July 27, 2015
SEOUL (AFP) - Scores of middle-aged Japanese women converged on a major Seoul hotel Monday, hoping for a glimpse of their favourite South Korean TV drama star on his wedding day.
Actor Bae Yong-Joon, now 42, gained a fervent Japanese fan base in the early 2000s when he starred in the soap opera "Winter Sonata" -- a show widely credited with helping launch the Hallyu, or "Korean Wave," of K-pop and K-drama that swept much of Asia.
Bae was expected to tie the knot with TV personality Park Soo-Jin at the Sheraton Hotel in Seoul on Monday evening.
The event was private but that did not stop busloads of Japanese fans arriving at dawn to claim a prime vantage point inside the sprawling hotel complex.
Yukari Ando, a 39-year-old housewife from Nagoya, was one of nearly 100 Japanese fans in the crowd.
"I have been a fan of Yon-sama for 12 years," she told AFP, using Bae's honorific nickname in Japan.
Ando said she had flown to Seoul with her three daughters, including one who grew up "kissing Bae's face on the screen" when his show was on TV.
Friends Mieko Watanabe and Suga Yumiko, aged 60 and 58, respectively, flew in from Tokyo.
"It's a big day for us," Suga said, protecting herself from the light drizzle with an umbrella emblazoned with Bae's portrait.
Bae further endeared himself to his Japanese public by donating $900,000 to relief efforts following the 2011 tsunami disaster.