Korean drama 'Iris' to generate W3 Bln in Japan

The Korean drama "IRIS" starring top actor Lee Byung-hun is expected to generate some 200 million yen (3 billion won) in economic benefits in Japan's Akita prefecture, where it will be shot.

Kyodo News says the prefecture officially announced the Korean drama will be shot there for 3 weeks from mid-March. Officials expect the economic effect will include a rise in tourist numbers.

Scenes shot there will mainly focus on Lee, who is playing an intelligence agent fleeing Korea and infiltrating Japan. The production agency Taewon says Akita was picked for its snow covered scenery. As for the exact location in Akita, either Oga or Senboku districts will be the likely choice.

Akita governor Sukeshiro Terata said, "I get a glimpse of Korean dramas when my wife watches them. But "IRIS" starring Lee, highly popular in Japan, will have considerable positive impact to our prefecture".

Akita officials plan to form a corporate support team to help the shooting as well as a reception for the Korean actor. Accommodations for the drama's 80 Korean staffers will also be provided for free.

The first shoot on March 10 is an action scene featuring Lee, Kim Tae-hee, Jung Joon-ho and TOP (Choi Seung-hyun), a member of the boy band Big Bang. The 20-episode spy action series is jointly directed by filmmaker Yang Yoon-ho, known for the movies "Holiday" and "Libera Me", and TV producer Kim Kyoo-tae, who made the drama "Love I Want to Kill".

Meanwhile, Lee is returning to the small screen for the first time since the SBS hit drama "All In" 6 years ago. He will hold a large scale fan meeting in Tokyo on Feb. 28 -- he will be meeting his Japanese fans more than one year after his LBH Arena Tour in late 2007.