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Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006

Channel surf

Over the past decade, "free papers," which are publications given out on the street or stacked up in designated public places, have become a booming business. Once crudely printed on cheap paper, many are now full-color glossies, with good writing and high-end advertising. They can be found everywhere in Japan, not just in big cities.

TV Tokyo's business-oriented documentary show "Dawn of Gaia" (Tuesday, 10 p.m.) looks at the free-paper boom, in particular the magazine R25, which can be found in almost every major train station. R25, published by the job-search giant Recruit, originally targeted young men between the ages of 25 and 32. The company learned that salarymen in this age group didn't read long articles, so they limited the number of words in the pieces.

In 1910, after Japan annexed the Korean Peninsula, the members of the Korean royal family were used by the Japanese authorities for political purposes. On Friday at 9 p.m., Fuji TV will present "The Princess Who Formed a Rainbow," which is about Crown Prince Lee Eun's marriage to a Japanese woman.

The prince (Junichi Okada) is brought to Japan to study, though in effect he is a hostage. His Japanese handlers decide that a marriage of convenience is in order and set him up with Princess Masako (Miho Kanno), the daughter of a peer of Japan's Imperial family. They fall in love.

The prince becomes an officer in the Imperial military and after his father dies he takes his place as the head of the Korean royal family. However, following Japan's surrender, the new Korean government bans the peerage and, uncomfortable with whatever influence the prince still has over the people, prevents him from returning to Korea. He and Masako settle in Japan.

On Saturday, Fuji TV will present another epic love story based on real events, "Haruka naru Yakusoku" (Faraway Promise; 9 p.m.), which is about Yasaburo Hachiya (Hiroshi Abe), a soldier who marries a nurse, Hisako (Hitomi Kuroki), that he meets while hospitalized in 1940.

Yasaburo and Hisako marry and have a daughter, but Yasaburo is shipped off to China, where he is stationed when the war ends. The Russians imprison him as a spy. Later, he marries Claudia, a Russian woman and fellow former prisoner, and settles in Russia. However, he never forgets his family back in Japan, and almost 50 years after last seeing Hisako, he returns for a visit.

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