<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d8804308\x26blogName\x3d:+:+Simply+Bae+Yong+Joon+:+:\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dSILVER\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://luvjoon.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://luvjoon.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d204531598603538927', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Monday, November 28, 2005

. . what a storm . .

[Trans] Yesterday, BYJ Tornado Swept Past

Original in Chinese: Chen Bing Wen / Beijing Night Paper 12.11.2005
Translated into English: Happiebb / www.joonsfamily.com




Yesterday, BYJ Tornado Swept Past ....[Beijing]

As if he had already prepared for it, Bae Yong Joon looked at the hundreds of Bae-fans waiting for him at the multi-purpose hall at the Beijing Hotel and halted in his steps. He smiled at them and bowed slightly before walking up the stage with such graceful and elegant strides.

Once up the stage, he stood steadily with his bright and cheery smile and waved once again at the Chinese media and the Bae-fans who tried all ways and means to get into the press conference. Beautiful stance, beautiful smile brought about excited screams from the floor.

That was Bae Yong Joon, with his politeness and handsome smile, giving you a sense of warmth. Despite the distance, he felt friendly and gave rise to unlimited imagination. And before you knew it, he had already touched you, moved you.

For the China premiere of his movie April Snow, the handsome movie star who had created such a frenzy throughout Asia Bae Yong Joon stepped onto the soil of Beijing for the first time. His arrival brought about a Bae Yong Joon tornado, sweeping across the entire capital of China.

For his China trip, Bae Yong Joon had done his homework. During the dinner party, he met with the famous director Zhang Yimou and the just-as-famous movie man, Zhang Wei Ping, he was visibly excited. He presented his photo book to Zhang Yimou and asked for his autograph. [bb: I don't quite understand this part. If The Image was a present for Zhang, why would Yong Joon ask Zhang to autograph on it? I suspect the reporter made a mistake here, probably Yong Joon had asked Zhang to sign on the Hero DVD :) ]

He asked the interpreter to help convey to Zhang his wish: Zhang Yimou is the Chinese director he admires most, and he looks forward to working with him. Thereafter, he actually used mandarin to say it was Zhang's birthday that day. That moved Zhang tremendously. Bae Yong Joon accepted Zhang's invitation to attend the global premiere
of Zhang's movie Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles at Lijiang next month.

The beauty of Bae Yong Joon is in his mannerism and his grace. The must-have smile, and how polite and proper his conduct is. The cameras that kept flashing at Bae Yong Joon like snowflakes, surprisingly, made him rather shy and slightly embarrassed. He would raise his hand to touch and prop up his glasses, he would touch his hair a little, and even such gestures would bring about excited sounds from the floor.

And Bae Yong Joon would not disappoint you. His opening lines were all spoken in Mandarin: "Hello, everyone, I'm Bae Yong Joon. Thank you for your support, and thank you for supporting my movie." That immediately reduced the gap, the distance and everyone added points to his image mentally.

I was observing Bae Yong Joon, he sat very properly, he stood very 'correctly',
and when he was not talking, he would clasp his hands together and place them upon his legs and listen very attentively and intently. And if he stood up, he would smile first, raise himself to full length and then walk to wherever he needed to. He was ever so courteous and he would always give way to people, everything he did was proper, was appropriate.

The five big tour coaches of Bae-fans from Japan, Taiwan and Korea stood and waited outside the restaurant where he was having dinner. They stood unwavering in the cold,
just to catch one more glimpse of the man. Bae Yong Joon waved his thanks at them.
Bae-fans all behaved in an orderly manner; they would watch their idol get into the car before they boarded their own transport. The love and how unwilling they were to leave him were unspoken, but evident. The beauty of Bae Yong Joon is in his speech, the way he spoke and the things he said. Everything he said could touch the hearts of his fans.

Yesterday at about noon time, one could feel the fever of the fans the very moment Bae Yong Joon stepped off the plane. From old ladies in their sixties to young girls in their teens, thousands of people were waiting to receive him at the airport. Bae Yong Joon is truly an idol whose fans'age ranges from the very young to the not-so-young. The label "Auntie slayer" the Chinese media gave him seemed to please him. He flashed his killer smile once again and said in Mandarin, "I'm really thankful to them." Bae Yong Joon said, "This is the first time I've come to Beijing,
and I can see so many people coming to see me. I'm just so very sorry the time I could spend with them was too short, too little The next time, I will surely fight for more time with them. I will remember the power of their love." These words warmed the fans' hearts and kept echoing in their minds too.

Someone could not resist asking Bae Yong Joon what type of girls he likes Bae Yong Joon did not shy away from the question, he said he likes girls who are honest and sincere, and who are reliable and trustworthy. Basically, he's looking for the sort who is decent and good inside and out. His answer won him yet another round of applause.

The beauty of Bae Yong Joon can bring forth to people much imagination, the scope and strength are truly limitless. His looks has an appeal that is unisex, combining sensitivity, vulnerability, grace and elegance as well as a positive and cheerful disposition. All these combined in the body of a middle-aged man to become the object of desire for modern women.

I took the opportunity to interview some matured Bae-fans:

Why, why do you love Bae Yong Joon so much?

Their replies were just as interesting.

"Bae Yong Joon doesn't have that sort of aggression that most men have. He??s so gentle and tender. You will want to spoil him, care for him."

"He leaves me with much imagination. He will make you feel generous and tolerant, he will bring you warmth."

The fan club from Beijing presented flowers for Bae Yong Joon, they said, "To look at Bae Yong Joon is to feel happiness. It's a very unique feeling, this sense of happiness and joy cannot be replaced. There's no need for words between us.
The sense of warmth between us will just happen."

There's nothing magical about Bae Yong Joon.

What's magical is how he has a magnetic presence that slowly touches you and eventually overcomes you. It's irresistible, it's mesmerizing.

. . heartache . .

Source: www.xiao-tong.net



2004 Japan Trip: If you remember, YJ was down with heavy flu when he first visited Japan last year, but in order not to disappoint his fans, he insist to visit Japan despite being so sick. He had to be on water drip (if that is what u called.. hmmm, pls correct me if I'm wrong) even on his rest time..



*heartache*

Friday, November 25, 2005

. . total awe . .

You... have got to watch this clip.. seriously..

Was speechless when watching this clip coz I was in total awe. See the way he treats every lady he ever met or worked with, you will know why he is such a lady-killer. Got me right there just by watching the clip..


. . . He's da man . . .



Can't view? Click here to download -> Clip

Thursday, November 24, 2005

. . winter sonata a big hit . .

Why is Winter Sonata a Big Hit in Asia?
By Diana Lee
Published by Koreanfilm.org
Source: http://uniorb.com/ATREND/Awinter.html



What is it about Winter Sonata that touches so many women of all ages throughout Asia? Upon a closer scrutiny, this Korean TV drama series offers more than a complex love story, intriguing plot twists, good acting, memorable scenes and lines, not to mention, breathtaking winter scenery backed up by melancholic music tunes. Under the crafty direction of Yun Seok Ho, the series presented a mastery of cinematic techniques tugging at one's heartstrings, like the sound and visual effects of a big screen effectively capturing one's imagination. Moreover, it addressed the perennial theme of love in all its complexity in our ever-changing society.

Unlike most tragedies with a sad ending, Winter Sonata reached a bittersweet conclusion even though everyone who had intimate connection with the two main characters paid the heavy price of emotional and mental agony. The story opened with Joon Sang portrayed by Bae Yong Jun in his finest performance and Yu Jin, played by the talented Choi Ji Woo, as two high school students who fell in love for the first time. Unfortunately, their ill-fated love suffered a cruel blow as our hero soon died in a car accident, leaving our heroine heart-broken and dispirited. Ten years later, Yu Jin found herself working on a ski resort project with Min Yeong who looked exactly like Joon Sang. Oddly enough, he was courting Yu Jin's high school rival, Chae Lin, deftly played by Park Sol Mi. Consequently, Yu Jin's uncontrollable attraction to Min Yeong jeopardized her engagement to her childhood admirer, Sang Hyuk, played by Park Yong Ha, who in conspiracy with Chae Lin, tried everything to separate the two destined lovers. When the truth came out that Min Yeong and Joon Sang were the same person and worse still, the suspicion that Joon Sang and Yu Jin were half-brother and sister, everyone involved was thrown into utter confusion, resulting in grief and detrimental pain.

Following the success of directing the TV drama series, Autumn Tales, Yun Seok Ho demonstrated his supremacy in making melodramas using symbolism, parallelism, repetition, and timing, as provocative ways to stir emotions and draw tears from the audience. The main symbols in Winter Sonata - the star Polaris (representing Joon Sang), the missing puzzle piece (representing Yu Jin in Joon Sang's life), and the first snowfall of winter (representing the meeting of the two lovers) - appeared repetitively throughout the melodrama to hammer the point of their significance they contributed to the story.

Furthermore, the excellent use of parallelism and repetition compounded the dramatic effects in scenes - whenever Yu Jin and Sang Hyuk were fighting, Min Yeong and Chae Lin were also arguing; when Yu Jin and Min Yeong strolled through their high school, each taking a different path, unaware of one another's presence; and when Yu Jin tried to tail whom she thought was Joon Sang in the crowd and later Sang Hyuk attempted to follow whom he thought was Yu Jin in the streets.

Although the drama is basically a love story, it tackled many contemporary themes:

:: character duality - Joon Sang personified the dark side and Ming Yeong, the bright side

:: identity problems - Joon Sang searched for the identity of his father and later Min Yeong questioned his own identity

:: different reactions to the loss of love - Yu Jin's sad disposition, Joon Sang's escapes to America, San Hyuk's suicide attempt, and Chae Lin's drinking binge incestuous love remained a taboo in modern age

:: fate prevailed no matter what others did to prevent the destined lovers from getting together

The main reason for Winter Sonata's popularity could be attributed to its bold exposition of the various aspects of love:

:: puppy love
:: first love
:: possessive love
:: lost love
:: parental love
:: true love

Everyone in the audience has experienced at least one or more of these different shades of love, where he or she could empathize with any of the characters at one time or another in this melodrama.

In high school, Choi Ji Woo and Bae Yong Jun in their roles convincingly demonstrated the beauty of innocence and sweetness of puppy love as they helped and defended each other. Then the puppy love blossomed into first love when their most impressionable memories consisted of things they did together for the first time. It was through this love that the gloom and anger in Joon Sang faded away when he was in the presence of Yu Jin.

The series also showed the negative impact of possessive love - Sang Hyuk for Yu Jin and Chae Lin for Min Yeong - in which Sang Hyuk and Chae Lin would do anything to keep their loved ones to themselves, including lying, scheming, and hurting others. When they finally lost their beloveds to the destined pair, they marched down a familiar path of self-destruction - Sang Hyuk tried to commit suicide and Chae Lin slumped into a drinking stupor. However, mature love requires making sacrifices - putting the beloved's happiness above everything else - as seen in Sang Hyuk-s release of Yu Jin to the revived Joon Sang, in Chae Lin's suggestion to Joon Sang to elope with Yu Jin despite everyone's disapproval of their marriage, in Joon Sang's decisions to place Yu Jin's well-being above all his needs, and in Yu Jin's respect for Joon Sang's resolution to bid their last farewell.

Even in modern times, family plays a dominant role in Asian culture. At the beginning, Joon Sang desperately sought parental love from a father he never knew, and later he could forgive his mother for all the wrongs she had done him.

Suppressing her feelings, Yu Jin chose Sang Hyuk over Min Yeong to abide the wishes of Sang Hyuk's family and her own mother. As the drama unfolded, the meddling of three families - Sang Hyuk's parents, Joon Sang's mother and Yu Jin's mother - caused more harm than good with endless sorrow and tragic consequences to their offsprings.

Like all great love stories, true love as written in the stars exists in the one and only couple made for one another. Obviously, Joon Sang and Yu Jin were destined to be together, for they both fell in love with each other, not once but twice and could love no one else.

In conclusion, Winter Sonata delivered a tearjerker with a moving tale and unforgettable characters. It brought a paragon mate for a modern woman to life, exemplified by Joon Sang - handsome, sensitive, intelligent, and successful in life. More importantly, he was able to love a woman with complete gentleness and understanding, even at the risk of his own welfare and happiness. In addition, the drama series successfully revealed the manifestations of love in real life, to which everyone in the audience could relate. As Winter Sonata makes its appearance around the world, its popularity will certainly grow, for it possesses all the elements of a classic drama.

Diana Lee (www.uniorb.com) has traveled extensively and worked abroad in Cameroon, China and Japan. Her work has appeared in several magazines, ezines and anthologies. Interested in various forms of writing, she has written essays, poems, and short stories.

. . winter sonata fever . .

Winter Sonata Drama Fever
By Diana Lee (1-31-05)
Source: http://uniorb.com/ATREND/Japanwatch/wsdramafever.htm



When the director, Yun Seok Ho, produced Winter Sonata in 2002, he had no idea that he possessed a gold mine, which has been opening multiple doors to political, social, and economic changes throughout Asia. Yun Seok Ho has single-handedly accomplished in one TV drama series that politicians, social trendsetters, and entrepreneurs have tried so hard for many years only to achieve limited success.

The phenomenal hit of Winter Sonata has swept across Asia, making history along its path - melting the cultural barrier between South Korea and Japan; heightening the Korean image and promoting tourism to the peninsula; branding winter fashion overseas; and raking in astronomical profits for the South Korean entertainment industry. Extending across the continent, Winter Sonata catapulted its main actor and actress to world stage as international celebrities - Bae Yong Jun as the Asian heartthrob and Choi Ji Woo as the beautiful, talented idol.

It's not an exaggeration to say that Winter Sonata has done more politically for South Korea and Japan than the FIFA World Cup co-hosted by these two countries in 2002. In an earnest effort to overlook their bitter historical past, both governments promoted cultural exchanges before the World Cup event, but it wasn't until the huge success of Winter Sonata in Japan that triggered a craze for all things South Korean. Recognizing the important political impact on South Korea attributed by the ever-increasing popular TV drama, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism awarded the prestigious Presidential Prize to its director, Yun Seok Ho, for his immense contribution in promoting exports of cultural products.

Riding the crest of a tsunami, Winter Sonata has reached a feverish pitch in Japan - it has captured the hearts of women, baffled the social analysts, and stunned the media. Although South Korean TV dramas have enjoyed popularity in many Asian countries for years, Japan is viewed as a latecomer in joining the "Korean wave." NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster introduced Winter Sonata as the first South Korean TV drama shown on its satellite channel in 2003. Because of its explosive popularity, Winter Sonata was aired twice in the same year. Knowing a 'golden egg' when it saw one, NHK rushed to publish novels based on the screenplay and program guidebooks, as well as to produce DVDs, CDs and videos for both entertainment and for learning Korean. In addition, NHK hosted a classical concert featuring Winter Sonata’s melodic tunes performed by many Korean musicians. Meanwhile, travel agencies offer tour packages that highlight shooting locations of Winter Sonata and rare moments to meet the stars. The members of the Winter Sonata's cast, including the singer, Ryu, have been repeatedly invited to Japan to make personal appearances for interviews and shooting commercials. The Winter Sonata fever reached its peak when Bae Yong Jun visited Japan last spring to promote "Scandal," a massive crowd (mainly women) turned unexpectedly into a stampede, injuring a dozen fans at the airport.

The social impact of Winter Sonata has been felt in countries as close as China and as far away as the Philippines - in terms of fashion, social trend, and social behavior. These days, fans tend to imitate their favorite stars, instead of just cheering for them on the sidelines. Even in Singapore, a nation known for its warm and humid climate all year round, fans wanted to learn how to wrap the wool scarf conspicuously worn by Bae Yong Jun and Choi Ji Woo. The Polaris star has found its mark as a symbol of everlasting love in an array of lucrative markets ranging from jewelry to telephone accessories.

Contrary to most entertainment nowadays with a strong emphasis on passion and sex appeal, the TV drama Winter Sonata depicts wholesome love in its purest form without any nude or lustful contents to mitigate the essence of true love. Yet, Winter Sonata's popularity continues to grow, baffling social analysts and entertainment commentators. With romantic fantasies, women show outpouring adulation for Bae Yong (the Japanese fans even gave him an honorific title, "Prince Yong") due to the actor’s own personal charm and his convincing portrayal of an ideal mate of modern times in Winter Sonata. Instead of being clad in shining armor on a white horse, the present day Prince Charming is armed with good looks, intelligence, thoughtfulness and success, yet can still be faithful and devoted to one lover. Unlike the commercialized macho image of a handsome stud surrounded by several gorgeous women to conquer, this Prince Charming displays distinguished qualities - sensitive and compassionate to others, understanding of woman’s emotional needs, attentive and dedicated to his woman, and always protective of her, not only from physical but also from emotional and mental harm. It's a tall order for any man, but not at all impossible.

In the past, South Korea was tooted for exporting manufacturing goods, but now it is known for exporting entertainment products. The sensational popularity of Korean TV dramas and movies overseas could be the advent of the second economic boom for South Korea. The economic effects of Winter Sonata in South Korea have enormously benefited the entertainment and tourism industries. The result from Korea and Japan alone is staggering - 1 trillion won in Korea and more than 2 trillion won in Japan (total: 27 billion dollars). Japanese visitors accounted for 41.6% of 1.99 million visitors to South Korea last year, followed by the Taiwanese as the second largest group of foreign visitors, according to Korea National Tourism Organization (KNTO). As a result, flights from Haneda to Kimpo airports will be increased and Pusan will be adding extra ferry runs to some of the six Japanese ports. According to statistics for exports of South Korean TV dramas last year, Taiwan leads with 24.5%, followed by Japan with 19%, China with 18.6% and Hong Kong with 3.3%.

The Korean wave for TV dramas appears to have promises ahead as they recently started courting new audiences in other parts of the world. In Mexico, thousands of viewers organized fan clubs after seeing the hit TV dramas "Everything on Eve" and "Stars in My Heart." Egypt has already provided good reviews for "Autumn Tale" and will air "Winter Sonata" this year. Perhaps, the popularity of Korean entertainment will spill over to other nations in Central America, Africa, and even to other continents in the world.

Although Winter Sonata fever may not last forever, one thing is certain — as Winter Sonata makes its way around the globe in a Korean wave, this TV drama series and its cast will be remembered in the hearts of fans forever.

. . winter sonata again . .



Yep, he got me and many fans missing him all over once again as there isn't much news about him these days. I've started to re-watch Winter Sonata again, still got me mesmerized despite watching it the 3rd time. I know some fans who watched many more times than me.. hehe! Nearly 2 years already, this drama still lingers on.. :)

Friday, November 11, 2005

. . byj in china & looking good . .

Would you take a look at these pics?!!

Oh my.. I'm in total shock!! Don't u think he look so good in this?!! He looked different, fresher and all set to accept new challenges!! Many said he gained weight, but hmm.. I cant really tell.. haha! But definitely GOOD!! Why? Coz this shows that he enjoyed his well-deserved break in Japan and enjoyed himself! Plus, the chubbier the better to hug.. keke!






Currently he is in China promoting April Snow together with Director Hur and yep, he swept a big wind to China the moment he arrived. Who can resist him right? *dreamy look on face*

Monday, November 07, 2005

. . minus the glasses . .

Yes, I love this man so much.. he made me sobbed smiling when watching this vid, it is just so hard to describe..



Click here to download -> Clip

Friday, November 04, 2005

. . byj on LA times . .

South Korean Actor Drives Up Heart Rates and Sales in Japan

The star of a popular soap opera has become a one-man franchise that's worth billions.



By Barbara Demick, Times Staff Writer
Date: 2 November 2005
Source: LA Times


SEOUL : Like a sleepwalker shaken out of a dream, the woman is startled to be asked what she is doing out on a miserable night huddling for cover at the entranceway to a small office building as great rivulets of rainwater stream down around her.

"What am I doing here?" Masako Amino, a Japanese businesswoman in her 40s, repeats the question in a daze.

The answer is Bae Yong Joon, a South Korean matinee idol famous for driving otherwise sane women to madness.

Ever since his best-known television serial, "Winter Sonata," first aired in 2003 on Japanese television, an estimated half a million fans have come from Japan to visit locations where the show was shot, and even his manager's office on this hard-to-find back street. The chance to glimpse Bae drove thousands of sobbing, screaming fans to stampede outside his hotel during a visit to Tokyo last year.

This is Beatlemania transposed to Asia in the 21st century, with middle-aged Japanese women being by far the most maniacal.

"My husband is laughing at me, and I am amazed myself. I love opera. I love ballet," Amino says as she recovers her composure. The businesswoman, who with her husband runs a chain of stores in Italy, admits sheepishly that she has come all the way from Rome on a Bae pilgrimage. "There are others who are better-looking or better actors, but he has such a nice aura around him."

Unbeknownst to Amino, the object of her affection is upstairs in the offices of BOF Inc., his management company. In order to keep fans at bay, people are told he rarely visits. But in fact, he is there, having just finished a rare press interview in which he reflected with the same astonishment on his fame.

"I never thought I was the best. It was just something that happened. I suppose I am surprised myself," said Bae, speaking through an interpreter. "Nobody in my family ever expected me to become an actor. I was always reserved by nature."

The actor was handsomely dressed in designer jeans, a camel-colored jacket and a low-cut T-shirt revealing a broadly muscular, utterly hairless chest. His smile was so bright it seemed it would glow in the dark. He wore the tortoiseshell glasses that are the signature of the character he played on "Winter Sonata," a faithful and sensitive young man whose love affair is cut short when he suffers amnesia after a car accident.

For the tastes of American women, Bae might be a bit too girly. He is in some ways one of South Korea's new wave of kkotminam, or "flower men," as they call the pretty male models and actors now in vogue here. But at the same time he cultivates an ultra-masculine image, having posed shirtless for a $160 coffee-table album of photographs in which he displays his impressive pectorals. (In its initial release, 100,000 copies were sold in Japan in the pre-order period alone.)

"It is a love story," says Lee Young Gyu, a Seoul travel agent who drove Amino and a friend to the management office. "Women are looking for a love that they have not yet experienced."

It isn't always easy being Bae Yong Joon, shadowed everywhere by his adoring fans. Lest he appear ungrateful for the adoration that has made him rich, Bae doesn't gripe. But a colleague says the actor was particularly upset in Tokyo that he couldn't even go to the lobby of his hotel without fear of creating an incident. Perhaps because it is so difficult for him to go out, he often spends his time playing on-line computer games like Starcraft.

"My popularity doesn't give me much physical space…. But I'm used to it. My only regrets are that I can't travel when I want to or take photographs," Bae said, referring to his favorite hobby.

As a Korean cultural icon, Bae is frequently asked political questions, especially touching on the brutal 1910-1945 Japanese occupation of Korea or the hot-blooded nationalist dispute over an uninhabited island claimed by South Korea and Japan. Perhaps that is one reason that Bae rarely gives interviews; an errant remark could damage the miraculous cash-generating franchise that he has become.

Billions of dollars are at stake. Literally. A Seoul-based economic forecasting firm, Hyundai Research Institute, credited Bae, or at least the Bae phenomenon, last year with a $4-billion upsurge in business between South Korea and Japan.

"I have so much responsibility," Bae said. "Fortunately, I am someone who refrains from opening my mouth before thinking about what I have to say."

In fact, after North Korea's Kim Jong Il, Bae might be the most recognizable Korean living right now. His face appears on etched crystal plaques sold for $160 each on Korean Air flights and on $2 socks sold by street vendors in Seoul.

His celebrity extends to Singapore, China and Taiwan and even to communist North Korea; defectors say that DVDs of "Winter Sonata" are smuggled across the border from China and watched secretly in violation of laws against the import of enemy culture.

If Bae is not worshiped at home with quite the same blind adoration as abroad, he is certainly appreciated. Many South Koreans, even those who aren't fans, consider him something of a national treasure for boosting the nation's image and economy.

"Bae Yong Joon has contributed to the improvement of Korea-Japan relations more than 10 ambassadors combined could ever achieve," said Chung Ghil Za, a 64-year-old South Korean homemaker. "He's a true patriot."

In Japan, the passion for things Korean has extended to the cuisine and language. The Japanese broadcaster NHK, which airs televised Koreanlanguage lessons, reported that sales of an accompanying textbook had more than doubled since 2003. Korean cultural centers in Tokyo and Osaka have experienced sharp enrollment increases in language classes.

Seo Hyun Seop, a former diplomat and cultural affairs critic, says that Korean dramas evoke for Japanese fans a nostalgic warmth missing not only in their own marriages, but in postindustrial Japan.

"These middle-aged Japanese women who hated Korea before and thought it smelled of kimchi and garlic now find all things Korean to be fresh and interesting," Seo said.

The question is, can it last?

The Korean National Tourism Organization is certainly hoping it will and is trying to encapsulate and preserve the Bae phenomenon.

In July, the government agency set up a separate division to promote tourism at locations used for television dramas. It is asking producers to build more durable sets that can be visited later and to pick particularly scenic locations for shooting such as Chuncheon lake, the location for much of "Winter Sonata" and now one of the country's top tourist destinations.

"We've been absolutely overjoyed," said Han Hwa Joon, who heads the new division. "It's proof that when you talk about a nation's culture, it is not just old palaces and relics. Popular culture is also very precious and should be treated accordingly."

But the South Koreans may have to find another Bae Yong Joon to be the bait for the droves of lovesick females.

Without quite saying so, Bae makes it clear he is tired of playing the romantic lead in syrupy soaps. Asked about his tastes, he cites the darkly subversive films of David Lynch and the actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. In his first feature film, "Untold Scandal," a 2003 adaptation of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," he is the lecherously evil nobleman.

"My image is not who I am in the real world. I want to do different types of roles so people can see what I can do," Bae said. "I would like to play a comic role. I'd even like to be the bad guy."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

. . just him . .

Click on pics to enlarge!