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Korean Wave Hits Asia and Beyond

2006/08/31 Source

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The latest fad in Asia, and soon to hit the American shores, dubbed "Korean Wave", have sprouted growing interests in Korean males among the female counterparts in the region according to the Washington Post on August 31.

The article, entitled "Japanese Women Catch the 'Korean Wave'", reports the recent phenomenon of "the wild success of male celebrities from Korea". The report continues to describe the new sensation that it "redefined what Asian women want, from Bangkok to Beijing, from Taipei to Tokyo".

The term "Korean wave" was initially coined in China to describe an upsurge of interest in Korean products, largely in areas of music and TV dramas. This new "wave" has since then reached far beyond the Chinese borders and into the households in many corners of Asia.

The Korean singer Rain, who held two sold-out concerts at the Madison Square Garden and was featured as one of Time magazine's top 100 "people who shape our world", and Daniel Dae Kim, Korean-born actor from the ABC hit show "Lost" and one of People Magazine's "Sexiest Men Alive", are a few signs of the burgeoning popularity in America

Beginning with "Winter Sonata", the "Korean Wave" in Japan substantially grew, according to Anthony Faiola, the author of the article. He cited an example of Japanese women scrambling for a spot in a "fan meeting" with a Korean actor Kwon Sang-woo, which cost up to $500 on an online-auction. At the meeting, participants get to watch the actor "play games with fans, chat and perform little song-and-dance numbers".

The broad acceptance of the "Korean wave" in Asia brought about an unexpected result. Korean entertainment industry's portrayal of Korean male actors as the "strong, silent type on screen typically rich, kind men with coincidentally striking looks and a tendency to shower women with unconditional love" has captivated the Asian female audience. A 26-year-old Kazumi Yoshimura of Japan tells the author, "(Korean men) are so sweet and romantic not at all like Japanese guys, who never say 'I love you'" while waiting for her blind date from Korea.

"It's a type of character that doesn't exist much in Asian movies and television, and now it's what Asian women think Korean men are like", Faiola quotes Kim Ok Hyun, director of a major celebrity management firm in Seoul.

Such stardom has caused an upsurge of tourism in Korea from 2.8 million in 2003 to 3.7 million in 2004 the bulk of the growth stemming from women who are riding the "Korean wave".

Furthermore, Korean male actors and singers are among the highest-paid in Asia due to such phenomenon, the article suggests. Bae Yong-joon, the male actor of the "Winter Sonata", earns $5 million per movie deal and $100 million for his accumulated share of the industry.

Even though Yoshimura's blind date did not turn out well, she tells the author, "I intend to keep looking until I find the right one".

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