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[Asian Games] S. Korean celebs wow audience with dramatic Asiad opening

Popular South Korean celebrities shined over the opening ceremony of the 2014 Asian Games on Friday, as they appeared in short succession and kept the spectators glued to their seats.

   Minutes before the start of the pan-continental sports festival, South Korean boy band EXO entered the stage amid a boisterous crowd. Dedicated fans packed one side of the stadium and screamed as the group performed its 2013 hits "Wolf" and "Growl."    


South Korean celebs, including actor Kim Soo-hyun (second from left) and actor Jang Dong-gun (right), join the opening ceremony of the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon on Friday. (Yonhap)
South Korean celebs, including actor Kim Soo-hyun (second from left) and actor Jang Dong-gun (right), join the opening ceremony of the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon on Friday. (Yonhap)

In Part One of the opening ceremony, actor Jang Dong-gun walked on stage to pick up a hoop that slipped out of a girl's hand. He reappeared later in the ceremony with more South Korean celebrities.

   In Part Two, opera singer Jo Sumi picked up where Jang had left off with a stirring performance of "The Song of Asiad," a musical rendition of a poem written by renowned poet Ko Un, and "Arirang," a popular Korean folk song.

 A video featuring actor Kim Soo-hyun, who has huge followings in China, was screened next. The "My Love from the Star" actor was seen on a boat next to the girl holding the hoop. Dozens of other passengers, dressed in traditional costumes of the Asiad participating countries, joined them.

   Kim then materialized before a blissful mass, and Jang joined him as they conveyed a message of hope to bring the continent together.

   Ock Joo-hyun, a South Korean idol-turned-musical actress, put on a musical act. And actor Hyun Bin carried the South Korean flag on stage amidst a raucous audience in Part Three.

   But director Im Kwon-taek, the chief organizer of the ceremony, knew how to save the best for last.

   K-pop group JYJ jumped on stage with the official Asiad song, "Only One," as South Korean star athletes, one by one, delivered the Asiad torch to Lee Young-ae, a South Korean actress widely popular all over the continent.       

   The "Daejanggeum" star had been hiding behind the crowd until a spotlight brought her to attention. The stadium boiled to a frenzy when she lit the cauldron, which marked the highlight of the night.

   The crown jewel of the three-hour event, however, was none other than South Korean rapper Psy, who rose to global stardom in 2012 with the mega-hit single "Gangnam Style." Dressed to the

nines, Psy gave a funky re-make of "Champion," one of his early favorites, alongside Chinese pianist Lang Lang. He capped off the show with "Gangnam Style," which in May became the first video on YouTube to surpass 2 billion views.

   Im and fellow director Jang Jin delivered a stellar show, which cost just a fraction of what was needed to stage the epic ceremony that opened the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

   The 2014 Asian Games will run for 16 days and see around 10,000 athletes in 36 sports compete for 439 gold medals. (Yonhap)

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