6 November, 2006
I am writing to nominate South Korean mega-star Bae Yong-Joon as the Sexiest Man Alive for your upcoming special issue of People Magazine.
Why would People magazine select Bae Yong-Joon, a virtual unknown in its prime markets, as the Sexiest Man Alive? Because this could be your most successful issue to-date as a result of massive orders from overseas, especially Japan and China, but also several other countries where your magazine may not have quite the market shares you would like. The passion that exists for this actor is so high that many women would buy multiple copies to give to others right away and also to give future fans, which are sure to come along. The popularity of this hugely successful actor is still rising and likely to reach new heights when the serialized historical drama in which he’ll be starring, The Legend, starts broadcasting in 90 countries next spring (promo picture shown below). I would certainly buy ten copies or more myself.
Why should Bae Yong-Joon be chosen? I have included only a few pictures as I know that others have already sent you several. I would like, rather, to attempt to describe the level of passion Mr. Bae elicits in several million women around the world, including the U.S and the rest of North America, South America, and Europe. This passion is so astonishing that it drives smart, busy, and normally level-headed women from all nationalities, all ages, and all walks of life to find time to keep up with every report of BYJ’s public appearances, and network on the internet like they have never done before. Many have taken the unusual step of traveling, sometimes half-way around the world, to experience first-hand his phenomenal masculine magnetism. According to all the reports I have read, and however breath-taking they may be, pictures of this man fail to fully convey how attractive he is compared to seeing him on the screen. In turn, no matter how gorgeous he appears on-screen, he is several times more so in person! This masculine magnetism is accompanied by an exceptionally gentle and caring attitude towards everyone whose lives he touches, and very sincere humility about his own abilities, an area he constantly strives to improve. Despite the severe limits fame has put on his ability to enjoy everyday life, Mr. Bae refers to his fans as “Family”’ and treats them (us) with the deep respect and appreciation this term implies, especially in his native Korea. This may sound trite and manipulative, but he has shown, repeatedly, that he is utterly and absolutely sincere in this.
Who is Bae Yong-Joon? Born in 1972 in Seoul, South Korea, BYJ has been in the public eyes for the past 12 years as an actor. South Korean television networks have developed a strong tradition of producing high-quality serialized dramas and Mr. Bae has appeared in ten of these. In 1996-97 he was the second leading man in First Love, a 66-episode series that still holds the record as the most successful in Korean television history, garnering viewerships of 50% (!) or more for 50 episodes, and an astonishing 65.8% for the final one! At that time, BYJ was dubbed the James Dean of Korea and won several acting awards along with the hearts of just about every woman in his native country (see picture below on motorcycle).
Of particular note to audiences outside Korea, in Hotelier (2001), he played a Harvard-trained mergers and acquisitions specialist who discovers that his life is missing a very important facet: love and compassion. The first few episodes of this uniformly excellent 20-hour drama were filmed in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, while the rest was made in Seoul (the picture below was taken behind the scenes while making Hotelier).
His most recent serialized drama was Winter Sonata (2001-02), also known as Winter Love Song. This exquisitely shot series continues to be exceptionally successful wherever it is shown and is always cited as one of a handful of entertainment products that have sparked the phenomenon known as hallyu, the Korean cultural wave that is sweeping Asia and making its way through the rest of the world. It is a very pure love story – daringly so, in fact – and Mr. Bae’s portrayal of the main character is so mesmerizing that it melts every heart and conquers even those who find the plot too melodramatic for our time and culture. His hundred thousand watt smile is burned in every viewer’s memory and will be remembered until the end of our days, as will the underlying sensuality he projected, heightened all the more by the pure nature of the story (see next three pictures).
This series was followed by two films. Untold Scandal (2003) was an adaptation of French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, in which BYJ played the same role as John Malkovitch in another recent adaptation, Dangerous Liaisons. This R-rated movie role was in complete contrast to the character Mr. Bae played in Winter Sonata and gave the world a chance to appreciate this actor’s amazing range, along with seeing the equally amazing buff body that hid behind the bulky winter clothes worn in his previous screen appearance.
More recently, BYJ starred in April Snow (2005), a movie about the love that develops between a married man and woman who would not normally have met but for somewhat unusual circumstances. It was shown at several film festivals in the western hemisphere and received very high praise for the innovative way in which it treated this otherwise familiar story line. Notably, and as a result of this praise, it was shown continuously in cinemas in Paris and elsewhere in France for five months between April and September of this year, and a further month in the French provinces. In addition, a Director’s Cut version was released in early September 2006 and, exceptionally for this type of re-release, was shown in theaters in Japan for over a month, with the equally exceptional measure of showings starting in the morning as early as 7:30 a.m.!
Why does Yong-Joon make women swoon? This tall, bespectacled, thirty-four year old single man embodies with equal strength the two terms in the word “gentleman”. He is indeed gentle, sweet, polite, caring, generous, and sensitive, all the while being extremely masculine, sensual, and devastatingly attractive to women. His charisma is so strong some use the word ‘aura” to describe how delightful he is to both men and women (and horses – see below) who meet him in person. In addition, his expressive voice is so very pleasant to hear that, even when his dramas and movies are available with dubs in some of the Asian languages, most women prefer to listen to the original Korean and rely on subtitles just to enjoy it, not to mention to fully appreciate the way his sensual lips wrap around each syllable, however incomprehensible. The next two pictures are from Mr. Bae’s horseback riding training in preparation for The Legend.
Where can you get more information about Bae Yong Joon? Here is a small sampling of useful websites:
http://www.baeyongjune.com/, also known as BYJ Quilt; note that this site is experiencing server problems at the time of writing.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bae_Yong_Joon (beware, as this seems to contain several errors and has raised a controversy about a contributor with less than honorable motives).
http://toujours-byj.blogspot.com/ contains numerous excellent English translations of reviews of April Snow, as seen by the French media and French viewers; look between April 12 and October 12, in particular.
http://www.happiebb.blogspot.com/: see, especially, the right side-bar for links to 16 superbly researched and illustrated retrospective posts where “bb follows YJ’s trail”; see also http://happiebb.blogspot.com/2006/06/those-lips-be-still-my-heart.html a post entitled “those lips , be still my heart” showcasing what several woman think about Mr. Bae’s very sensuous lips.
Who is the writer of this letter? I am a French-Canadian woman born in Montréal but living in English in Toronto for the past 25 years. I am skeptical by nature and work full-time as an information analyst. Korean movies and serialized drama were brought to my attention by friends and relatives less than a year ago. I count myself as a member of Mr. Bae’s fan Family.
With very many thanks and best regards,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada