A group of French fans are in town to meet their favorite Korean stars such as K-pop group TVXQ, members of which are shown in this file photo.
/ Korea Times file
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Hallyu, or the Korean wave, has reached Europe and 55 fans of K-pop from France are visiting Korea for two weeks to meet their favorite stars.
They are from the Korean Connection, a French organization enamored of Korean culture, especially K-pop. Most of the members are in their late teens or 20s, but some of them are older. Maxime Paquet, 30, leader of the group said the visit is really exciting.
"This trip is a dream-come-true for many of us. We actually saw Korean singers we like!" Paquet said.
Last Friday, they went to KBS to watch "Music Bank", a K-pop music show program. The program featured top singers such as Girls Day, CNBLUE, 4Minute, ZE:A - Children of Empire, U-Kiss and Tony An among others. "After the show, we met U-Kiss", he said.
Paquet started learning Korean about three years ago and a video clip of Big Bang a friend showed him led him to plunge into the music.
"I was bored of American and British music. When I heard K-pop, I felt totally different. The melodies were beautiful and Korean singers sing very well", he said. "Their look and style is well-prepared as well", Paquet said. His favorite K-pop singer is Big Bang.
He said they are also in love with Korean movies and television dramas such as "Secret Garden" (2010).
Their itinerary includes not only K-pop visits, but also cultural and industrial experiences in Korea. They experienced a templestay at Tongdo Temple in Yangsan, South Gyeongsan Province and visited Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan was another destination.
The French K-pop fans will visit SM Entertainment today and have a talk with SHINee, a five-member boy group known for songs like "Ring Ding Dong" and "Lucifer".
Paquet hopes to come to Korea again to experience more of its culture. "I have to study Korean much harder to visit Korea again", he said.
This is the first time a group of hallyu fans from Europe have visited Korea. The trip was co-organized by the Paris branch of Korea National Tourism Organization (KNTO) and Korean Connection.
"France is the center of the Korean wave in Europe after the trend was introduced through France 2 television in January", an official of KNTO said. "The K-pop fans in Korea created a Facebook account 'Concert K-POP A Paris', asking for K-pop singers to hold a concert in Paris, last November and more than 9,500 people joined the movement".
The KNTO plans to expand such program in the latter half of the year. "We will link K-pop concerts and travel to Korea together", the KNTO official said.
The Korean Connection's love toward Korea will continue in France. They will hold "The Grand Korean Festival" at the Espace Champerret, Paris on May 8.
"Though only 55 of us are visiting Korea now, but we have more than 200 members in the organization", he said. "The idea of the festival is to make French people familiar to Korea, Korean culture, especially K-pop".
The festival includes a variety of events introducing Korean culture such as K-pop singing and dancing contests and screening of Korean dramas and movies.
"We also have samulnori performance, hanbok fitting and a martial arts presentation", Paquet said.
For detailed information, visit www.koreanconnection.org.
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