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Fans Crowd Tokyo Dome to Meet Korean Idol

2006/05/04 Source

The streets of downtown Tokyo were all but empty on Thursday, the start of Japan's longest holidays nicknamed "golden week". But the Tokyo Dome, the home stadium of baseball team Yomiuri Giants, was crowded with women from all over the island country to see Korean actor Lee Byung-hun. To everyone's surprise, some 42,000 tickets for the event were sold out.

A housewife who had come from Osaka with her friend had to wait for an hour in glaring sunlight, not to get into the dome itself but into a souvenir shop to buy Lee merchandise. But she said it did not matter because she was able to see Lee in person, having fallen in love with the actor when she saw him in the soap "All-In".

A "Korean All Star Summit" in Saitama in September drew some 27,000 fans to see four Korean top stars including Lee and Jang Dong-kun. The massive turnout prompted some sarcastic remarks from Japanese like, "Women must have lots of time to kill". But that was as nothing compared to Thursday's turnout.

Fans at the three-hour meeting welcomed Lee in a quiet and orderly manner. They just waved light batons while Lee, in a white suit, expressed his gratitude to his fans talking into a white microphone.

Choi Ji-woo, who appeared opposite Lee in the drama "Beautiful Days" that introduced him to Japanese audiences, and singer Ivy were guest stars at the event. Some 100 Japanese reporters covered the meeting. "Even Japanese stars have never held such a big event, not to mention at the Tokyo Dome", one journalist said. A staffer from Hakuhodo, one of the co-hosts, said Japanese businesses remain interested in the Korean Wave.

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