Korean Wave Spreads to Middle East

      August 15, 2004 19:06

      Song Hye-kyo and Song Seung-heon in the soap opera, "Autumn Fairy Tale"

      A Korean drama was broadcast in the Middle East for the first time Saturday in Egypt. Egyptian state television ERTU broadcast the first episode of the popular KBS drama "Autumn Fairy Tale" from 9:10 p.m. to 10:10 p.m. on Saturday.

      ERTU plans to run all 18 episodes of "Autumn Fairy Tale" every evening except Friday. It also decided to run 20 episodes of "Winter Sonata" on ERTU's prime time spot following the completion of "Autumn Fairy Tale."

      On the day on which a Korean drama appeared on Egyptian TV for the first time, expatriate Koreans were able to feel the emotions of the homeland and much topic of conversation was born.

      43-year-old Kim Bok-sun, who has lived in Cairo for 20 years, said she was choked up with emotion and cried upon seeing a drama from her far-off homeland in Egypt. She said that a Japanese drama had been broadcast on Egyptian TV to much praise, but she had felt frustrated because not one decent Korean cultural product had ever made it to Egypt. She hoped that in the future, more Korean cultural goods would be introduced to Egyptians, narrowing the cultural gap.

      Akhmad, an Egyptian journalist, said he waited impatiently for the program, having seen newspaper and TV advertisements. He said that although it was the first time he had seen a drama with an all-East Asian cast, the subject matter was not unfamiliar, and it seemed it would become easier to understand the more he watched it. He pointed out that with next year marking the 10th anniversary of the establishment of embassy-level diplomatic relations between Korea and Egypt, there was a need to increase exchanges of programming material and films and deepen understanding at the civilian level.

      ERTU is the largest TV broadcaster in the Middle East and Africa, and Channel 2, which is broadcasting the drama, gets a large number of viewers throughout the Middle East by way of terrestrial and satellite broadcasting. Moreover, as "Autumn Fairy Tale" will be able to be viewed in Iraq with Arabic subtitles, it is hoped that the program will help Iraqi citizens understand Korea.

      In particular, while emotions about Korea worsen in the Arab world as a result of its decision to send troops to Iraq, it appears that the introduction of Korean cultural products to the area might help in blocking the spread of anti-Korean feelings. Following Egypt, Abu Dhabi TV of the United Arab Emirates also plans to broadcast "Winter Sonata" and "Autumn Fairy Tale" within the year.

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