Fan Outrage at Beijing Auto Show as K-Pop Star Misses Event

Kim Soo-hyun

Hundreds of amassed fans at the world's biggest auto show in the world's biggest car market were disappointed when Hyundai postponed Kim Soo-hyun's appearance over security concerns.

BEIJING -- Hundreds of fans who showed up at the Beijing Auto Show to see South Korean actor Kim Soo-hyun, who was signed up by Hyundai Motor Co. to give its latest SUV a lift in the world's largest car market, were disappointed when the star of the hit Korean drama My Love From the Star failed to show up at the promised time.

Kim plays a handsome alien stranded on Earth in the show, the most watched drama ever on China's online video platform The show is so popular in China that it recently caused a spike in Korean beer and fried chicken consumption in the country, after fans began imitating one of the stars, who's crazy about "chimaek," the popular Korean snack of fried chicken and beer. The Beijing public security bureau told Hyundai to cancel the appearance for security reasons, prompting outrage among the waiting fans, who began to boo. 

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Even though Sunday was a media day for accredited journalists, there were plenty of civilians in attendance, and many of the fans had paid to get into the exhibition.

The star later appeared at the Hyundai booth, but by that time, many of the fans had headed home. Kim promotes at least 30 companies in South Korea and China, including Samsung and Coca-Cola.

China is a big market for the Korean carmaker. Its Chinese sales rose 9 percent, to 270,347 vehicles in the first quarter compared with the year-ago period.

There were plenty of foreign celebrities who had a virtual presence at the car show, the biggest in the world of its kind. For example, Toyota featured Beyonce in its campaign at the show and showed a video interview with her, and Johnny Depp's partially bit-mapped face in Transcendence loomed over the event.

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The economy in China is slowing, but it's still the biggest market for luxury cars, and former L.A. Galaxy and Manchester United soccer star (and current underwear model) David Beckham is being used as Jaguar's new brand ambassador for China.

Making a special appearance at the show is the Ford Mustang -- the world's first pony car is celebrating its 50th anniversary at Auto China 2014, with an exclusive preview of its new version.