Elvis devotee, once all shook up, erects shrine

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Elvis devotee, once all shook up, erects shrine

"I was on the streets of Jongno in Seoul on Aug. 16, 1977 when I first heard the news of Elvis Presley's death," said Lee Jong-jin. " I was devastated." Right away, members of Mr. Lee's Presley fan club in Korea gathered to mourn. "One of the younger members of the club said that it was better that Elvis died at an early age because he would have hated to see Elvis Presley as a grandfather," Mr. Lee remembered. "At that moment, I was so mad that I punched him in the face. However, now that I look back, what he said was an honest remark from a fan's point of view."

Mr. Lee recalls being so sad upon hearing of Elvis's death that he wanted to end his life; however, the thought of dying without listening to more Elvis songs made him think again.

Because next year marks 25 years since the death of the star, there will be many special tributes to Elvis around the world. But Mr. Lee has also chosen to remember his idol in his own way - he has run an Elvis fan club for more than 40 years, and now he is opening a memorial hall to the King.

Rumors regularly surface that Elvis might actually still be alive. For Mr. Lee, Elvis is both dead and alive - dead in the flesh, but living immortally in spirit. His great faith in Elvis led him to build his memorial in the middle of the deserted countryside in Paju, Gyeonggi province.

Mr. Lee put all of his money into building a hall dedicated to his favorite artist. The hall is named after Presley's 1962 movie "Follow That Dream." Mr. Lee hopes people of all ages will come in search of their dreams. After three years of working on it, Mr. Lee opened his memorial hall to the public last summer. In "Follow That Dream," countless documents, LP's (72, to be exact) as well as the latest DVDs and souvenirs are on display. "I once taught taekwondo to American soldiers in Dongducheon in the early 1970's.," Mr. Lee says. "In exchange for the lessons, I asked for Elvis LPs.

There is one rule for anyone who enters "Follow That Dream": If a visitor wants to listen to an album or watch a movie, he must not leave in the middle of it.

Mr. Lee explains, "I just can't stand it when people leave after listening to one song when another great one is on its way."



by Choe Jae-hee

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