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Korean superstars play Rye theatre

By Vanessa Grant and Joanna Evans

Big celebrities, screaming fans and music invaded Toronto Thursday night, but not just for the Much Music Video Awards.

Uhm Jung Hwa and Kim Min Jong, two of South Korea’s most popular performers, entertained and thrilled about 300 or Toronto’s Asian youth and some adults in the Ryerson Theatre last week.

An hour and a half before the show was scheduled to start, anxious fans lined up outside the Gerrard Street entrance in hopes of getting the best seats in the house.

The show began 45 minutes late, at about 8:15 p.m., after a short introduction by concert organizers. The curtains were drawn and the spunky Hwa was sprung onstage by her dancers. She was wearing a bright turquoise ensemble and her dancers were in black. The crowd went wild, as if they were at a Britney Spears concert.

Hwa performed several upbeat pop songs accompanied by choreographed dancing before pausing or an interactive session with the audience. She made jokes, answered questions and spoke openly with her fans. The star was even a little cheeky, slapping her bum for laughs. She also performed one of her songs a capella. Throughout the concert, fans danced and sang along to their favourite songs. Many of them had special light wands that made heart shapes when waved back and forth. Other fans used lighters to show their appreciation of the music.

The girls in the audience squealed “I love you” in Korean as Kim Min Jong, th Korean equivalent of Ricky Martin, appeared on stage. Dressed in a black jacket, black pants and dark sunglasses, Jong serenaded the crowd with a slow ballad. Frank Paik, an usher, said Jong’s romantic voice is what most captures the interest of many young women.

Jong’s performance was dramatic and his songs were slow and soulful. He used his hands and arms to convey the emotions of his songs. When fans crowded the stage, he bent down to shake their hands.

Soon, Hwa returned to the stage, wearing a very tight magenta and black striped number. Her dancers came out in pink pants and aqua tank tops while Jong’s second outfit was the white equivalent of the first.

The crowd quickly made their way outside in an effort to catch a final glimpse of the performers when the concert ended at 10:30 p.m.

While some grumblings were heard about the short length of the concert, many had nothing but positive things to say about the show. “It was great,” said 12-year-old Helen Shin. Her friend, Sarah Park, 13, agreed.

The stars are s popular in Korea that they can’t even go out in public without being accompanied by bodyguards. However, since they aren’t as well known in Canada, the smaller confines of the Ryerson Theatre seemed to be the perfect venue for them to perform. Hwa’s and Jong’s CDs can be found in Korea town near Christie and Bloor streets.

Hwa and Jong were unable to give interviews due to illness and jet lag. The stars had flown in the day of the concert from Vancouver, where they launched their Canadian tour.

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