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Korean Wave Brings in Crowds at Pusan Film Fest

2005/10/09 | Permalink | Source

The 10th Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) is the hottest ever, with an eye-boggling 153,000 tickets sold in the first three days of the festival. That is close to the 166,000 tickets sold during the whole of last year's festival.

One thing that is different is the large number of overseas visitors in the streets of Busan -- also spelled Pusan -- many of whom have come for a chance to see Korean stars popular in their countries close up. The PIFF's strategy to bring a lot of Korean screen stars to the city has proved a resounding success.

The opening ceremony last Thursday drew some 300 Japanese women who came for a glimpse of stars at the forefront of a Korean Wave in Japan. They greeted the appearance of Lee Byung-hun with a huge cheer. About 100 Japanese fans were in the city on a special three-day PIFF opening ceremony package organized by a Japanese travel agency. They were especially conspicuous at outdoor events, where stars and fans could meet in person.

Even though Japan's favorite son-in-law Bae Yong-joon or "Yonsama" had said he would not attend, tickets for the screening of his latest film "April Snow" sold like hot cakes. A PIFF official said Japanese fans started coming to Busan in 2003, when Bae's "Untold Scandal" was part of the program. "But I've never seen this many Japanese fans at previous festivals", he said, adding the event was clearly benefiting from the Korean Wave.

This year's PIFF also saw a sharp increase in the number of journalists; while 1,200 came last year, their numbers swelled to over 1,800 this year. Reporters from Japan and China numbered over 70, twice as many as in 2004.

At the press conference for "The Myth", starring Jackie Chan and Kim Hee-sun, a freelance journalist from Japan said the main focus of his article was Kim, who is hugely popular in Japan, rather than the world-famous martial arts comedian. Press conferences resound with questions on the Korean Wave, with a reporter from Hong Kong asking Taiwanese film director Hou Hsiao-hsien which Korean star he would like to work with.

Source : www.chosun.com...

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