Romantic tale appeals, particularly to JapaneseThe stampede began when part of the crowd moved to one side of the hall, closely followed by masses more. Although security guards blocked many, some determined fans managed to jostle through the human barricade, yelling, “Look up here, Mr. Bae.”
“Yonsama” fever returned to Seoul on Tuesday. Korean actor Bae Yong-joon, who has made countless Asian housewives swoon over his pearly white smile and earned the honorific of Yonsama in Japan, appeared for the premiere of his new film, “April Snow.”
Flashes popped as the stage lighting crew and cameramen trotted backward with their equipment, clearing Mr. Bae’s way into a theater in the COEX building, Samseong-dong. He walked in smiling widely.
The premiere was open to both local and international media. Producers estimated about 500 people from domestic media outlets had come to the event while approximately another 400 from outlets abroad registered beforehand to attend the limited showing and a subsequent press conference.
About 150 of the foreign reporters were from the Japanese media, while others interested in Yonsama’s new film included press from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.
Unlike many Korean movie premieres, press releases were handed out in both English and Japanese, and an English interpretation was available during the entire conference.
The film was directed by Hur Jin-ho who is known for beautiful backdrops in his melodramatic features, including his previous works “Christmas in August” and “One Fine Spring Day.” “April Snow” again featured stunning scenic views as it described the illicit romance between In-su (Bae Yong-joon) and Seo-young (Son Ye-jin) as romantically as possible. From a tea house to a cheap motel in a provincial town, in every place they stayed, everything was portrayed as cozy and delicate.
The movie portrays a man and woman discovering their spouses had been having an affair when they find them lying together in a hospital emergency room, unconscious after being involved in a fatal car accident.
As the uninjured couple spend time visiting their spouses in the hospital, they spend more time together and fall in love.
“I was so nervous, I couldn’t watch the completed film yet,” said Bae Yong-joon to the hundreds of reporters before him. It seems he won’t have to worry about disappointing his foreign fans.
In contrast to the domestic response, the foreign reporters were generally positive and some praised the beauty of the film’s outcome. Many local reporters commented that the film did not live up to their expectations.
“Japanese fans at home are counting the days until the opening of this film,” a Japanese reporter stated. “I felt uneasy as I was worried the bed scene between Mr. Bae and Ms. Son might have too much exposure but I was relieved that it was rather beautiful.” The audience laughed and she continued. “Can you please tell your Japanese fans it is totally safe to watch your film?”
“It is very safe to watch this film,” Mr. Bae answered and the crowd laughed again.
“Although the film was not groundbreaking, it sure made Mr. Bae look very nice in it,” Patrick Frater, an Asia Editor from Variety, said. “It looks like the film will gain popularity among the Asian fans.”
During the screening and press conference, a group of Yonsama’s Japanese fans waited in the hallway - for over five hours.
“I saw him. I saw him,” one middle-aged Japanese woman gasped, covering her mouth with her hands in surprise. The woman, who said she was from Okinawa, disappeared in the crowd as more fans rushed forward to see the Asian celebrity go by.
Another woman, from Tokyo, said she had bought an “expensive ticket” to attend the preview and press conference then found out her ticket was only good for an evening preview after Yonsama had left.
“I am so angry, but I am waiting,” she said, and hoped she might see him in the hallway anyway.
by Lee Min-a