Koreansuperstar Bae Yong-joon is taking a leading role in an ambitious new Asian entertainment venture.
Bae has become the largest shareholder in KOSDAQ-listed Autowin Tech in a joint investment with Japanese IT group Softbank. The plan is to transform the computer systems business, which will be known as Key East, into a company producing and distributingfilms and TV drama series. The company's share value has rocketed 89.55% sincelast month..
AprilSnow star Bae, also known as Yonsama (Prince Yong) to hishordes of Japanese fans, is to buy out 37.5% of Autowin shares for $9m, whileSoftbank Korea subsidiary Softbank Ventures and a consortium it has createdwill invest another $3m.
"Thereis no entertainment company that represents Asia in the way Disney and SonyPictures Entertainment represent the western world," Softbank Ventures CEO MoonGyu-hak said, adding that they plan to create new markets with the enterprise.
Talentagency IMX, which represents Bae inJapan, is also to invest $1m in the company. IMX stated Bae is investinga part of last year's earnings, which come to a total of $20m.
Baecommented that "the Korean cultural content industry's competitiveness hasimproved greatly" and that he looks forward to developing the Asian contentmarket with Softbank and IMX.
Bae hasalready invested $2.1m in IMX which is also making inroads into the Asiancontent market. The company recently attracted attention when it boughtJapanese rights to Taiwanese film The Shoe Fairy at the last year's Pusan International Film Festival.
Witheverything from $300 limited-edition Bae Yong-joon teddy bears to TV dramatheme tours in Korea - to his current business ventures in Japan andKorea - Yonsama looks set to become his own mini empire.