• Kyodo

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The city of Kitakyushu is sponsoring a television series in Thailand in an attempt to attract tourists from the country.

“Devil Lover,” a romantic science-fiction action drama series that uses Kitakyushu as its main filming location, should bring many Thai visitors to the city, Mayor Kenji Kitahashi said Monday.

“Kitakyushu is an industrial port city with a richness of beautiful nature and mountain scenery that are suitable to be used as filming locations,” Kitahashi said during an event at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Bangkok marking the show’s launch.

The city’s residents have proved more than willing to cooperate with filming, he added.

“Six thousand people have registered to volunteer as unpaid extras for filming in Kitakyushu. They have cooperated very well,” the mayor said.

With Kitakyushu’s resemblance to Thailand’s port province of Rayong, Kitahashi said the city also hopes the city will be chosen as the Thai Olympic team’s training camp ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

TV drama-driven tourism strategies have proven effective in the past.

In one example, Thai tourists to Fukuoka have jumped 90 percent since April after the drama “Kolkimono” (“Kimono’s Trap”), which was shot there, was broadcast on Thai TV, according to Shiro Sadoshima, the Japanese ambassador to Thailand and a native of Fukuoka.

The 28-year-old protagonist and producer of “Devil Lover,” Pitchaya Nitipaisankul, known by his nickname “Golf,” said Kitakyushu’s variety of locations played a big role in its selection as the drama’s main location.

“We tried to find many locations, but only Kitakyushu could completely match all of the story’s themes. The cultural scene is also a highlight. We tried to cover all of the varied aspects of the city,” Golf said.

Among 30 locations, the actor said the Hiraodai karst plateaus — a natural rock formation — and Kokura Castle were his favorite spots during the 11-day filming schedule.

At the launch event, Golf, a regular visitor to Japan and a student of the Japanese language, was appointed Kitakyushu’s cultural ambassador to Thailand, a role he hopes can help promote good relations between the two countries.

“Devil Lover” will begin airing in Thailand on Oct. 7.

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