Monday, November 19, 2007

Seo Tai-ji Fans Celebrate His 15 Years in Showbiz

“It cheers me up to see you again, my idol Seo Tai-ji. I feel I can start again thanks to you. You greatly influenced my life when I was a teenager.”

“Dear Tai-ji. I come here again. I wish I could live here. I really miss you.”

Fans of Seo Tai-ji, the legendary Korean pop idol, left messages to him at the SEO TAI JI 15th Anniversary Zone at COEX mall in Samseong-dong, Seoul. It opened on Nov. 3 to commemorate, as the name suggests, the 15th anniversary of his debut. Seotaiji Company, the entertainment firm the singer set up, says the number of visitors topped 40,000 as of late last week, prompting the exhibition to be extended by six days to Nov. 18. Seo, who earned his nickname “Culture president” with his groundbreaking music in 1990s, has come back center stage.

A photo of Seo Tai-ji exhibited at the “SEO TAI JI 15th Anniversary Zone,” a memorial to commemorate the 15th anniversary of his debut, in COEX mall in Samseong dong, Seoul.

The culture president’s album released to commemorate the 15th anniversary of his debut sold out right after starting pre-sales at midnight on Nov. 3. A total of 15,000 copies were sold out in one minute online. Yedang Entertainment, which is in charge of sales, says the response was explosive. In offline stores, people were queuing to buy the anniversary album. “It’s quite new to today’s lackluster music industry.” Copies of Seo’s new album also sold out at offline stores too.
A photo of Seo Tai-ji when he was a bassist of rock group Sinawi.

The release includes four albums of Seotaiji and Boys and three solo albums. It costs a cool W97,000 (US$1=W917). That means the album recorded sales equivalent to that of 150,000 copies of an ordinary album costing W10,000 in an instant. (This year’s bestseller is expected to be SG Wannabe with 200,000 copies.) The producers considered putting out additional copies but decided to keep sales limited.

An endless line of admirers in their 20s and 30s visit the site. Photos of Seo’s childhood and his past before becoming a star, clothes he wore, movie clips, and various instruments he used are on show here. Na Jeong-ae, a 28-year-old office worker, says, “I bought his new album in advance. I am excited to meet Seo Tai-ji again with his new album. He feels like my friend, my life and sometimes my god.” And student Park Jae-seok (25) says, “Seo Tai-ji has been my role model because he always challenges new goals.”

A photo of Seo Tai-ji (at left, with glasses) and other members of rock band Sky Wall that Seo joined at the age of 14./Seotaiji Company.

On the bulletin board of Seo’s official website (www.seotaiji.com), 5,000 welcome messages have been posted in less than a week to greet his new album’s release. Pop critic Kim Jak-ga said, “Seo in the 1990s was not just a star but a political and social spokesman for the young generation. That’s why so many fans are filled with pride and community spirit in welcoming Seo back.”

(englishnews@chosun.com )

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