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Dae Jang Geum Frenzy Hits Japan

Posted October. 31, 2005 03:01,   


Dae Jang Geum frenzy in Japan has been driving up the popularity of Korean food in Japan.

A “2005 Korean Cuisine Special Promotion” held at the NHK’s central hall in Tokyo yesterday demonstrated how a drama could bring two countries closer.

As many as 3,000 Japanese who sent in applications and were invited to the event as a result of a drawing, appreciated the unique taste of Korean dishes such as samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup), tteokbokki (a broiled dish of sliced rice cake, meat, eggs and seasoning), jabchae (a mixed dish of vegetables and sliced beef), kimchi, and traditional teas such as citron tea and ginseng tea.

The event, which offered Japanese fans a chance to meet the stars of the popular drama and enjoy Korean food, was co-hosted by NHK, a Japanese public broadcasting company, and the Korea Agro-Trade Corporation in commemoration of the 2005 Korea-Japan Friendship Year.

Yang Mi-gyeong and Jo Jung-eun, actresses who played Court Lady Han and young Jang Geum, respectively in Dae Jang Geum, were inundated with requests for autographs from Japanese housewives.

Dae Jang Geum, which began its run on an NHK terrestrial channel on October 8 with the title “Promise of Jang Geum” is enjoying a high viewer rating of more than 20%, more than double the viewer rating of “Winter Sonata,” a smash hit Korean drama which triggered Hallyu, better known as the “Korean Wave,” in Japan.

Unlike Winter Sonata, which was mostly watched by middle-aged housewives, Dae Jang Geum has a broader fan base, attracting Japanese men who are not traditionally big fans of dramas. And its fan base is getting bigger.

Won-Jae Park parkwj@donga.com