Asia: Kpop, Shinhwa, Casinos

Kpop Tours Leaving China For U.S. 

G Dragon
AP Photo
– G Dragon
During a press conference in Hong Kong.

Kpop groups who have been locked out of China due to a political spat are now turning their attention to the USA.

As recent as 2013 there were only seven Kpop concert tours of the U.S., according to CNN.

So far in 2017 there have already been 14, including one by G-Dragon, the biggest producer-songwriter in the genre.

And before embarking on their already sold-out Japanese tour in July, the seven-member BTS did a three-city tour of the states in the spring, during which they also won a prestigious industry award. Given the established popularity of Kpop artists in China and the huge population, most of these groups, and especially their management, would probably prefer working in China for economic reasons.

But in a sense Kpop has overlooked the U.S., the biggest music market in the world, because it didn’t seem cost-effective to compete with Western artists. Now, they have the chance, and the inclination, to show their stuff.

American Kpop fans who have mostly felt left out now have a chance to see their idols up close.

Some fans are even flying halfway across the country to see their heroes, since they still tend to limit their tours to major American cities.

Like most Asian pop performers, Kpop artists tend to interact with their fans more readily than Western artists do, talking at length between songs and revealing their personalities.

Unlike most Asian pop performers, however, Kpop artists tend to be fluent in English, so there’s an added incentive for American fans to go the extra mile. Local production companies have taken advantage of the unique opportunity.

One, SubKulture Entertainment, based in Los Angeles, told CNN that it was able to “almost sell out” SHINee’s American tour by targeting Kpop fans online.

The company’s CEO told CNN that most Kpop fans became fans through media like YouTube, so it makes sense to give them the news that Kpop is here through the same portals.

Shinhwa Cancels

Six-member boy band Shinhwa announced May 24 it had canceled two Japanese concerts scheduled for May 30-31 and promised to refund tickets.

According to Kpop fan site Soompi, the group was not satisfied with the way the local concert production company was handling the shows, and accused the company of “violating many of the clauses in their contract,” despite many “compromises” on the part of Shinhwa.

In the end, however, the group decided to cancel the concerts and take “strong legal action against the production company for their many contract violations.”

Eyeing Osaka For Casinos

Ever since the Japanese government announced that it would pursue the legalization of casino gambling, many international casino developers have visited the country in hopes of getting in on the ground level to open integrated resorts.

Most of these players have favored Tokyo as the natural gambling hub of the archipelago because of its cosmopolitan reputation and access to high-end tourists. But one casino executive is placing his bets on Osaka, Japan’s second-biggest city. Bloomberg has reported that Lawrence Ho, the owner of Melco Resorts and Entertainment, the fourth-biggest casino operator in Macau, favors the Kansai region, of which Osaka is the capital, for any resorts he might build in Japan.

Ho believes that Osakans, who are considered saltier and more business savvy than Tokyoites, have a greater capacity for “fun” than their Eastern brethren, as well. The distinction is important because some of the companies who will compete for Japanese licenses are the biggest in the industry, including Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts International.

Tokyo is, population-wise, one of the densest places on the planet. The greater Tokyo metropolitan area accounts for almost one-third of Japan’s population. Ho, however, thinks it is this hugeness that makes the capital less than optimal for the kind of IR that is popular in Vegas and Macau.

“Tokyo by itself is amazing,” Ho told Bloomberg. “It’s like when people ask me: ‘Do you think New York and London need an integrated resort?’ No, they don’t.”

In addition, Tokyo land prices are so high, even by world standards, that any large-scale construction project is open to great risk.

Japanese lawmakers have yet to establish rules on taxation and regulations with regard to casinos, so in the meantime Ho is looking for partners in Japan, a process he describes as “speed dating.”