By Lee Kyoung Mi
Video = Tokyo Gas Group's official YouTube channel
"I fell in love with a guy 30 years younger than me."
A woman who is a taxi driver and mother to a teenage daughter is obsessed with the K-pop boy band Oneus. She listens and sings to the group's songs while driving and wears headphones and dances to its music at home. She learns Korean and visits a cafe in the Tokyo Koreatown of Shinokubo to eat dessert.
This is not a Korean story but a commercial airing in Japan.
Tokyo Gas, the largest supplier of city gas in Japan, on March 18 started airing the commercial titled "Mom's support for idols," a rare case of a Japanese public company broadcasting domestically a Hallyu-themed ad. As of March 21 at 10 a.m., the commercial garnered 5.4 million views on Twitter and over 130,000 on YouTube.
The woman's room is filled with photos of her favorite Oneus member Hwanwoong. Her surprised daughter looks around her mother's room and says, "Is this real?" The mother asks her Korean passenger who boards her cab in Korean, "Can I help you? Leave it to me."
Winning a ticket to attend a concert in Seoul, the mother makes handmade goods related to Oneus and awaits her trip. But she catches a cold from a coughing passenger and gives up going to Korea due to high fever.
"It's all over," she says in a bemoaning manner. Her daughter makes samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) for her mother and the commercial ends with the latter gaining strength from the soup.
One Twitter comment said of the ad, "I empathized with the story and was touched by it as it felt like my own. But I was surprised that it was a commercial of a gas corporation." Another added, "This is a realistic depiction of someone totally into K-pop idols."
Actor Tamae Ando, who plays the mother, said, "I started learning Hangeul because I've recently kept getting work related to Korean culture," adding, "Pronouncing the Hangeul letter woo is difficult so I had to practice it multiple times."
Tokyo Gas said of the commercial, "It deals with a mother who works hard at home and in society to support her family yet roots for idols," adding, "By focusing on what you like, being faithful to your life and portraying life getting richer, the commercial shows Tokyo Gas Group's attitude of respecting and supporting each and every individual."
As Japan's largest public corporation for city gas, Tokyo Gas owns a gas pipeline 60,000 km long in six prefectures of the Kanto region including Tokyo.