Park Yoo-chun of JYJ speaks at a press conference for the 2011 Seoul International Drama Awards at the Press Center in central Seoul, Monday. He was chosen as the Best Korean Actor by fans voting on the Internet. / Yonhap
By Kwon Mee-yoo
The sixth Seoul International Drama Awards (SDA) will be held at KBS Hall in Yeouido today with a handful of top actors and "hallyu", or Korean wave, fans from across the globe.
This year's award embraces international fans of Korean dramas after signing memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with overseas fan communities of Korean drama in France, Romania, Peru, Chile and Mexico. Three leaders among them flew to Korea to attend the awards ceremony.
Maxime Paquet, president of France-based organization Korean Connection, said Korean dramas are interesting as they introduce the essence of Korean culture through love, happiness and sadness.
A fan of Big Bang, he visited Korea earlier this year with members of Korean Connection, a hallyu fan club, to watch K-pop shows.
"We are willing to promote hallyu throughout Europe", he said.
Paquet said he sees optimism in the future of the Korean wave. "I think the support of Korean government and companies is the key point in spreading Korean culture all over the world", he added.
Daniela Predut of Romanian Korean Intercultural Association (RKIA) introduced herself and the organization in Korean.
Predut said Korean epic dramas started airing in Romania in 2009 and the RKIA was established to promote Korean culture, especially dramas. The hit Korean drama "Jumong" was broadcast in Romania earlier this year, attracting some 800,000 viewers to the small screen.
"We now have about 30,000 members and are trying to promote other parts of Korean culture such as history and food as well", she said. "Last week, the first K-pop music program was launched in Romania and now we can listen to K-pop every day on television".
Cabrera Miluska is from Peru and leads a community named "SM Town in Peru".
"This project began in March and now consists of some 14,000 fans of Korean culture, especially K-pop", Miluska said. "K-pop and Korean dramas are very popular in Peru and there are fans of various singers and actors in our project".
She said the organization aims to host SM Town concerts in Peru, as well as promote Korean culture in general.
Martine Prost, a French professor at University Paris 7 Denis Diderot, also visited Korea to attend the 2011 SDA. She also leads the Research Center on Korea at College de France.
"It is true that the Korean wave hit Europe, especially France. However, it did not take shape overnight but based on decades of Koreanology studied in France", Prost said in fluent Korean. "It ignited interest in Korean literature and movies, and now the popularity has shifted to drama and K-pop".
She emphasized creativity to sustain the popularity of Korean culture abroad. "The spread of the Korean wave calls for a celebration, but we have to wait and see how it goes", the professor said. "I wish more Korean movies and dramas incorporate Korean culture and spirit. Korea already has technical achievements and what it needs is the energy, which is natural for Koreans".
A total of 204 dramas from 37 countries were submitted to this year's drama awards and 39 of them made it to the finals.
Veteran director Lim Kwon-taek led this year's judges. "Dramas in various genres were submitted and we could see cultural diversity in dramas - from daily life to social issues", he said. "The theme passing through this year's candidates was female. We could see women pioneering their lives independently in dramas".
Park Yoo-chun of JYJ, a singer-turned-actor who was acclaimed for his portrayal of the young gentleman Seon-jun in the 2010 KBS drama "Sungkyunkwan Scandal", won the Best Korean Actor by fans voting on the Internet.
"The Korean wave is hitting more and more countries and Korean content is loved by more overseas fans". he said at the press conference. "I think creators and actors together should make better dramas to repay the interest from all around the world. We should also understand each other's cultures before just promoting Korean culture".
The winners will be announced today at the awards ceremony, which will be aired live through SBS and later broadcast on Arirang TV, Japanese satellite So-net, Chinese channel NTD TV and Indonesian satellite LBS TV. Top stars such as Jianbin Chen of China and Kamiki Ryunosuke of Japan will attend today's ceremony.
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