Fear Korea?

Three Korean musical acts, Big Bang, Girls Generation and Kara, have been among the biggest-selling artists in Japan this past year, and therefore were expected to be invited to “Kohaku Uta Gassen” (Red and White Song Competition).

The annual New Year’s Eve concert has been broadcast live by Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, for more than 60 years.

The show has always been considered the premier musical event of the year, honoring those artists who have made the biggest impact commercially. K-pop acts, including the now disbanded TVXQ, have appeared on the show in past years.

However, no Korean acts were in the lineup announced at the end of November, causing fan sites in Korea to wonder if NHK was purposely shutting out Korean artists who might steal the show from their Japanese counterparts.

Asked by reporters, “Kohaku” director Keisuke Inoue said that the matter was discussed but in the end no one involved in the selection process actually put forth any Korean artists for consideration.

“It is certain that this year K-pop has been remarkable on the Japanese music scene,” he said. “This movement will surely continue into next year, and we will support it. The next chance we have, we will definitely invite them to Kohaku.”

He added that the process of selecting artists for the show is complicated and involves a number of people listening to music with a “certain frame of mind” for the program.

Big Bang and Girls Generation have also been nominated in several categories for the 52nd Japan Record Awards, which will be announced Dec. 30.

In related news, the two members of TVXQ, Yunho and Changmin, who did not leave the group in 2009 in a contract dispute with the band’s South Korean talent agency, have announced that they will continue on as a duo under the TVXQ name. No date has been announced for the pair’s “comeback.”