Korea Herald correspondent
OSAKA, Japan - It took about 50 minutes for the first performer to appear on stage at this charity concert titled "Hallyu Festival in Osaka," but Japanese fans of Korean pop culture never got bored while waiting.
More than 20,000 devoted fans of Korean pop and film stars packed the Osaka Dome, home to the Orix Buffaloes baseball team, on Tuesday night to see the fund-raising concert hosted by the International Vaccine Institute to help children suffering from infectious diseases. The institute is a Seoul-based organization dedicated to improving human health through research on preventive medicine.
The concert, which was preceded by a program to promote the institute and its activities, turned out to be a huge success thanks to the amazing popularity of the all-star lineup of Hallyu stars.
<**1>Jun Jin, a member of the popular six-man group Shinhwa, broke the ice with songs from his first solo album released in November, including "Love Never Comes Easy (Sarangi Ojianayo)."
"It`s so pleasant to come back to Osaka a year after my last visit," Jun said.
Almost every time the Shinhwa man said something on the stage, he ended it by whispering "aishiteru ("I love you" in Japanese)," which made his already loyal Japanese fans love him more.
After Jun`s performance, Kangta, a former member of the now-defunct boyband, H.O.T., was onstage to present his trademark voice through a rendition of Richard Marx`s "Now and Forever" as well as his past hits. He was followed by the showcase of Meilin, a young Korean female singer who dreams of being the "next BoA" in Japan, with her debut album, "Save My Soul" scheduled to come out next month.
Top R&B Trio SG Wanna Be stole the show with their loud-yet-sensitive vocal delivery, while Lee Min-woo (also known as M), another Shinhwa member, fascinated the audience with his energetic dance movements and charismatic stage presence. The biggest star of the concert, however, was not a singer.
By simply waving his right hand and smiling on the stage, actor Song Seung-hun made his Japanese fans go wild. It seemed like the whole concert was his, although he did nothing but stand still and say a few very formal, polite remarks for his fans and the IVI, the host of the event.
"Every time I think about my fans in Japan, I feel grateful for the steadfast love you have showed me even when I served my military duty for more than two years," said the star best known for his nice guy roles in such hit soap operas as "Summer Scent" and "Law Firm."
What the concert confirmed was the continuing popularity of the Korean entertainers in Japan. It proved again that fielding "Hallyu stars" is the surest way to guarantee success of charity and other promotional events in Asia.
But perhaps a more efficient way of conducting "Hallyu star promotion" is that the stars do what they can do best and are not asked to play too much of promotional role during such events.
"I thought I could see more of Song Seung-hun," said Yoshida Yukari, a 35-year-old Japanese woman. Her Korean friend, who wanted to remain anonymous, said it would have been better to hear something more personal from Song.
By Lee Yong-sung