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Stars Look to Revive Hallyu in Japan

2009/02/24 Source

By Han Sang-hee
Staff Reporter

Some may say that hallyu, or the Korean wave, is over, but according to some celebrities' plans, the wave is just waiting for the perfect time to hit harder.

Singers and actors alike are moving their radars to Japan, with new albums, fan meetings and new dramas, a perfect way to reinvigorate the star power of local celebrities.

Singers Shin Seung-hun and R&B group SG Wannabe will release new albums in Japan this March. Shin, who proved his ballad power in Japan with his first album four years ago, returned to the local ballad scene last year, releasing a local album for the first time in two years. Recently announcing a concert tour in cities like Osaka and Tokyo starting in April, the 40-year-old singer's second album will be released March 25 and bring fans his new acoustic sounds.

SG Wannabe, consisting of Kim Jin-ho, Kim Yong-jun and Lee Suk-hun, will release its fifth album, "Rainbow", in Japan March 11. Making its Japanese debut last year, the group recorded a total of 12 songs, all in Japanese. SG Wannabe will also hold its first concert, "Over the Rainbow", in Tokyo and Osaka next month.

The group's agency announced that SG Wannabe will operate in Japan and Korea only for the time being.

Meanwhile, local actors have found a more intimate way to get closer to their fans: fan meetings.

Unlike press conferences, fan meetings offer a more intimate experience, as stars appear on the stage and interact with their fans.

The first Korean celebrity to meet fans in Japan this year is Jo In-sung. The 27-year-old star of the movie "A Frozen Flower" will hold fan meetings in Osaka and Tokyo on March 3 and 5, respectively. It will be his last visit to Japan before leaving fans for mandatory military service in April.

Actor Jang Dong-gun ("Typhoon", 2005) will also greet fans March 6 at a special event called "2009 Jang Dong-gun's Story". Held at Yokohama National University, the event will take place a day before his birthday and the number of fans in attendance is estimated to reach over 5,000.

Fellow actor kwon Sang-woo, a father of a newborn son, will also pay a visit to Japan next month. The 8,000 tickets for his fan meeting, which will be held at the Osaka Castle Hall on the 26th, have already sold out, proving that the married star is still popular among Japanese fans.

For Japanese fans who want more than just watching the actors sign autographs and take photos, local dramas are heading to their homes.

The drama "Spotlight", starring Son Ye-jin and Ji Jin-hee as news reporters, will meet Japanese viewers April 5 through NHK's satellite channel BS2.

Hit drama "Boys over Flowers" will also be aired in April through hallyu channel Mnet. The parent channel here in Korea, Mnet Media, has prepared a special event for Japanese fans. To celebrate the third anniversary of the network, Mnet will hold a preview event whereby the first three episodes of the drama will be edited into a 90-minute preview and be screened in six cities including Sapporo, Osaka and Tokyo from March 8 to March 27. The network will also air a special program introducing the four characters, played by heartthrobs Lee Min-ho, Kim Hyun-joong, Kim Beom and Kim Jun on March 14 and 21, along with plans for a fan meeting for which the four actors will head to Japan to meet fans April 16.

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