The Sunday edition of the Chosun Ilbo carried a whole-page color ad wishing actor Kim Soo-hyun the best of luck at the annual Baeksang Arts Awards, which was held on Tuesday.
The advertisement was paid for by a lone admirer.
A full-page color ad in a daily newspaper normally costs over W10 million (US$1=W1,024).
But more and more fans are forking out to congratulate their idols on their birthday or to promote their new album or soap opera.
Chinese fans of Yoon-a of girl band Girls' Generation in December put an ad on the screen door of the busy Myeongdong subway station in Seoul to promote her latest TV drama.
And fans of a rock band CNBLUE paid for adverts on buses in Seoul in time for the release of the band’s new album in February.
Lee Yun-seong at Grida Partners, an agency arranging for such ads, said, "We've had an increasing number of fan clubs asking us to run ads. We do about five a month these days."
A 29-year-old member of the TVXQ fan club explains, "We can write letters and give presents to our stars, but there is a chance that the star won’t see them. But if we run a big ad for the same kind of money, the star can see our message and it has a marketing effect too."
Fan clubs out their ads on subway trains, buses or billboards rather than in newspapers or TV because they are relatively cheaper and can be highly effective in areas with large floating populations like Myeong-dong, Gangnam, and Yeouido.
Myeong-dong is particularly popular among Chinese-speaking fans as it is frequented by many Koreans and Chinese tourists. Yeouido is a great place to promote the stars to those working in broadcasting industry. Gangnam is home to many showbiz management agencies, hence a great place to show fans' loyalty.