Korea which feature locations from Winter Sonata.

The dramas usually feature traditional Asian values like repsect for parents, plus romance and nostalgia.

Critics have called the soap operas "soppy", and said that Japanese people should concentrate on changing their attitudes to ethnic Koreans who live in Japan.

link: BBC

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I watched Winter Sonata (겨울연가 in Korean) 3 years ago. I liked it much. Also my homestay mother who is from Italy watched it in 2002 when I was in Vancouver. She told me that it was a very sad story but she liked this kind of thing too much.

I've thought about the reasons that many Korea dramas are based on sadness.

One of them could be that Korean people have been suffering from hidden sorrowful memories from the eras of the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsular, Korean War and the ruling of militarists. Thus, perhaps sad stories can touch a string in their heart.

I like Jazz and Blues too. It seems to me that Korean grief would be the same spirit as Blues and negro spirituals.

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