TV dramas produced in Korea have gained wide appeal in many Asian countries in recent years.
Now, a local government in the country's southeast is hoping to benefit from the popularity of Korean TV dramas by hosting a festival dedicated to the programs and the stars.
Our Lee Jeewon reports from the Korea Drama Festival in Jinju.
Korean soap dramas took Asia by storm during the past decade.
They gave birth to the Korean Wave, the surge in demand for Korean pop culture including movies and music.
And last February, nine municipal assemblymen from the city of Jinju in South Gyeongsang Province launched the Korea Drama Festival.
The second annual event is taking place in the city until Sunday.
''Experts on the entertainment industry and some 40 celebrities are here in Gyeongsang Province for the 2007 Korea Drama Festival. Most of them have come from other parts of the country or even abroad to take part in the event.''
People lined up hours prior to the opening ceremony on Wednesday to get a glimpse of their favorite stars.
Some like these two Japanese women have flown all the way to Korea after participating in an on-line poll of favorite Korean soap dramas, conducted by Arirang TV.
''This ancient city of Jinju is ready to explode with its passion!''
Many actors and producers have been awarded during the two-hour event.
Asian voters chose a show called ''Super Rookie,’’ about a newly-employed salaryman as their choice of soaps from the latter half of last year to early this year.
While the usually mellow city of Jinju strikes many Koreans as an unusual place to have a star-studded event, a member of the organizing committee thinks otherwise.
''Many people ask me, 'Why Jinju?' and I always ask back, ''Why not Jinju?'' Korean soap dramas haven't originated from one particular region, which means any city is free to celebrate its success. Jinju city can become a mecca of soap dramas just like Cannes became that for movies.''
The event took a giant leap from last year, garnering more than a billion won or roughly one million U.S. dollars of government aid.
Its range of programs and subsidiary facilities widened to include photo exhibitions and concerts.
It also held a forum to discuss ways to improve cooperation among soap drama producers in the region.
''Industry insiders from several Asian countries participated at today's international forum. I believe there is great potential in the soap drama industry in terms of commercial success.''
The aim of the event is to become the most renowned entertainment festival in Asia by 2010.
Organizers are optimistic it can reach that goal as the world's only festival dedicated to soap operas.
Lee Jeewon, Arirang News, Jinju.