중앙데일리

Bae Yong-joon wows them in Japan

Oct 01,2009
A total of 45,000 people filled the stands of the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan at the 2010-2012 “Visit Korea Year” promotional event featuring actor Bae Yong-joon, Korea Tourism Organization President Lee Charm and Korean Ambassador to Japan Kwon Chul-hyeon. Provided by the Visit Korea Year Committee
TOKYO - Bae Yong-joon, widely recognized by his Japanese nickname “Yon-sama,” boasted his popularity in Japan at a party celebrating the release of his latest book in the Tokyo Dome last night.

The event was attended by 45,000 people who waited hours in a lengthy queue. The audience included Miyuki Hatoyama, wife of Japan’s new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, as well as leading Japanese political and government figures. Mrs. Hatoyama has dubbed herself an “avid fan” of Korean culture - entertainment in particular - which is represented by the phrase “Korean wave,” or hallyu.

Bae, an actor and entrepreneur, was promoting his latest book, “A Trip in Search of Korea’s Beauty,” a compilation of his essays about traditional Korean culture. Its 50,000-book first edition sold out through advance orders on Monday, the day sales began. According to his promoters, Bae took tours around various parts of Korea and experienced traditional cultural activities and food on his own to author the book.

Along with the book publishing event, the Visit Korea Committee, an agency under the Korean government, announced that 2010 through 2012 will be designated a special period for the Japanese to visit Korea.

Lee Charm, president of the Korea Tourism Organization, pledged to tackle transportation issues in Korea, which tourists have consistently complained about.

Bae, who has been named PR ambassador for “Visit Korea,” told the audience about the attraction of Korean food and mentioned the World Food Culture Festival to be held late next year in North Jeolla Province.

Keiko Kurokawa, 68, said she became a fan of Bae after watching “Winter Sonata.”

“My interested in him has stretched to the Korean culture, food, society and history,” she said. She said she has visited Korea five times so far and plans to visit again to take a look around the regions Bae introduced in his book.

Yon-sama rose to hallyu stardom in 2002, as his Korean TV drama Winter Sonata was a huge hit in Japan. Riding the wave of his popularity, local entertainers, movies and TV dramas increasingly gained fans in the neighboring country, especially among elderly women. They say they have been enchanted by the romantic, charismatic qualities of Korean dramas’ male characters. The local pop culture sensation has lured tens of thousands of Japanese tourists annually to Korea.


By Park So-young, Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]




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