The statue, revealed after an 8-year effort by a Queen superfan, is the second such depiction of the late singer approved by the band's label.

Mercury's first statue is in Montreux, Switzerland, where he lived and recorded Queen albums.
Mercury's first statue is in Montreux, Switzerland, where he lived and recorded Queen albums. (AFP)

A die-hard Queen fan has unveiled a life-size bronze statue of vocalist Freddie Mercury on South Korea's resort island of Jeju, after an eight-year quest to honour his late hero.

Businessman and Queen superfan Baek Soon-yeob spent $40,000 (50 million won) commissioning the 177-centimetre statue of Mercury, which was unveiled on Thursday on the scenic Jeju coast.

South Korean Queen fans made a pilgrimage to Jeju Island to attend the event.

Queen guitarist Brian May, clutching a model of the statue Baek had sent him, told fans via video message that he was with them "in spirit" on Jeju, and said "I know he (Mercury) would be happy with it."

It is the second statue of the late singer approved by Queen's label - the first is in Montreux, Switzerland, where Mercury lived and recorded Queen albums.

Mercury died of AIDS-related complications in 1991.
Mercury died of AIDS-related complications in 1991. (AP Archive)

An eight-year effort

The British rock band Queen is popular in South Korea, although their music was banned in the 1970s by then-military dictator Park Chung-hee's regime, which considered it "unsuitable".

57-year-old Baek used to listen to bootleg recordings of Freddie Mercury. His songs "kept me going despite many hurdles along the way", Baek said, adding it had been an emotional eight-year effort to build the statue.

"I started emailing Queen's company in 2014 asking for a rights approval" to erect the statue, Baek said. He wrote an email every month but did not get a reply for seven years.

In early 2020, he finally received a response ahead of Queen's first-ever South Korean concert. Band members and label officials were prepared to meet him in Seoul.

That concert was a result of South Korea's recent fervent embrace of Queen, after nearly 10 million people watched the 2018 Oscar-winning biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" starring Rami Malek.

In a country of 51 million people, that means approximately a fifth of the population watched the movie in cinemas, where it grossed $70 million and sat atop box office lists for weeks.

After receiving approval in 2020, the statue depicting Mercury clenching his fist was finally unveiled.

Despite Queen's popularity in South Korea, Baek faced protests over his project, with some people complaining about him erecting a "statue of a homosexual".

READ MORE: Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' now most-streamed 20th century song

Source: AFP