Thank you makishi-ssi for the VOD on QUILT!
Four years ago on this day Nov.12.
MC Kotaro Koizumi (who is btw, ex-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi’s son): First of all, please look at this photo.
Main MC Monta Mino: It’s Yon-sama.
(video of WLS, newspaper clippings etc.)
Narrator: Last month, BYJ was awarded Korea’s Order of Cultural Merit, and also appointed promotional ambassador.
YJ: I feel a great responsibility in my new position, but I will do my best to promote the beauty of Korea and its cuisine.
N: More than 500 fans from Japan flew to Korea to get a glimpse of him at the award ceremony. It was 4 years ago that BYJ started an unprecedented boom.
(video of his arrival at Haneda Airport)
On his first visit to Japan, many as 5000 fans flocked to the airport to see him. That was the greatest number of people ever to gather at the airport to greet one man. Fans called him “Yon-sama” and this boom became a kind of social phenomena.
In the midst of this, a sensational announcement was made. In his first photo collection, he was to reveal himself in a totally different image from what he was known for. It was on this day November 12 2004 that advanced orders for this book were accepted in Korea and Japan simultaneously.
What is it that he captures the hearts of Japanese women so?
BYJ debuted as an actor at the age of 22. He started out in this world after participating in an audition with a friend.
(video of “Love Greetings”)
From his very first drama, he was cast in the leading role. Even here, he can be seen wearing eye glasses which have now become his trademark.
His 1996 drama “First Love” marked the highest viewing rate in Korean drama history of 65.8 percent. BYJ had become a great star in Korea only after 2 years from his debut.
BYJ appeared on Japanese TV in April of 2003, in a drama depicting pure love, “WLS”.
(video of WLS, brief explanation of story.)
In this drama BYJ portrayed a role of an elegant and a gentle man.
The drama was received with unexpected enthusiasm, and many Japanese women came to love him.
Ad copy writer Junko Matsuyama is one of these women who fell for the drama and even wrote a book analyzing BYJ. She comments:
“It was a sensation I had not experienced in a long time. First, my mother had borrowed the DVD, and that was really something. She lost 7 kg, and her complexion was glowing. It may sound strange, but I think she regained her hormone balance – by knowing BYJ she was restored as a woman (flowerbossa: she used a funny phrase “like the tap was opened again.")
The women who fell in love with him started calling him “smiling prince Yon-sama”, and purchased BYJ related merchandise which came out one after another.
Reporter: So this is a Yon-sama cup.
R: Is it alright for you to drink from it?
F: Oh, isn’t it awful of me~?
From their urge to be near to him as possible, many even went over to Korea, and Fuyusona (WLS) tours became the rage.
F: Oh this is so wonderful, it’s like a dream.
And finally on 2004.4.3, Yon-sama planned his first visit to Japan. Women outnumbering fans who would go to greet a Hollywood star flocked to the airport to see him, and waited breathless for his appearance at the gate.
Mr. Takemura, a reporter who covered this event for Nikkan Sports recalls, “There was nothing like it. Some people waited all night in order to see him. It may be alright for a young girl, but an all-nighter for a 60 year old woman can be pretty tough.
BYJ was actually not feeling well that day, but hearing that fans were waiting for him from the day before, with the help of IV, he landed in Japan in spite of his condition.
And THE moment….
(video of chaos…. Fans: “where? where is he?”
Yon-sama, though overwhelmed by the fervor, showed his brightest smile.)
(photos courtesy of Japanese sister tomochang )
For the fan gathering scheduled on the following day, 60,000 people applied for the 2000 tickets which were sold. Despite the pouring rain, fans that were not able to obtain tickets flocked to the site anyway, and even waited at the back entrance.
In his first words towards his fans, he told them (in Japanese), “I really wanted to see you. In this moment, I am filled with happiness.”
This was not the only expression of his sincere feelings towards his fans… Later in the meeting, he called out to the lighting staff,
“Could you turn on the lights in the audience so I can see everyone’s face?”
The fans were moved all the more for his feelings towards them.
In an interview (2004.11) he claimed:
“I enjoy being with my family. Meeting them one by one, shaking hands while looking into their eyes, exchanging greetings… I want to talk about personal things too, but I am really sorry that I don’t have the time for it.”
For Yon-sama, his fans are his family.
Takemura-san: BYJ who calls his fans family, realizes that he owes it to his fans that support him to be in his present position. It is perhaps an attitude that Japanese celebrities have forgotten, and accepted as something fresh by the Japanese people.
His popularity which knew no limits, even led him to appear in commercials where he flashed his signature smile.
(video of CF – Oronamin C)
Yon-sama with his fresh appeal…
But in October, a sensational announcement was made.
In his first collection of photos, he was to reveal his muscular figure.
“Unlike ordinary photo books with photos of me in my usual style, I wanted to take on a challenge in a new genre as an actor creating a new kind of work, creating a new image of myself."
Commemorating his 10th anniversary since his debut, he wanted to show himself in a new image to his fans, freeing himself from the image in WLS.
To achieve this goal, he went through an excruciating training program to change his physique.
The general producer of the project Lee Dong Hoon explains " because we had only 3 months to complete the collection, he worked to build his body through various ways including a strict diet -he restricted his intake of salt, ate fillet and tomato in the evenings. He claimed that without making such efforts, it was meaningless to present a photo book to his fans."
BYJ: Because I didn't take any salt and sugar, I had sleep disorders and experienced nights when I could not sleep at all.
N: Through such efforts, the collection was completed.
The product of a strict diet and a 4 hour daily training program was a fabulous physique with only 3 percent body fat.
And exactly 4 years ago on Nov.12, 2004 from 12 a.m., advance orders on the internet was accepted both in Japan and Korea. Fans tried to access the site immediately after the designated time, and due to an overload of access 40 times more than the usual amount, the server went down temporarily.
The book which cost 14,700 yen per copy was so popular that only after 5 days, the first edition of 50,000 copies were sold out, marking a sales of 735 million yen.
What is it about BYJ that captures that hearts of women so?
Takemura-san: It's about the diversity of his style. This star BYJ possesses many dimensions and his fans accepted this. N: In a Korean restaurant called "Madan" in Shinjuku (Shin Okubo), there is a room where the walls are decorated with photos of BYJ. Women who are enchanted by him visit this room daily.
(photos from the site "Ni-Korea)
76 year old fan: Just when my life attained some peace, BYJ appeared. He gives my life purpose, and I am enjoying it. I would like to live at least 10 more years.
74 year old fan: Obviously he looks wonderful, but now days I support him for his attitude towards life. (applause)
N: BYJ - this man brought excitement to the hearts of Japanese women. He shall continue to make them shine, by always showing himself in new ways.