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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 12:50 GMT
Korean star creates Tokyo frenzy
Bae Yong Joon
Soap star Bae Yong-joon got a rapturous welcome in Tokyo
Korean actor Bae Yong-joon has been greeted by thousands of screaming fans on a visit to Japan's capital Tokyo.

The 32-year-actor, who has starred in hit television dramas shown in Japan, is known as Yong Sama - a name which means "royalty" in Japanese.

The star has become one of the most popular actors in Japan due to a fashion for all things Korean.

Bae has become a household name for his role in Winter Sonata, a soap opera which scored huge ratings.

The actor said he was worried before making the trip to Tokyo.

Love affair

"I could hardly sleep last night. I was worried there would be so many fans that they might hurt themselves," he said.

The thousands of mainly middle-aged female fans who turned out to see Bae either cried or grabbed pictures of him on their mobile phones.

Fans were pleased to see their soap opera hero

Japan's love affair with Korea follows a tense history between the two nations, after the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910-45.

But the popularity of recent Korean soap operas has strengthened the sense of cultural affinity between the two countries.

Around 100,000 Japanese women are expected to go on tours of South Korea which feature locations from Winter Sonata.

The dramas usually feature traditional Asian values like repsect for parents, plus romance and nostalgia.

Critics have called the soap operas "soppy", and said that Japanese people should concentrate on changing their attitudes to ethnic Koreans who live in Japan.


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