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Japanese Can't Get Enough of Local Soap Star

2004/11/25 Source

As the fad dubbed "Korea Fever" continues to make waves in neighboring Japan, South Korean actor Bae Yong-joon's arrival at Tokyo's Narita airport Thursday was punctuated with screaming fans, makeshift campsites from the night before and flashing cameras as locals strained to catch a glimpse of the soap star they affectionately call "Yonsama".
Sporting brown designer sunglasses despite the cold climate, the main star of hit Korean soap opera "Winter Sonata" who jetted into the capital to promote his latest collection of photography posed for the cameras at Narita's airport lounge and flashed smiles to female fans.

Local reporters in their hundreds lit up the venue with flashes while fans screamed to mark Bae's latest visit to Japan since his last outing in April. Many fans were tired from camping out near the airport since 10 p.m. the previous night, although their batteries instantly recharged as the pin-up idol stepped into view to a chorus of screams and welcome banners emblazoned with the Korean word for "love".

Almost 98 percent of the star's informal reception committee were female - some of them in their eighties.

Bae's previous visit to Japan effectively paralyzed Haneda airport, which put officials on alert this time for a repeat performance at Narita. The airport doubled its security by deploying over twice the number of guards and recruiting over one hundred police officers to prevent festivities over-spilling into chaos.

Japanese private broadcasting companies responded to public demand by airing the actor's departure and arrival with live broadcasts. Programs were titled "Celebration of Yonsama's Revisit", and the media responded warmly to the actor's use of the word "family" when describing fans. They cited such consideration as one of the commendable traits of Korean actors.

On November 26, Bae is scheduled to hold a press conference in Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo, one day prior to his photo exhibition being launched in the same venue. He will depart for Korea on November 29, after shooting an advertisement November 28.

Out of concern for the safety of himself and his fans, the actor refrained from organizing any special events at the airport or plans to meet fans personally. At his departure from Seoul's Inchon International Airport, he said he had heard reports of fans staying up all night and braving the cold to await his arrival and hoped they would be in a good condition. This comment had the effect of further endearing him to the Japanese media.

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