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Sunday, Jan. 25, 2004

CHANNEL SURF

Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui talk on TBS and more

Earlier this month, South Korea implemented the fourth phase of allowing Japanese popular culture into the country. In 1945, Korea imposed a ban on Japanese cultural products, but from the mid-'90s the country began to relax restrictions. Now, only Japanese animated films and Japanese TV variety shows are prohibited in Korea.

So-nin, the Korean actress who has become popular as a talent in Japan, hosts a special documentary about Korean popular culture on NHK Monday night (BS1, 10 p.m.). The program looks at the latest liberalizations but also discusses the current strengths of Korean popular culture, especially the country's movie industry, which is the most vibrant in Asia. Korean stars are becoming extremely popular in China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand. Show-business professionals from these countries travel to Korea to study the industry, especially in the area of movie and television production.

Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui are the two most popular Japanese players in Major League Baseball, but likely few fans know they have a relationship of sorts. Apparently, they first met as junior high-school students, when their respective prefectural teams (Ichiro's from Aichi, Matsui's from Ichikawa) played at a national championship. They met again under similar circumstances when they were in high school, and rumor has it that they even discussed their professional prospects at the time.

On Tuesday at 9 p.m., TBS will present an exclusive conversation between the two stars. During the program, they will watch video footage of the past baseball season and comment on their performances. They will also discuss the differences between baseball in the United States and baseball in Japan. Perhaps most significantly, they will also discuss the Japanese media.

Next weekend, NHK will present a special two-part documentary on the holy city of Jerusalem (NHK-G, Saturday and Sunday, 9 p.m.) that will focus on the modern struggle for the soul of a city that is claimed as a sacred place by Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

In Part One, which will air Saturday, a short history of the city is presented, starting with footage filmed by the Lumiere Brothers when Jerusalem was still controlled by the Ottomans. The history will continue through Israel's founding shortly after World War II and the third Middle East War, which gave Israel sole possession of the city.

Sunday's documentary explores how the struggle over Jerusalem has shaped the world. In order to protect itself and its interests, Israel has repeatedly turned to the United States, which, ever since the Johnson administration, has supported Israeli defense policies.



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