‘April Snow’ refuels ‘Yonsama’ passionsWherever Bae Yong-joon is, there too are his many passionate Japanese housewives ― his housewife fans that is.
No sooner was the fervor over the popular television drama “Winter Sonata,” over, than the recent romantic movie, “April Snow,” starring the South Korean actor, quickly refueled the Japanese housewives’ frenzy.
The fans were in attendance during the entire shooting of the film and they are still here in Korea, “oohing” and “aahing” over each setting Mr. Bae appeared at in the film.
“Its not only the setting of the film they [the Japanese women] are interested in, but anything to do with Yonsama,” Kim Hyeon-yong, a travel agent for KCL Tour, said, using the actor's honorific Japanese nickname. “We have to keep up to date with what the actor did and where to satisfy our customers.”
Mr. Kim's agency used to organize tours around old Korean palaces in Seoul, but now it is one of many small firms that have started relying on a new program taking advantage of Yonsama fever as the number of the actor’s fans visiting Korea fails to decline. Mr. Kim said his agency now survives on a package dubbed the “Bae Yong-joon Tour.”
Along with visits to sites at which Yonsama appeared on film, the 3-day tour consists of taking the Japanese fans to restaurants the actor likes to dine in, Mr. Kim said.
“They [the fans] are most happy when they hear anecdotes related to Yonsama and his social life,” he added.
Samcheok city government in Gangwon province is also delighted that Japanese housewives visiting the area have spent more than 4 billion won ($4 million) in the city during the past few months. Most of the filming of “April Snow” took place in Samcheok in February.
Ryu Jae-ho, head of the tourist department at Samcheok local government, said one place that the tourists never failed to visit was a small Korean restaurant where Mr. Bae frequently ate meals during the shooting of the movie.
The restaurant now sells a “Bae Yong-joon Korean meal course,” a 10,000-won set meal with steamed rice and about 20 side dishes Mr. Bae had eaten there, he said.
An apartment in Seoul has become a popular attraction for the Japanese fans as well. It featured in the film as the home of Mr. Bae's character.
“I don’t know how these fans found out that my house was used in the movie, but more and more of them started visiting me each day, asking if they could come in and have a peek,” said Kim Nam-in, the owner of the four-room apartment in Mokdong, western Seoul.
She said the Japanese women liked to sit and have pictures taken on her living room sofa and also in front of a desk in her study, because that’s where Mr. Bae was filmed most of the time.
“I couldn’t turn them away knowing they have come such a long way just to come here,” she said. “They looked so happy when they were here.”
She said tour agencies are now calling her to suggest that she charge people who want a “tour” around her house.
“I don’t know about taking admission fees, because I don’t want to commercialize my house,” she said. “But I have to think about continue letting the people in.”
Although she said she was enjoying the fans’ visits so far, she said she was worried her neighbors might not.
by Lee Min-a, Kim Ho-jung