It’s been a change of guards from “YonSama” Bae Yong Joon, Jang Dong Gun, Lee Byung Hun, Ryu Shi Won, Song Seung Hun, and Choi Ji Woo to Lee Min Ho, Kim Soo Hyun, Park Shin Hye, and Kim Woo Bin. Not only are the faces of Hallyu different, but today’s Hallyu stars have much more on their plate when it comes to riding the Hallyu wave. Of course, this is not a bad thing. The international promotion of K-Drama stars has brought opportunities for actors and actresses to “tour” the Asian countries and meet the fans. After his explosion into popularity in “City Hunter,” Lee Min Ho toured six cities over 3 months and met more than 60,000 fans worldwide. He is planning on another tour for his role in “The Heirs”.
“My Love from the Star” actor Kim Soo Hyun is embarking on a multi-destination tour spanning Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Japan. Park Shin Hye toured China, Japan, Thailand, and Philippines for a world tour prior to filming for “The Heirs”. Bae Yong Joon and Ryu Shi Won had a few tours, but nothing of this scale was ever done by the first generation Hallyu stars.
One foreign relations specialist commented on the current wave of Hallyu stars, saying, “It’s a lot different from 10 years ago. Media outlets are different, and of course the media platforms are different as well. Many are on social networking sites. Many fans study the Korean culture and understand Koreans better than ever before. That is why many current stars are able to go on these tours.” He added,”This also coincides with the fact that China and Pacific West are continually becoming profitable and improving their economy.
That improved contractual negotiations between the stars and each country’s management or event producing companies. Transportation, scheduling, and even drinking water is all negotiated in contract and acted upon with unprecedented professionalism. Kim Soo Hyun was transported with a private jet to China to film an ad during one of the busiest time periods of his life.”
He also commented on the first generation Hallyu stars, saying, “The current crop of stars must thank their Hallyu predecessors. The first generation Hallyu stars suffered everything from having bad water to not having a place to stay at the hotel because of shoddy event promotions. They have quite literally paved a way for today’s stars to take flight. The environment was changed thanks to superstars such as BoA and Bae Yong Jun.” Hallyu stars are also paying more attentions to their fans.
For example, Lee Min Ho’s management company Starhaus fits Lee Min Ho with clothes that the people of the country favor. For instance, he wears red in China and pink in Thailand. Not only that, but during the duration of his event concert, Lee Min Ho changes his clothes 4-5 times as a fan service. He also attempts to speak to different country’s fans with different languages.
Salt Entertainment, which manages Park Shin Hye, explained that each concert is different from each other because they are catered to each country’s culture. For instance, Park Shin Hye cooked with her fans in China, while in Thailand they exchanged video messages.
These event concerts are evolving into real concerts as well. In an effort to leave a strong impression on the fans, Hallyu stars are now taking to singing on stage. Lee Min Ho released an album last year, most of which he performs on these tours. Park Shin Hye also sings 3-4 songs from the OSTs of the dramas that she acted in. Kim Soo Hyun is also expected to sing 3 or 4 songs in his upcoming tour.
The biggest difference maker for the new wave Hallyu stars is the utilization of the social networking systems. Although Bae Yong Joon pays attention and takes care of his social network sites, Choi Ji Woo and others have been slow to adapt.
Lee Min Ho is very keen at taking care of his social networking sites, including Weibo, Facebook, and Me2day. He has almost 20 million followers on Weibo. Kim Woo Bin has a million Weibo followers, while Jang Keun Suk has 10 million fans on Weibo. Park Shin Hye has over 6 million Weibo followers. Weibo accounts are important in gauging the popularity of Hallyu stars because China outlaws most other social networks. Weibo is the only one allowed by the Chinese government, so it gives a direct correlation to the star and their popularity in China.
Every one of these stars reaches out to their fans via video on their social network sites. Subtitles are added for up to four languages. Social networking is regarded as important as the actual tour of the starts because it allows the start to commnicate directly with their foreign fans.