Jul 17, 2006
I am sure many of you have heard about the book “Yon-sama Gekijo (Yon-sama Theater)” written by our sister satovic. With her kind permission I will translate the final chapter of this book –
“Act Yon (four) Love forever – A Journal by a Straw Millionaire”.
Written by: satovic
Published by: SOFTBANK Publishing,
June 20, 2005
Act Yon (four)
A Journal by a Straw Millionaire
Act Yon (four)
A Journal by a Straw Millionaire
I, satovic, an ultra realist fell in love with a prince. I finally came to realize that the only way out of this was to “be a mad fan, until I get sick it”. Oh, but how I cherish the happy days I spent with my lovable friends. Marveling at the wonders of the PC among other things, I look back on the year packed with “Bae Yong Joon”.
Act Yon (four) Scene One
☆ The World is waiting for Yon-sama!
* Acting like a groupie for the first time in my life
I know this is a dream, but I don’t want to wake up from it, I want to keep on dreaming forever- that was the feeling I had through out the year. I knew that a magic spell had been cast on me, but please let me keep on living in this state…. I couldn’t believe that I of all people would have such irrational thoughts. You know why? I am a hard-core realist. Enough to make myself sick. I’m the type of person that thinks, “what’s the use of having waxed fruit around the house- you can’t eat it!” So, when I ended up going head over heals over someone I would never able to meet, let alone have the chance to be friends with, I couldn’t believe myself.
But… surprise! It feels great! Oh, how my heart beats just to watch him. I want to know all about him, I want to talk about him. It’s so hard for me to admit this… but yes, this must be love, right?
Oh, but you can’t get yourself into this! But I do so want to see him! OK, so you see him, what next? Get his autograph, shake his hand, and that’s the end of it. You’re probably just one out the hundreds of fans he sees everyday… yeah, my mind knows all that, but what does that have to do with it?! I JUST WANT TO MEET HIM, SET MY EYES ON HIM, HEAR HIS VOICE! I don’t care if it doesn’t make any sense; I just want to see him period!
Just what is he like? It was late in December 2003, when I opened my PC and typed the name I just learned in the search window. Bae Yong Joon… Here we go… Boy oh boy, incredible! There were already thousands of websites on Yong Joon-san, and they were from all over Asia. The richly colored Taiwan site had loads of images from his dramas and commercials and I just had my eyes glued to the screen!
Up till then, my use of the PC was limited to work and sending mail to friends. So, when I was able to see his interview on the website NHK had for “Winter Sonata”, I was excited as a caveman who first saw fire. “Wow, PC is GREAT!!” ….um, a reaction that’s a bit late for someone who’s been using it for so many years…
By exploring the links the websites offered, I eventually encountered an English site called “BYJ’s Quilt”. The site was packed with information on him including photos and VODs, and the more I read about him, it made me marvel and think - “what a great guy!” This man respected his fans, was deeply considerate towards those around him, and behaved in a noble way as if he took pleasure in giving to others. He also worked hard to do his best as a professional, and he was shy… I wanted to know everything about him, and I wanted to act in the same way he did.
“Oooh, so he’s an early riser. He goes to bed by 12:50. Okay, I’ll get up early, and go to bed early, too!” Gosh, I’m acting like a kid. How is it different from saying, “Ultraman brushes his teeth, so I’m gonna brush my teeth, too”? I can’t help but laugh at myself, but if I can be a good girl by having Yong Joon-san as my model, what have I got to lose?
☆ “Bae Yong Joon Press Service” – a great provider of information
The official Japanese site was closed at the time, so I thoroughly immersed myself in this English site called “Quilt”. The language used here was English alright, but because the fans here were mainly Asians, it was not that hard to comprehend. In fact, it was really easy! There, people used “ur” for “you are”, and “4u” for “for you”, and lots of other puzzle-like abbreviations – once I figured these out, I somewhat felt like I was part of the club. Since the days of online service ten years ago, I had actually been living in this world connected by phone lines, but I never thought of participating in a community or message boards like these. My attitude was, “what’s so fun about talking to someone you can’t even see? It’s a world for nerds!” Now, just who would have imagined a world as exciting as this?”
In “Quilt”, the “Bae sisters” (we call each other “sisters” – like a convent, huh?) from places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, China, Canada, and America all through balls of information and jokes to one another. And with what speed!
When Yong Joon-san’s Asian Tour started in March of 2004, these sisters gave us information on him in a timely manner. Attaching photos and VODs, we were able to know just what he did, what he said, and how fabulous he was that day. When the local television and newspapers reported on him, articles were scanned immediately, and news programs were delivered as VODs. This was like a “Bae Yong Joon Press Service”! The messages he delivered in Korean were promptly translated into English, and from there, sisters translated them into Cantonese, Mandarin, and Thai so that his comments spread throughout Asia. The speed of our service may not meet the standards of Reuter, but it probably beats ITAR-TASS!
What amazes me the most about all this is that everything is done without compensation. Only out of kind feelings of wanting to “share with others”, fans provided service matching that of professional press agencies, with no one taking charge. It was all done voluntarily and laconically. One only tended to matters in their element, and left other tasks to fellow fans. This is why everything went so smoothly. What then, can I do? If and when Yong Joon-san comes to Japan, I wanted to show my appreciation to my Asian sisters!
Comes April, his first visit to Japan! NOW, is the time, but I am at loss when it comes to uploading photos and Vods on the site. So, I came up with the idea of writing a report on his stay in Japan from the viewpoint of a fan, and posted them on Quilt everyday. I hated English composition, but I didn’t have to mind too much about the grammar, I could write in Asian English, and it was probably better than nothing… Thus, I wrote these reports in a casual manner.
☆ Happily, I wrote away
The reaction to my report was astonishing. There was hardly any information from Japan, so within a few hours after posting my report on Quilt, it was translated into Korean and posted on KOB. My god, my writings were transformed into Hangul! Two hours later, a Chinese version was attached to it:
(I could not decide whether to go to the airport to meet him, or to go to the hotel.)
Wow, this was something! To think that this report was going to be read
by fans all over the vast land of China… I was overwhelmed. I could
hear the music of the NHK documentary program “Silk Road” ringing in
I tried putting the Korean version on the translator to see what kind of translation it would give me in Japanese. As a result, I could understand about 80 percent, but the remaining 20 percent was so messed up that it was hilarious. The “Bae” in his name was translated into homonyms like “stomach” and “ship”, so in English, it ended up like this:
“Stomach Yongzun-nim Journal of the First Day in Japan 9:00 am
I was confused surowannida whether to go meet him in airport or kaya in New Otani Hotel.”
I was further encouraged by the thank you comments from the “Bae
sisters” around the world. I thought, “hey, I can do it!” I had always
dreaded English composition so much, but now I was writing away happily!
To tell the truth, I had gone to the New Otani Hotel on the day he arrived in Japan, but there were so many people in front of me that I was not able to see him. And to think that he was walking only 10 meters ahead of me…
The Korean flag, Taegeukgi, was fluttering at the entrance of the hotel. Yong Joon-san got off the black limousine that sled into the pathway, and smiling, walked past the people waiting for him at the front lobby, and disappeared into the elevator. The whole thing took about one minute. But the mere thought that “Bae Yong Joon was actually right in front of me” made my heart pound faster. The person who saw him up close in the front row was screaming, “I don’t need photographs! Absolutely not! He had such a small face, long legs, and was 100 times better looking in person!” Ohh, if I had come just an hour earlier…
When I got on the elevator with people who had been around me, someone said, “oh, this is the elevator Yong Joon had got on!” everyone in the elevator screamed “AHHH!” in joy. I couldn’t believe myself, this was SO ridiculous! For god’s sake, I’m not a school girl you know, but I couldn’t help being happy! I was embarrassed for being so overjoyed, but I couldn’t stop smiling. Alright, I might as well make a fool out of myself until I get tired of it. The word “groupie” had not existed in my dictionary up till now, but now it became a part of my life; and thus with people like myself around the world, I came to develop a great relationship – very much like a straw millionaire.
☆ Don’t You Have to Go Sightseeing?
I was not able to obtain the tickets for the fan meeting that was held in the Shibuya Kokaido Public Hall the next day. Standing in the cold rain outside the hall for many hours, I gathered comments from people as they came out of the meeting, and posted them on Quilt. But I didn’t know what to do from the next day, so at the end of the posting, I added, “if you have any information, please contact me”. From this, I received a message from an unexpected place. A member from the “Joon’s Family” in Singapore sent me an e-mail letting me know the cell phone number of the members visiting Tokyo. These fans were invited to the fan meeting from Yong Joon-san’s manager. Being simple-minded, I thought, “Any guest of Yong Joon’s is my guest, too!”, and immediately decided to become their guide.
We agreed to meet by the express bus terminal in Shinjuku (Tokyo). When I got there, I saw a group of 4 people looking around, holding up a big facial portrait of Yong Joon-san’s face. Um, yes… yes, it IS a beautiful picture of him, but even I was embarrassed to approach them…. But I immediately became close to these fans whose age ranged from 20 to 50.
I asked them, “Where would you like to go? Would you like to see the traditional sights of Japan like Asakusa? Would you like to go shopping? Or, do you want to go to Korea Town?” Instantly, all of them replied, “Korea Town!” “Oh… are you sure? This IS Japan, you know. Don’t you want to see Japan at all?” “Kenchana, kenchana! We want to go to Korea Town to buy YJ’s magazines.”
I must say, the symptoms of this disease were quite universal!
I tried asking the same questions I asked to the Japanese fans in front of the Hotel New Otani and Shibuya Kokaido. “Have you ever been a big-time fan of anyone before Yong Joon?”
The answer was, NO. It was the same as the Japanese fans. Ninety percent of the people never had the experience of acting like a groupie or going head over heals over a star, and even if they did, it was since the days of being a Beatles fan. Most of them had always thought, “I can’ believe people who chase stars around – such low taste”, and looked down on them. So, this was a first for all of us.
There are other traits Yong Joon-san’s fans have in common. Many of us have taken on new challenges with a positive attitude, like buying a PC for the first time with the desire of getting to know him better, learning Korean, or starting to play the piano. It was the same with our Singapore friends. They, too, have started leaning Korean, tackled the PC… One of them said this.
“I used to hate traveling. Any kind of trip, with friends, or even with my family. But guess what? This is my fourth overseas trip this year! Can you believe it?”
This fan tagged along with Yong Joon’s Asian tour to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. And his schedule is never finalized until the last minute. With this Japan tour, too, it was Friday evening that she received a phone call from his manager. These ladies then negotiated with their bosses to take time off from work, reserved flight tickets, convinced their families, and flew to Japan to participate in the fan meeting that was held on Sunday. What energy!! She laughed joyfully, “I can’t believe it either!”
Just what is it about Bae Yong Joon that changes the minds of the people so? Even from the viewpoint of behavioral science, it can be called amazing power. The five of us talked on and on about such things, and enjoyed ourselves like we had been friends for a long time.
☆ Tracing His Airplane in the Sky
On Yong Joon’s official Japanese site, however, a heated debate was going on about these ladies attending the fan meeting. There was a posting that claimed, “It is unforgivable that these foreign fans were able to attend the meeting when we Japanese had such a hard time obtaining tickets”.
I thought, “Hey, why be so narrow-minded! If Yong Joon is saying that these are his guests, what’s the problem?!” In reality, the Japanese site had just re-opened a few days before his trip to Japan was decided, and even with matters such as the ways of greeting him, people argued: “We should not go to the airport”, “No, we should!”, “Don’t wait for him to come out of the hotel”, “Let’s refrain from seeing him off” etc. etc. The board was full of highly heated arguments on the most trivial issues.
But, immediately after Yong Joon-san’s comment that thanked the fans was posted on the site on the evening of April 7, the mood changed completely as if magical spell had been cast. Everybody started to write messages full of love to him.
“Thank you for coming to Japan.”
“Thank you for a wonderful time – it was like a dream.”
“Thank you for your love.”
Pages and pages of messages filled with appreciation like these were posted all night long until the following morning. So many people tried to access the site, that it was impossible to open it. In the end, 773 messages were posted by 6 am, and the site was overflowing with love. When I saw this, tears welled up in my eyes, and I couldn’t stop crying. Hey, was I always a mushy person like this? It seemed like I was easily reduced to tears ever since meeting Yong Joon…The affectionate words of love delivered in many pages was like a red carpet woven for the event of his return to his own country.
Although Yong Joon had requested in his message, “please see me off in your hearts”, approximately 600 fans gathered at the airport. But the majority of fans saw him off in their own hearts; in the office, in one’s own home, school, or shop. And some of us witnessed him up in the sky, and made postings on the board.
“His plane just went past my house, and flew toward Hokuriku.”
“Yes. I was able to see him from Otsu! He just went over Hieizan and is headed north west.”
“This is Hokuriku. The plane flew from the east and his headed west. I was not able to move until it disappeared over the mountains.”
How we all searched for he bronze plane of Asiana Air Lines in the blue sky. The fans traced the airplane track and prayed in their hearts, “Please let him go back safely. And please come back again! Arigato, Yong Joon”. From east to west, from longitude to longitude, fans from all over Japan relayed the prayers for Yong Joon. And the fan living in the very west end of Japan, Nagasaki, wrote in the end. “How I wish I were a bird, for I would be able to fly after his wings…”
Six wild days – this is how it ended. After Yong Joon left, I discovered that not only had I not cooled down, my fever was worse than ever. And a few weeks later, an envelope that arrived from Singapore became the seed of the straw millionaire. More on this story, later.
Act Yon (Four) Scene Two
Bombing the Board with Jokes and Strategy for Compiling a Manual
☆ Could it be a spell? Lines after Lines of “KOB”
When “Winter Sonata” was aired by ground-based broadcasting just at the same time Yong Joon-san was visiting Japan, the Japanese Official Board (JOB) attracted an enormous number of people who were making their very first attempt at opening the PC, wanting to know all about this man. Because these newcomers did not have a clue on how to use the board, they indiscriminately made postings stating, “Please help”. On top of these, there were some who made use of the board by posting personal messages like “Dear so and so”, only to have others criticize them. The JOB turned into a place where people exchanged brutal comments, and it seemed like someone was always complaining about someone or something.
In real life, we usually try to read the other person’s true intentions not just by the words they speak, but also by their expressions and tone of voice. Turning to a world where we are only able to rely on written words, once we become tangled up with these words, it can only evolve into a mess. I came to realize that once people started to get emotional, the situation was beyond repair. Some tried to intervene, but it only made matters worse. There were others that patiently tried to answer the questions raised by the novice fans. But it became clear to me that this too, was useless, after I encountered a strange thread on the board. The thread read, “Please teach me how I can see the Korean official The thread read, “Please tell me how to reach the Korean official site.” What I saw on the screen were lines after lines of the same phrase that seemed like a spell – “Korean official site”, “Korean official site”, “Korean official site”… What could this be? And when I finally realized what was going on, I laughed so hard that I almost fell off my chair.
The JOB has a “search” function – when you type in a keyword in the small window for SEARCH and click the button next to it, we are able to see only the threads containing the keyword. Because many people asked for advice on how to access the KOB everyday, the first person who read this thread replied, “If you type ‘Korean official site” in the window, you will be able to find many threads that will contain answers to this question.” But from what I can guess, for a person who is new to the world of PCs, they probably were not able to distinguish a “Search window” from a comment section. This person no doubt typed “Korean official site” in the “comment section”, but because he or she could not get it right, they probably repeated the same action over and over…thus ended up getting a page full of responses entitled “Korean official site”. So, that’s it - this person was trying to SEARCH something!
After laughing my head off, I immediately started to think. Teaching novice PC users in this way seemed like an endless task. What we needed was a basic manual… But if I were to make such a suggestion, it would no doubt become another issue for debate. Before stating my opinion, I needed to create an environment where people would listen to me. So, what would be a good way?
I then decided to embark on an operation of throwing joke bombs on the JOB. If it was funny, people will be more at peace reading my thread and it should not become a cause for a conflict. Moreover, when people see my postings in the future, they would think, “I want to read this one because it’s written by HER”. So, this is what I came up with. I promptly made a “How Severe is your Bae Yong Joon Fever?” test, in the old “News Station Friday Edition” style (translator’s note – this test was a popular series in the program “News Station”), and posted it on the board.
* Have you become sensitive to hear numbers such as 40 (reads yon-ju in Japanese), 42 (yon-juni), 43 (yon-jusan) and 47 (yon-ju-nana).
Do you have a tendency to mix Korean phrases like “Kre” and “Miane” in your daily conversation?
Have you bought a white turtle-neck sweater for your husband, knowing very well that it would not fit him?
Do you feel a sense of relief when you find that the “Winter Sonata” videos are being lent in your local video store?
(You are sensitive to the popularity of the videos.)
Do you feel meaninglessly happy when you walk by a Korean barbecue restaurant? (Anything related to Korea becomes a cause for happiness!)
Have you ever been excited to see the title, “Kureyon Shin-chan” in the TV guide? (Translator’s note - “Kureyon Shin-chan” is a popular children’s cartoon)
So, the test I shared based on the funny things that happened to me after becoming a Yong Joon fan turned out to be a astonishing hit. In those days, a posting collecting 3000 hits was considered a good one, but mine attracted over 5000, and it also received 60 responses.
Regarding the results, I set the diagnosis for this test as follows:
A. Low-grade fever
D. No hope
In the responses, people happily wrote things like, “My level was D, it’s too late!” or “I must go to Seoul to cure it”. OH, I was so relieved! I was by no means the only one who had come down with this fever. There was even a fan who claimed that the conversation she heard on the street sounded like Korean to her. I can’t talk. Witnessing the same symptoms, my husband also accused me of being “Bae crazy”.
I suffered from a stomachache just from reading these responses. There were kids who gave ephemeral names to their beetles and goldfish like “Chan-Woo” and “Jaeho”. Other families had fun in other ways: a husband who was asked his age answered “(Bae) “Yon-ju” roku (46)”, when his wife said “My son is Choi Ji Woo-hachi (18)”.
I was so pleased with the outcome of my effort, that I decided to use the board to entertain my fellow fans, and named my postings “Satovic Theater.”
☆ Receiving Great Responses to the “Sang Hyuk” Test
It seemed like I wasn’t the only one among the people who made postings that felt the same way. Previously on the JOB, we were able to upload music and photos, but just around this time, this became no longer possible for the purpose of “copyright protection”. The fans from the sites overseas said to us, “A board that can’t use music or photos is no fun at all”. But I thought it was possible to come up with something interesting even with just words. People like me put in all kinds of ideas to cook up something fun to read. Great people come out in times of adversity. Many people recall that a simple dumpling they ate in post-war times was the best thing they ever tasted – I shared a similar sentiment. To me, those were the best times at the JOB.
Anyway, I tried writing funny things that would be read by my fellow fans, and posted a series of tests – measuring the degree of likeness to Chelin, Yujin and Sang Hyuk. Among these tests, the one the readers were most responsive to, was “Test your hubby’s, son’s, boyfriend’s etc… likeness to Sang Hyuk.” It was a test to measure the degree of their Sang Hyuk-ness in coming between you (Yujin) and Joon Sang:
Does your husband, son, or boyfriend -
* Ask you, “Where are you going?” more often than he used to?
* Does he unfailingly ask you, “What were you doing today?” when you get home?
* Has he ever changed your screensaver behind your back?
* Does he unfailingly become sick when you are looking forward to something?
* Does he fool around with “Bae Yong Joon”’s name whenever he needs to say it aloud?
* Does he drive you up the wall by saying say, “I want a snack” right before 11 p.m. every Saturday (airtime for “Winter Sonata”)?
* Does he all the sudden become a fan of Sanma Akashiya (a popular comedian and MC of a counterprogram) at 11 p.m. every Saturday?
* Does he have at least 3 memorabilia hidden in the back of the closet?
(If there is something that he insisted on carrying himself when you moved, that’s it.)
* Is he unnecessarily well-behaved when he speaks to your neighbors?
* Does he make important decisions on his own without consulting you?
(Is this tendency greater with issues of more importance, and are his decisions usually wrong?)
* Does he have a cubbyhole in the house where he can “feel sorry for himself”?
* Does he have a distaste for winter?
* Does he believe that the world is unfair?
I received thousands of hilarious responses from fans who had partners with high ratings on this test. Husbands that unfailing turned on the faucet in the kitchen when it was time for “Winter Sonata”, boyfriends who start to drive roughly when K-POP starts to play on the car stereo, husbands who observe their rival in the Hanryu magazine while his wife is out of the house (he tells his 9 year old boy, “You can be like Yong Joon san, too when you grow up” only to have his son get tearful saying, “No, I can’t…”) etc. etc. The board buzzed with excitement, as women who had become addicted to Yong Joon-san and sat before the PC with a dazed look on their faces exchanged information on the “Sang Hyuks” around them.
☆ Strategy for Compiling a Manual for PC Beginners
Among the responses I received on the “Sang Hyuk” test, the one that really grabbed me was a posting by a fan named “ottokke”-san. Exactly like the Korean word itself (어떻게meaning “how” or “what should I do?!”), boredom was unheard of in her household, when it came to matters on Yong Joon.
Response from ottokke-san
Dear Mino-san, no, I mean satovic-san (Monta Mino, a popular Japanese MC has a personal-advice session on his own show), my husband is a “Sang Hyuk”. Not only can I answer “YES” to all the questions on the test, he comes home exactly at 9:50 every Tuesday evening (“Hotelier” starts at 10), takes a bath, and turns the channel to “XX Station”….. Having such a husband, I come up with strategies more ingenious than all the FBIs, CIAs and M&As of the world put together, in order to protect the Yong Joon in my house. Little does he know – that the “Winter Sonata” DVD set is hidden under the dry foods can (the dry mushroom can is a no-no, the smell is too strong), the bookmark for he JOB is named “Beads Shop”, the “Hotelier” DVD Box acts like a jewelry box on top of my dresser (oh, I can just imagine the scene). Today is the final episode of “Hotelier”, and I can just feel it coming～ ♪
This was my encounter with “ottokke”-san, who is the illustrator of this book.
Ignoring her desperate efforts in hiding her expensive DVD Boxes and other YJ goods, her husband embarks on a house search without prior warning!!
Ottokke-san screams, “It’s a raid!” and gathers all her valuables and runs to her friend’s house. Oh, no! He’s even going into the far corners of the closet! …. What a thrilling documentary!
Six more reports followed this one, and ottokke-san’s story on the “Project X” of her home made the fans in front of the PC laugh until their sides ached.
When I translated her reports into English and posted them on Quilt, people all around the world responded with delight. The next day, it was translated into Chinese, and sent the fans in Taiwan and China in a whirlwind of laughter.
Actually, we learned that the Chinese fans were also having a heated discussion on how to hide their magazines from their husbands in their dressers. So, I guess the nature of husbands and wives are the same in any country!
The JOB became an exciting forum with people posting funny stories, and other fans responding with even better episodes (they called themselves “reslers”). Then finally, I took advantage of this mood to carry out my main operation, and posted a notification on making a manual for PC beginners. Fortunately, because many people had been coming to my threads to read funny stories, I was not criticized for my suggestions, even if I had seemed a bit impudent. In this way, I continued my project and posted at least one section a day, on the “ HOWTOs of Using the Board” manual.
About one month after I started this, I received an e-mail from President Sohn of IMX who was maintaining this site. He notified me that he wanted to compile a manual based on mine, and put it up on JOB. The manual you can see on the present site was made at that time. I remember that I felt very happy at the time, that I was able to make a small contribution in helping Yong Joon-san.
So, it was in such a way, the wild days of strengthening ties among Yong Joon fans went by.
Act Yon (Four) Scene Three
A Tale of a Straw Rice Bowl and a Pair of Very Long Chopsticks
☆The More the Merrier
Through posting funny stories along with the board manual, the fans on the site were becoming closer to each other. In real life, by meeting people at the Hotel New Otani and the fan meeting at Shibuya, I was developing a friendship with the people behind the ID. Up till then, there was no one around me who took interest in Yong Joon-san. The only colleague of mine who had seen “Winter Sonata” said to me, “You know that guy you like? That man playing Min Hyung, he’s really cute, isn’t he....Bue Yong Joon, was it?”
NOT “Bue”, for god’s sake! The name is “Bae”…. I used to walk home with a lonely heart, but now that I was making Bae friends, I was so happy!
So, I made a suggestion on the JOB, “Isn’t it time we get together?” and one of the fans was quick to take action. On May 2004, as many as 150 of us got together at a Korean restaurant in Shin Okubo. Since Yiruma-san (the pianist who composed a song in “Winter Sonata”) was visiting Japan at the time, we were able to have a mini-concert as well, and the occasion turned out to be an elaborate affair – almost like a “Tokyo Bae Yong Joon Festival”. Then, when I posted a report on the event on JOB, out of the blue, I received a mail from a fan called O-san, who I had never met. It said, “I was moved by the passionate energy of the staff that arranged the meeting. Then, all the sudden, I had an idea. We produce Arita ware in our family, and among our products there is a rice bowl with a picture of a snowman. I might be stretching it too far to link a snowman with “Winter Sonata”, but if it would be alright with you, I would like to send these bowls to you and your staff”.
What?! I was happy to hear that she was impressed by my report on the board, but I had never even met this fan before, and moreover, she was not someone who got something out of the event… But after a few days, I received a box filled with LOTS of rice bowls with an adorable snowman painted on it. It was so cute, that I was thrilled and sent her a poster of Yong Joon-san to express my appreciation, and again O-san wrote back to me. She claimed that the poster had arrived to her home just at the perfect time.
☆ Layers of Joy Like a Gigantic Sandwich
In the southern island Kyushu in Japan, there was a murder case in which a sixth grade girl killed her classmate by stabbing her many times with a knife. This girl claimed that she did it because nasty things were posted about her on the internet. O-san lived in a neighboring town, very close to where the incident occurred. She said that her whole town was in great shock hearing about what happened in a place close to them, and it was just at that time, she received the poster that I had sent her. It seemed that Yong Joon-san’s smile had brightened up O-san’s low feelings, and once again she sent me tea, another specialty from her town. I then shared the rice bowls and tea with another fan. And it was from her that I received a DVD showing the fan meeting that took place in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Just around this time, I also received an envelope from Singapore. They had sent me a DVD of the fan meeting in Singapore, thanking me of the time I spent with them as their guide in Tokyo in April. Like the story “Straw Millionaire”, I had three DVDs of the fan meeting held overseas. After seeing them, I discovered that they were SOOOO much fun! In the Hong Kong gathering, I was able to see the real Yong Joon-san; the fans made him watch a scene from an old drama where he does a funny dance, and Yong Joon-san fell off his chair in embarrassment. In Taiwan, he was smothered with kisses, and in Singapore he got himself in a bind trying to answer a question from a fan…
It was such a great DVD, that it was too good to see alone! So, I came up with the idea of doing a screening of the DVDs towards the end of August when it is Yong Joon-san’s birthday. I did not want to charge a fee for this. Instead, if fans felt gratitude from receiving love or courage from Yong Joon-san, they could express that by making a donation, and I wanted to make good use of everyone’s contribution and give the joy we got from it to Yong Joon-san as a gift…
Was that confusing for you? Ha, ha, ha, now this part is a bit tricky. Because the joy of all kinds of people pile up in layers like a sandwich, it’s hard to determine the subject of the whole story! Okay, I will try to explain it more clearly. First of all, there is the joy felt by the people who saw the DVDs, the joy of receiving courage and affection from Yong Joon-san, the joy of being able to participate in a fund raising project from being thankful of receiving that joy from him, and if we were able to gather all the “joy” into a bouquet and give it to him, I was sure that it would be the best birthday present of all.
I then called “cranberry” on the phone. Cranberry and I got to be great friends ever since we met in front of the Hotel New Otani. “Look, I want to try such an event, so could you do some research for me on an organization called LSH Asia Scholarship Foundation (Scholarship Foundation Commemorating the Recognition of Lee Soo-Hyun 李秀賢顕彰奨学会)?”
Cranberry, is such a great conversationist that I was tempted to rename her “Oshaberry” (meaning “talkative person” in Japanese), and she had the gift of making people relax in a gentle manner, and bringing out their true thoughts in a matter of no time. She probably made the most out of her experience as a housewife, and brushed up on her natural talent, while chatting with other housewives!
“Sure! Actually, he was somehow on mind, ever since I’ve made ties with Korea.”
Readily agreeing to my idea, she went to the foundation to inquire about the details of their program.
☆ A Bridge - Between Korea and Japan, and also Asia
Lee Soo-Hyun-san was a Korean student studying in Japan, who lost his life at Shin-Okubo Station on January 26, 2001. He had tried to save a drunken Japanese man who fell from the platform onto the tracks just as a train was coming in. I remembered what his mother had said when she was interviewed on a television program after the accident. “My son is praised by the Japanese people, but he did not do anything special. He only did what was normal as a human being.”
What a great mother! His parents did not accept a penny of the money collected as a token of sympathy, and donated 10 million yen to the Japanese to be used for a scholarship for Asian students studying in Japan.
However, as time passed, the incident became a distant memory in people’s minds, and because donations were smaller, the recipients of the scholarship decreased from 90 to 50 in the following year, and to a smaller number of 30 students in the year after that. Cranberry-san suggested that we start by visiting Shin Okubo Station first, and she bought a bouquet of flowers for the occasion. It was an act of kindness that came from her sympathy as a mother.
Actually, Lee Soo-Hyun-san should not have died, and some people said that his act that brought his parents and girlfriend to the depths of sorrow was too drastic. They thought it was wrong to make him a hero. But standing on the platform of Shin-Okubo Station, one cannot help asking one’s self, “How would I act if someone fell from here?”
When I tried timing the amount of time it took from the moment one saw a train come in, to the moment the train reaches the scene of the accident, it was only 9 seconds. I wondered what went through his mind during the 9 seconds. Surely, he must have thought about his loving parents… But I thought that Lee Soo-Hyun-san and the Japanese photographer named Shiro Sekine that jumped in at the same time probably could not bear to just watch someone die in front of them. They knew what was going to happen, but could not act otherwise. It was probably from the nature of such humane feelings I think, that they were driven to jump onto the tracks.
Love sometimes leads people to act in a foolish manner. But the death of this young man who was true to his feelings gave much courage to the people all over Japan, and left many questions in our hearts. “What would I have done?”
I did not want such feelings to fade, and by participating in this foundation, I hoped to support the young students who are trying to serve as a bridge not just between Korea and Japan, but the whole of Asia as well. With this intention, I asked to see their books of the past 3 years, and after confirming the sound management of the foundation, we decided that this was the place to donate the money collected from our members.
☆ A Super Team of 22 Staffs
SOOO, that was the beginning of the days of super hard work. We needed to search for the people who made the DVDs of the meetings in fan clubs of the respective countries to receive their permission, look for an appropriate place for the event, decide on a date, work on the translations, etc., etc… There was so much to do.
For this, we decided to recruit volunteers from our friends we met at the board and fan gatherings. The important thing in times like this is to seek people who enjoy doing things for others, rather than have things done for themselves. Those who like to have things done for them tend to complain when their given share is smaller than others, but with people who feel joy in doing things for others, things go a lot smoother.
It was easy to distinguish such people. In the past, there were members who brought photos and CDs to the fan gatherings to please others they met for the first time, there were those who were quick to run for plates when there weren’t enough at the table, those who took care of the payment when we checked out, and others who entertained us with good conversation and postings. To people like these, I sent out e-mail and asked, “I want to do a fund raising event, would you like to join us? But you have to remember that you will have to cover everything by yourselves, and there are no benefits like being able to see Yong Joon-san or anything like that. Would that be OK?” Oh, yes, another important point – the staff must be someone who can get a kick out of everything. There is no point in getting all serious in times of difficulty, so a sense of humor was a must.
As a result, we were able to recruit 17 super members. We had bankers, actresses, illustrators, programmers, housewives…people of different ages, jobs and nationalities. There was even a staff from the U.S. who I had never met, but we were able to work together through the net.
Not all of us were good with the PC. One day, I received a mail from a fan named “roses”-san from Osaka. She was sending the mail on behalf of another fan called “yuki”-san, who wanted to “organize an event in Osaka”. This yuki-san did not know how to use the mail system called “Brokore mail” (IMX) within our site, so she asked roses-san to send the message for her. I felt somewhat uncomfortable to work with someone like that, but when I talked to yuki-san on the phone, it did not take a minute to realize that she was a great person, and we decided to do the Osaka event on the spot.
In this way, adding the 5 members from Osaka, the 22 of us needed a place to get together, and we created such a space on the internet. That is the fan site called B.S.J. (BYJ Supporters in Japan). In August of 2004, the only thing we decided on upon starting this site, was to support Yong Joon-san’s activities under the motto, “Love, rather than be loved”. Also, we made it so that anyone could see and post things in the site without registration - as a result, we had people constantly joining us, and today we have become a large family with over 3000 members. (translator’s note – as of July 17, 2006, B.S.J. has 5118 members.)
☆ Let’s Have the Heart to Believe
After we decided to accept a total of 700 members in the two venues for the DVD screening that began as a birthday event, we started the preparations. For the members who were not able to come to the event as they lived too far from Tokyo and Osaka but wanted to participate in the fund raising, we chose to accept their contributions by mail. The only other thing we needed to do at this point was to make an announcement on how one can participate in this event. However, this included delicate issues.
Many of the fan sites overseas like Hong Kong and Singapore have charity events in their get-togethers. That is why IMX tried to initiate one when Yong Joon-san came to Japan in April. However, on the JOB, the majority of the members voiced their criticism about money-related matters. Thus, this plan went down the drain.
One day in August, I mustered up the courage to make a posting on the fund-raising on the JOB. At this very moment, the 22 staffs in the U.S. and Japan all held their breaths in their homes looking intently at their PCs. Soon, people began to respond to the thread.
“I am happy to be able to participate in such an event, because I thought I would not be able to do anything alone”, “Knowing that he would be troubled if I sent gifts on his birthday, I am happy that I now have a way to express my good wishes”…. Seeing a series of positive comments I felt relieved for the time being. But after a while, the responses became diverse. “You shouldn’t do things by taking liberty with Yong Joon’s name”, “Money-related things should not be initiated on this board”, “Their may be people who will imitate this act with bad intentions”, “Do it own your own - don’t make use of the board for something you thought up”, “Something like that should be done by the government or a company – fan’s should not get involved. If it causes problems, Yong Joon himself will get in trouble”, etc. etc.
Look, if fans don’t do it, who will?! We know very well that we have to plan this carefully so he doesn’t get in trouble and that it does not cause problems…. Mumbling such thoughts, I continued to watch the board to see what would happen. And when I was beginning to think that things were taking a dark turn, one fan made the following posting:
“It is natural that people have different opinions about money-related issues. I can also see why people would be skeptical to something that may lead to trouble for Yong Joon. But I have been reading satovic-san’s postings for many months, and it’s hard for me to imagine that she would do something irresponsible. Of course it is important to think critically for something like this because we all want to put Yong Joon first, but why don’t we also have the heart to believe?”
Tears started to flow from my eyes. By continuously posting my ideas on the board, I was beginning to earn trust from some people… Even though we have never met, these people understood what kind of person I was from these posts…. Staring at the PC screen, I could not stop crying from joy. Hey, just when did I become such a sentimentalist!!
From the following day, many people gathered expressing their wish to help. We also were able to form a translation team of Korean, English and Chinese. Everyone did their best in what they believed they were good at, and just like the “Bae Yong Joon Press Service”, everyone who was involved contributed in making the work go smoothly. From the family overseas, we received posters and other goods, and what started out as an event to share 3 DVDs, we had tons of goods and the most wonderful people getting together for this occasion. We were truly “straw millionaires”!
Over 1000 people participated in this event in the form of donations. An unbelievable amount of money was collected, and the foundation was able to increase the number of recipients of the scholarship to as many as 50 students! Where did this power come from? When I thought about it, there was only one answer. I may be talking big, but it is the power of love. The power that came from the fans with the urge to respond to the love a man named Bae Yong Joon gave to his family, and the urge to share this love.
Thank you so much, Joon! On 4:44, 44 seconds P.M. (←I decided on this time, a series of “yon”s - the Japanese for four), August 29, which is his birthday, let’s all call out “Sarang hae yo” to him in our hearts (even if you cannot participate in the event) towards Seoul, in thanks for his love. That was what I proposed on the JOB once again. Yong Joon-san, did you feel just a teeny bit tickled on the east side of your body?
☆ Let’s Return the Love to the Fans in the Local Regions
We were able to go through with the DVD screening project without any mishaps, and we received a mail of appreciation directly from BOF (his management company in Seoul), telling us that Yong Joon-san himself was very pleased with our event. When I read in an interview article of a close staff of his in a magazine, “The best birthday present Yong Joon-san received was the donation that was made by the fans to Lee Soo-Hyun’s Asia Scholarship Foundation”, I jumped up in joy and almost hit my head up on the ceiling. Tears welled in my eyes. I thought Yong Joon would understand…
Charity activities do not mean much if they are a one-shot deal. Even if they are on a small scale, it is important to continue them. So, we decided to put on a Valentine’s event as our next project.
Just as we began preparing for it in December of 2004, a terrible thing happened. The servers for JOB and the Brokore circles (maintained by IMX) crashed due to cyberterrorism. After hearing what happened, the various fans whom I met through the previous event came to my mind. One mother had lost her child, and finally gained the courage to get out of the house after seeing “Winter Sonata”…. Another fan was fighting the same illness as Jaeho, and had very little time left, but was able to live her life fully because of Yong Joon-san. I, too, more than anything had looked forward to talking to all kinds of people on the JOB, so when this incident happened, it was like losing a place to go home to.
We couldn’t just sit and watch. After the new year holidays, we set up a temporary site, taking in the 25 fan-sites on the Brokore circle, and made it available for the fans for the time being. Until the official site reopened, we took turns in keeping watch of the site 24 hours a day trying to fend off the anti-Korea activists, hackers and internet trolls. We were all quite exhausted by the time this site closed, but we had nearly 1 million hits in 2 months. We were also able to go through the Valentine charity screening event as we had announced on this temporary site.
On top of the donations we received for the foundation, fans also chipped in to help out on the operating cost of the events. Much of these additional contributions were made by the people from local regions who could not come to the events. How we wished to give something in return to the people in these places! The idea we came up with, was to have art exhibits with the works created by the fans. Just by packing the works and the how-tos on a truck, it would be possible to have exhibits in any town regardless of its size.
Many women have created works in various forms of art, possessing an irrepressible desire to express their feelings of being moved by a beautiful existence called Bae Yong Joon – many of these are shared on the internet. We wanted to gather these works, and have people realize that this “Yon-sama” phenomenon is not just a trend with women going ga-ga over a star, but that he is someone who is giving us joy and hope by lighting up our “passion to live”.
Responding to our proposal, the families of Kyoto, Hiroshima, Akita, Aomori, and Hokkaido raised their hands. People with expertise such as interior coordinators and lawyers, offered their knowledge to actualize these projects. The artists offered to put their works up for auction. Literature is another form of art, and writers who compiled the works written by fans, generously donated the royalties of the books.
So, the money collected in these exhibits also came to a large amount, and we donated them to the tsunami-devastated areas of Asia through the non-profit organization World Vision, and also to the areas affected by the Niigata Earthquake via Japanese Red Cross Society. I would like to add that the accounts for the three events are uploaded on the B.S.J. site.
☆ A Tale of a Pair of Very Long Chopsticks
Looking back on the past year, what comes to my mind is a certain anecdote, saying life is like “eating a meal with a pair of chopsticks longer than the length of one’s elbow.”
This story tells us that people tend to think that “life is hard” or “it is difficult to get by in this world”, but this is a misunderstanding. Rather, it is like sitting around a grand feast and trying to eat with long chopsticks. Because the chopsticks longer than the length of one’s elbow get stuck every where, it takes a lot of effort just to have a bite to eat, and the volume one can eat is small, too. Thus, people get impatient and greedy, leading them to think life is hard, or it is difficult to get by.
However, god has actually provided ample food in front of us to enjoy life. What is a good way to eat it? How can everyone at the table have their stomachs full even with long chopsticks?
The answer is easy! I can pick up the food with my chopsticks and feed it to the person across the table, and someone at the other side can feed me in return. The long chopsticks are not meant for one’s self, but by feeding each other with them, life provides a rich feast enough to satisfy everyone.
In the spring of 2004, I had nothing in my hands, but the fans from all over Asia gave me their passion. By thanking them and giving things in return, I was blessed with delightful friends, and many acquaintances, and through the three events (with 7700 people from all over Japan participating in the art exhibits), I was able to make ties with nearly 10,000 people. I am like the “straw millionaire”. Not a penny is left from it, but I have happiness and joy stacked up on my palms.
The first straw was given to me from Yong Joon-san. By watching this man who always lives with a sincere attitude, and seeks to share joy with others, we the fans are motivated to imitate him.
I would like to wish you farewell, concluding this book with wuri-boss’s words:
“I have learned that love is more valuable when it is shared with others.”
- Bae Yong Joon
☆ Illustration courtesy of ottokke-san
1. Introducing Sato-Mi Sook
2.The concept was: Madam Jo being the only role among Yong Joon-san’s
works in which the heroine cannot confess her love to him, Sato-Mi Sook was going to make this confession for her.
3. “I love you!”
4. A hair stick made of amber (authentic)
Borrowed from a fan who got it at the “The Elegant and Dangerous World” exhibit.
5. Mi Sook wig
A masterpiece made by the staff of B.S.J.
Braided with tightly rolled silk cloth. The beautiful hair stick is made of
6. Spatula of okonomiyaki (Japanese chijimi)
(the gorgeous hair pick was made in respect for Hiroshima fans
- Hiroshima is famous for its “okonomiyaki”)
7. Chogori – Very dark navy with flowered embroidery on the sleeves.
8. Flower pedals – Of course you know what they are?!
The tragic scene beautifully acted out by Mi Sook-san…
But when it comes to Sato-Mi Sook – great material for a good laugh.
9. Chima – Wish you could see the color!
Crimson red with magnificent crane broidery at the hem.
For those of you who are not familiar with the tale of
＜The Straw Millionaire＞here it is:
Long, long ago there was an honest but unlucky man living in a village. He worked and worked from morning till night but he was always poor and unlucky.
Thinking of it as his last chance, he one day prayed to KANNON (the Goddess of Mercy) for his happy future, neither eating nor drinking all day.
When it became dark in the evening, the Goddess of Mercy appeared in front of him and said to him,
"You will fall down and catch something when you leave this temple. You should go west with it."
On leaving the temple, he fell down and caught something. It was a straw. Though he thought it was useless, he walked towards the west with the straw.
A horsefly flew to him. He caught and tied it on the top of the straw and walked again.
When he arrived in a town, a crying baby stopped crying at the sight of the horsefly on the top of the straw. Seeing the joyful baby, he gave it to the baby. Instead he was given three oranges by his mother.
He walked heading west again with three oranges. He saw a young lady suffering by the roadside. As she wanted water, he gave her the oranges. Soon she recovered. He was given a beautiful silk cloth in exchange.
He walked towards west again with the beautiful silk cloth. He met a SAMURAI, or Japanese soldier and his weak horse. On seeing the beautiful cloth, the Samurai demanded that he exchange it with his horse and headed east with the cloth. The man looked after the weak horse all night. The horse got well the next morning.
He walked towards the west again with the horse. When he arrived in a castle town, a CHOJA, or a millionaire saw the horse and liked it very much. The man was invited to the Choja's house, where his daughter brought two cups of tea to them. To his surprise, it was the young lady he had given the oranges to. The Choja was so moved by this amazing coincidence and the man’s kind heart, so he decided to have his daughter marry the young man.
The young man had become a millionaire from a straw as he was told by the Goddess of Mercy. He never failed to take care of even a singe straw for the rest of life. This is how he came to be called the “Warashibe Choja” (“A Straw Millionaire”) by the villagers.