January 12, 2006 19:15
One of the leading figures of the Korean Wave in Japan, the actress Choi Ji-woo, is generating renewed frenzy in the island country with her upcoming appearance in a drama specially produced to mark the 50th anniversary of Tokyo Broadcasting System. It goes on air on Jan. 15.
Walls in every neighborhood in Tokyo are plastered with posters featuring Choi side-by-side with the male Japanese lead Yutaka Takenouchi.
Japan's fashion and celebrity magazines have kicked into overdrive with special articles on the drama, many running features on the shooting locations. This is the first time Choi has been involved in a Japanese production, while Takenouchi is making his return to the small screen after a 10-year absence.
TBS has embarked on a PR blitz to hype the drama and its own 50th anniversary. Little wonder then that there is a major buzz surrounding the production. TBS will air "Rondo," as the miniseries is called, in a primetime slot, 9 p.m. on Sunday. It has invested US$12 million in the drama at a cost of more than $1 million per episode, in itself a sensation in Japan.
The Japanese media expects "Rondo" with its combination of top stars and a massive budget to generate a similar phenomenon as the drama "Winter Sonata" that set off the Korean Wave. Experts anticipate that the drama will help stave off a backlash against the popularity of Korean pop culture, which some patriots feel has come at the expense of home-grown entertainment, by combining talent from both countries.
Deals with nine Asian countries have been completed, recouping almost all of the stellar production costs. Japanese experts foresee that the DVD and original soundtrack -- which includes a song by Korean singer Lee Seung-chul -- will rake in hundreds of billions of won in profits.
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