Boyband F4 sets to charm Japanese, Korean tourist

F4, a popular Taiwanese boyband, have captured the hearts of young women around Asia with their boyish charm, and now Taiwan’s tourism bureau is hoping to cash in on the band’s popularity to promote the nation’s tourist industry.

Taiwan Tourism Bureau Director-General Janice Lai confirmed yesterday that the group would be recruited to play in a television series called Wish to See You in Taiwan.

The project is sponsored solely by the bureau, she added.

Lai said that the series will include 25 episodes, with a majority of scenes filmed at selected tourist attractions around the country.

It is going to be a "touching romantic story," Lai said.

"We will place the information on our Web site [www.taiwan.net.tw] and ask for opinions about where the filming should take place," she said.

The series will target tourists from Japan and Korea, Lai said.

It is scheduled to be broadcast in both countries in November.

Viewers in Taiwan, however, will not be able see it.

Based on the contract between the bureau and the production firm, the F4 team will meet with their fans at promotional events organized by the bureau.

The bureau owns the copyright for the series and will make a 30-second TV commerical from program content for use in Taiwan and elsewhere.

Lai said she is confident that F4 will draw the attention of female tourists from both Japan and Korea.

She said one time she was invited to be the guest of honor at an event attended by Vanness Wu , one of the band members, and his fans. Lai was asked to draw lots to pick fans to come onto the stage.

"When those lucky few got to meet Wu personally, they were so excited that they began to cry," Lai recalled.

Overall, the project will cost the bureau NT$80 million (US$2.5million), which will cover the production and the budget to buy air time in both Japan and Korea.

Lai said many people may think NT$80 million is a huge sum. They may also ask why Taiwan cannot have documentaries broadcast on the Discovery or National Geographic channels, as Malaysia and other countries have done in the past.

"Air time in Japan and Korea is really expensive," Lai said. "And the tourism bureau in Malaysia has an annual budget of NT$7 billion, which is seven times more than we have."

Earlier this week, media reported that Jerry Yen, the most popular member of F4, might not be able to act in the series because of a schedule conflict.

Chai Chi-ping, the producer of the series, said in an interview in the United Daily News that Yen has already promised to participate.

The boyband would not breach the terms of the contract, she said.

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