Posted : 2014-03-02 17:49
Updated : 2014-03-02 17:49

'My Love' sparks hallyu sensation

"My Love From the Star," starring hallyu heartthrob Kim Soo-hyun, left, and Jun Ji-hyun, has gained popularity in Korea and China.
/ Courtesy of SBS

Drama fever spills over fashion, food

By Chung Ah-young

In December, the SBS television drama series "My Love From the Star" got off to a shaky start amid a heated controversy over plagiarism, as it adopted a concept similar to the comic book series "Seol Hee." But the drama ended up creating a huge hallyu sensation not only in Korea, but in China as well.

When the last episode of "My Love" was aired on Feb. 27, some Chinese fans watched it at the Sheshan Observatory in Shanghai, China, eating chicken and drinking beer.

The observatory was a special venue for the grand finale of the drama organized by IQIYI, China's online television and movie portal site, responding to the soaring popularity there as the drama frequently has with constellation and astrological backgrounds.

"My Love from the Star" has created a "chimaek" (eating chicken and drinking beer) craze in China. / Korea Times file

"My Love" has created a ripple effect in the Korean drama scene, which has seen fewer dramas gaining wide support after "Winter Sonata" and "Jewel in the Palace."

In a recent survey by Gallup Korea, the series was ranked as the favorite TV show for Koreans, followed by "Infinite Challenge," a variety show which had long topped the rankings.

The drama is based on the historical Gwanghae Journal from the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) which records a mysterious UFO appearing in Gangwon Province. The series features an "alien" who appears as a human named Do Min-joon _ played by Kim Soo-hyun. He doesn't get old and has been living in Korea for the past 400 years. Do lives in modern Korea and falls in love with a famous actress named Chun Song-i ― played by Jun Ji-hyun. The romantic chemistry between Do and Chun is mainly responsible for the drama's spiking popularity.

Kim is one of the most sought-after actors as every drama or film in which he stars is a success. He became a household name in 2011 in the teen drama "Dream High," and rose to stardom in MBC's popular epic drama "The Moon That Embraces the Sun" in 2012. He has also starred on the big screen in the films "The Thieves" and "Secretly, Greatly."

In this drama, his versatile character performance shifting in time and space appeals to female audiences. Also, supporting roles played by Shin Sung-rok and Park Hae-jin have added a unique flavor to the series.

Jun has earned high praise for her portrayal of Chun, which is similar to her previous successful role in the romantic comedy film "My Sassy Girl."

In the drama, everything she wears and eats has been in vogue. Yves-Saint Laurent's No.52 lipstick sold out in major department stores. The craze goes beyond lipsticks. Fashion brand ShesMiss has seen a steep sales surge because Jun wore a winter coat from the brand in a recent episode.

ShesMiss said that after the drama was aired, all 2,500 of the coats in stock at its stores nationwide sold out in just 10 days.

A China's entertainment newspaper recently featured Jun in a six-page article about
the recent drama craze there.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Korean TV series have long been popular in China, and "My Love" is one of the most-discussed topics on Sina's Weibo microblogging platform and it has created a "chimaek" (eating chicken and drinking beer) craze in China

The newspaper said that more than 3.7 million posts related to the Chinese term for chimaek have appeared.

According to the newspaper, even some Chinese celebrities are fans of the show, fueling the craze.

Tourist packages targeting Chinese fans have been launched. Sinsegye Tour has been offering tourist programs connected to the drama since April. The tour includes stops in Seoul and Gangwon Province where the drama is filmed. "After the drama began airing, an increasing number of Chinese fans have asked to see the drama film sets. So our package will satisfy them," an official of the company said.

Seoul Tower's top-floor restaurant has seen large numbers of tourists because that is where Kim and Jun had dinner together on the show.

Petit France, a French cultural village in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province, also became a tourist hot spot since the characters kissed there in the 15th episode.

The program's unprecedented success is attributed in part to its online distribution in China, as it has immediately gone viral. The drama has hit more than 600 million views on IQIYI, China's video site.

"Chinese fans don't have to wait to watch Korean dramas until they are formally broadcast through TV stations because they can see them via the Internet. It's immediate and fast, thus helping them gain fast popularity," a drama critic said.

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