KORIYAMA, Japan - A fashion show by a renowned Korean designer rattled this usually-quiet city as thousands of Japanese flocked here to catch a glimpse of Korean TV stars on the catwalk as well as a lavish and extravagant show by Andre Kim.
The gala, held Saturday at the Big Palette Convention Center with more than 3,000 people attending, was the highlight of three days of festivities organized jointly by the Fukushima Prefecture Government and a Korean civic group, Welcome to Korea Civic Commission.
The program, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two neighbors, included a reception, a talk show with Korean stars, a symposium on Korea-Japan relations, a fan meeting of Korean actor Chung Dong-hwa, held Friday and Saturday in various cities in the prefecture.
Andre Kim (right on stage) and his models bow at the end of his fashion show in Koriyama, Japan, Saturday.
In the fashion show titled "The Fashion Art of Andre Kim", twenty professional models from Korea, including veteran Lee Jong-heui, displayed 175 pieces of Kim's spring-summer collection for 2006. The curtain raiser of the show was a set of white suits that blended a feminine with a futuristic look, using romantic details under the outer layer of coat made of transparent material.
The most enthusiastic applause came when actor Ji Sung
marched down the runway in a luxurious white tuxedo. A Korean TV drama starring Ji, "All In", is now being aired nationwide by a local Japanese television network.
Actress Kim So-yeon
, whose drama series "All About Eve
" was also aired in Japan a few years ago, joined Ji on stage, acting as his lover. The show grew into full bloom with the designer's signature piece Chilgabsan, a seven-layered dress, each brightly hued layer taken off as Lee Jong-heui twirled and shed layer after layer.
It finally drew to a grand finale with Ji and Kim, dressed in a black tuxedo and a spectacular wedding gown, glided down the runway together.
The show, coming when relations between the two countries have been strained by feuds over Japan's sovereignty claim to Korea-administrated Dokdo and its purported attempt to gloss over the wartime atrocities, was guarded by more than 400 police personnel and scores more from a private security firm.
Asked about the timing of the event, Andre Kim said, "Especially at times like this, cultural exchange becomes much more important than ever, since we really need to understand each other better. I did not hesitate a single second (about having a fashion show in Japan now.)"
Fukushima Prefecture Governor Sato Eisaku also stressed the need for civilian exchange to mend the strained diplomatic relations.
"To overcome the unfortunate history and become the closest neighbor in Asia, the two countries should meet more often and work more on cultural exchanges".
The Japanese fans of Korean stars seemed little affected by the cooling in diplomatic ties, with more than 15,000 competing to take part in the various programs of this event, hoping to meet Ji Sung and others in person.
About 9,000 applied to secure a seat in Andre Kim's fashion show, paying up to 5,000 yen for a seat.
By Lee Sun-young Korea Herald correspondent