‘I Am Jang Keun Suk’ Proves Jang is at the Center of Hallyu
Jang Keun Suk literally took over Japan in 2011. At his every word, his Japanese fans screamed in delight, and even a small touch was enough to melt them into tears.
KBS2’s Jang Keun Suk documentary, The Center of Hallyu, I Am Jang Keun Suk, aired on January 1. The broadcast delivered a clear answer to those who had even for once doubted that the Korean wave, and Jang Keun Suk, was popular in Japan. The answers showed just how Jang became so popular, and the road he walked before he came to reign as the Prince of Asia.
The Jang Keun Suk special was completely different from the Kim Tae Hee special which aired in 2011, The Rediscovery of Tae Hee. They were both specials that covered stars popular both in Korea and overseas, but the method they used to approach the stars’ stories and their intentions were far from similar.
I Am Jang Keun Suk was timely. The Korean wave flowed strong in 2011, and washed over Japan to touch the shores of Europe and South America. In a period when many stars express their determination to concentrate on making it big overseas, the documentary pointed toward the direction the Korean wave should go in the future.
Japanese journalists said in the broadcast, “The reason why Jang Keun Suk became known through the drama You’re Beautiful and could gain the popularity he’s enjoying now is because he put together a character that the Japanese would like.”
Jang threw away his consciousness as a star and didn’t hesitate to blend himself into Japanese culture, showing off a boldness that would let him dance on the streets, an individuality that had no specific direction, and a kindness that let him embrace his fans, which made him the biggest star of the Korean wave.
I Am Jang Keun Suk was also not a broadcast that only tried to make issues with provocative content. It wasn’t simply a window through which viewers could indirectly see a mysterious star at work, so rather than give Jang time to deny the plastic surgery rumors or love scandals that surrounded him, it just portrayed a Jang that didn’t care about those issues at all.
The only personal parts of his life that were revealed through the broadcast were the things he had lost before, and those that he held dear to him even after, becoming the Prince of Asia. It was a chance to see who Jang Keun Suk truly was.
More than anything, the documentary was sincere. It proved that Jang’s popularity wouldn’t be short-lived. The energy behind his three hour long sold out Tokyo Dome concert came from his endless practice and the sweat he poured with it. He didn’t become the hallyu king only because You’re Beautiful became popular.
Viewers could see from an objective viewpoint the background that helped Jang won a string of successes in Japan as Geun-chan. The biggest strength of I Am Jang Keun Suk was that it didn’t just train a spotlight on the outside of the star and wrap him in faux candidness.
Jang’s sweat and passion were emphasized. The documentary also touched on the obstacles he would have to overcome to match his popularity in Korea with that in Japan, and Jang was aware of this difference. Because he’s a smart actor, he’s still expected to continue shaking up Japan as the ‘King of the Korean Wave’.
Photo credit: KBS2