TV star whets Japan's taste for Korean food, culture
By Jeff Chung
While other hallyu stars have been increasing their exposure through film and TV and Hollywood movies, the "King of Hallyu," Bae Yong Joon, has been busy promoting Korean culture and Korean food in Japan.
Bae has opened a Korean restaurant, Korean bar and another restaurant in a department store, sells Korean-themed bentos and published a book on Korean culture and tourism.
Bae achieved stardom in the hit TV series "Winter Sonata (Yonsama)," also known as "Winter Ballad," alongside co-star Choi Ji Woo in 2004. The series originally aired in 2002 in South Korea, where it was popular, but was far more successful with viewers in Japan. It remains Bae's most popular project to date.
Bae entered the restaurant business in Seoul near Do San Park, opening Gorilla In the Kitchen, which emphasized healthy food with great service. Then he opened a Korean restaurant in Shiro-gane, Japan, called Goshire. (Goshi is a mythical god of agriculture and "re" is a Chinese character that means "to be polite.") Next came Goshire Hwa, a Korean bar in Nagoya, Japan, featuring variations of soju cocktails. Late last year, Bae's Goshire Gun opened in the basement of the Seibu department store, specializing in Korean side dishes (banchan), porridge and salads.
Bae also launched the Goshire Bento for Japanese convenience stores, featuring foods from Korea's Goguryeo period.
In 2008, he released the book "A Journey In Search of Korea's Beauty," drawing 45,000 fans to a promotional event for its release at the Tokyo Dome. The book, now in its fifth printing, chronicles his journey through Korea, with pictures and essays.
Bae has been very successful in his ventures and very generous in his donations to charitable organizations. As an actor, he has been instrumental in promoting Korean culture, food and tourism, and is quickly becoming a savvy businessman, too. He has used his successful acting career to branch out into other areas and has been more successful in marketing and promoting Korean culture than some government agencies.
I would go so far as to predict that one day Bae Yong Joon will be a strong candidate to be South Korea's minister of culture, sports and tourism. Veteran actor Yu In Chon currently holds that post.
THIS WEEK'S K-DRAMA SYNOPSES
Episodes 23 and 24
Tonight at 7:45 p.m.: Hansae wakes up Hyunsu's and Jungin's family in the middle of the night with his drunken tirade. Afraid he'll reveal their secret, Hyunsu and Jungin try to send Hansae away but he refuses to leave. Hansae falls asleep in Hyunsu's room, but gets up in the middle of the night and searches the house for Jungin.
Tomorrow at 7:45 p.m.: Junggil finds his father's will in a picture frame just as Geumja comes out to the living room. The whole family tries to get the will. Manbok says Junggil's family and his family are over if Junggil reads the will. Junggil sneaks a peek and is shocked by the content of the will.
'LOVE YOU 1,000 TIMES'
Episodes 19 and 20
Sunday at 6:45 p.m.: Gang-ho survives the accident and finally wins Eun-nim over. Nan-jeong asks Chul to model for her Internet shopping site, but runs to the hospital when she hears that Gang-ho's been in an accident. Ae-rang finally finds the lost ring. Geum-ja moves in with Yeon-hee and finds a box full of men's things.
Sunday at 7:45 p.m.: Nan-jeong is depressed over Gang-ho's less than enthusiastic reception of her visit, but her mood is lifted by a large order for her Internet shopping site. Se-hoon tells Yeon-hee to move away, offering to buy her a bigger store. Gang-ho advises Se-hoon to postpone his resort town project, only to be chided by Hyang-sook.
Episodes 19 and 20
Monday at 7:45 p.m.: Joo-seung is devastated when a lawyer advises him Aran will most likely face jail time. To corner Hyun-woo and make him drop the charges against Aran, Joo-seung looks for the real Ahn Jae-sung. Aran hears of Hyun-woo's and Jae-hee's engagement and crashes the engagement party with an executive from Woo-sub's old furniture company.
Tuesday at 7:45 p.m.: Woo-sub is hit by a truck trying to save Kyung-hee. Kyung-hee begs Woo-sub for forgiveness. Woo-sub loses his temper when he finds out he'll be paralyzed from waist down. Aran threatens to bankrupt Soul Furniture, but Hyun-woo fights back with evidence incriminating Aran.
'WILL IT SNOW FOR CHRISTMAS'
Episodes 3 and 4
Wednesday at 7:45 p.m.: Jiwan ends up letting Taejun in the cafe because he keeps insisting they have a few more drinks together. When Taejun asks, Jiwan tells him all the rumors she has heard about him. Taejun then surprises Jiwan by confessing that he is interested in her. When Jiwan sees Taejun fixing the words written on the chalkboard, she reminisces about Gangjin.
Thursday at 7:45 p.m.: Jiwan wakes up in the morning, shocked to find herself at Gangjin's place. Taejun comes to drop off his car key and is even more shocked to see Jiwan. Gangjin explains to Taejun that he brought her with him because he saw her faint in front of Taejun's place. Taejun drags Jiwan out and takes her to his house. Jiwan tries to pretend everything is okay by eating and talking as usual but that gets Taejun even angrier.