SEOUL, June 3 (Korea Bizwire) – It has been years since the so-called Korean Wave swept the world. These days it is not so hard to find fans in Korea or any place in the world cheer passionately for a Korean idol star.
Sometimes the lengths the fans go to in expressing their love for the star are simply excessive. For example, some of the fans engage in almost stalking-like behavior that infringe on the entertainer’s private life. Some others gave even expensive gifts such as luxury brand bags or wristwatches to the stars who then publicly declined the inappropriate presents.
But not all fans are like that. Some of them collect money and use it to create a small patch of forest under the name of the entertainer they worship. For example, the fans of Yoona, a member of nine-member group Girls’ Generation, announced on May 30 that they had collected more than 10 million won for about one month of a campaign across 18 countries including China, the United States, and Denmark, as well as Korea and use the money to plant trees in an abandoned site near the Seoul World Cup Stadium where there used to be a railroad depot.
Once the trees are planted in this area, the whole neighborhood will benefit as the trees would reduce the noise from the passing trains.
The fans of other singers and actors are also actively seeking to create forests dedicated to the entertainers of their choice. Last year alone, forests under the names of Roy Kim (singer), Girls’ Generation, Infinite (boy band), TVXQ (boy group), Super Junior (boy pop group), and SHINee (R&B boy group) were dedicated.
This year to date, about 20 such forest projects have been completed or under way, including those for Ha Jeong-woo (actor), Rain (singer/actor), Hyolee (singer), Block B (boy group), EXO (Korean-Chinese boy band), and B1A4 (boy idol group).
In most cases, these tree donations are in commemoration of the star’s birthday, the day of debut, or new album publication. This is unusual given the culture of giving under the name of a celebrity has never taken roots anywhere else in the world. Sometimes the campaigns are led by corporations as part of promotional effort.
For example, the “Forest of Wind” in Seoul Grand Park, located in Gwacheon in the southern suburb of Seoul, is created by Samsung Electronics jointly with the fans of Kim Yuna, the “Queen on Ice,” as part of a promotional campaign for the Smart Air-conditioners.
Broken ground in August 2013, the forest is currently under construction. The queen herself was there to attach her name plate on the groundbreaking ceremony.
Behind the movement to plant trees under names of celebrities, there is a social enterprise “Tree Planet.” The company encourages individuals and companies to use tree-planting activities in their star supporting or product advertising.
As of April 2014, the company said as many as 700,000 users have planted trees using its smartphone app that allows the user to water and care for a virtual tree and then sponsoring advertisers plant “real” trees proportional to the number of trees grown in the virtual space.
Written by Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)
contributed by Sean Chung (email@example.com)