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SEOUL—Fans of pop stars send their idols all sorts of crazy stuff. In South Korea, the true measure of a fan's devotion is sending lunch to the stars.

On a recent Saturday in Seoul, members of A Pink, a seven-member girl group, worked their way through beautifully crafted lunch boxes featuring egg salad with tomatoes, basil and toasted breadcrumbs, rice wrapped in seasoned lettuce, and beef-and-vegetable-skewers, all paid for by a fan.

"We enjoyed it so much and we were so moved by all the efforts that must have been put into these lunches,"said Jung Eun-ji, a 17-year-old member of the group, one of the newest on the Korean pop scene."There were even our pictures decorated on the outside of the lunch boxes."



 Lunch boxes from fans prepared for Korean girl group A Pink.


The trend, which has spawned a little industry of specialist lunch providers, reflects the desire of many South Korean fans to nourish their idols rather than just shower them with gifts they probably don't want.

"Eat rice, cheer up and be strong, that's the message I am sending them," said Chung Kyung-young, the 38-year-old male fan who ordered lunch for A Pink.

Mr. Chung, says the lunch gifts were special. "I am so proud. It feels like giving nice gifts to your beloved nieces," said Mr. Chung, who is the father of a nine-year-old boy.

The trend of sending lunch to famous people who can afford their own started a few years ago when fans picked up on performers' complaints about being too busy to eat properly. In the last year or so it has taken off.

Kim Su-ji runs Suji Kim's Dosirak Art in Seoul, one of the leading "star lunch" suppliers. Ms. Kim has supplied made-to-order lunches for most of the top names in Korean pop. (Dosirak means lunch box in Korean; the meals are similar to Japanese bento boxes.) Dosirak Art is known for its elaborately decorated lunch boxes featuring laces, beads and hand-drawn pictures of the stars.





Ms. Kim, the lunch box maker, traces the phenomenon of fans sending lunches back to the tradition of sending food gifts and the long-held belief in Korea that rice is a source of strength. "A bowl of rice is equivalent to love and affection in Korea," she said.

Chung Il-hwathe PR manager of A Pink, said the filter system ensures food safety.
Ms. Jung from A Pink said she isn't worried. "I believe fans would care about us as much as we do care about them," though she admitted her mom used to get anxious about such presents.

"Look, I am just fine," she said cheerfully.


Edited by : gorjess8@a-pink.net
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