Asia News: $400m Seoul Development Project, Hong Kong Protests, Rugby World Cup & More

Seoul Plans $400m Development Project

The city of Seoul plans to take full advantage of the worldwide K-pop boom with an ambitious development project. The city government announced Sept. 16 it would invest more than $400 million in a scheme to make it “a music hub,” according to the Korea Herald newspaper. 
The money is earmarked for a five-year plan focused on nine projects that will cultivate the local music industry, develop musical exchanges with other global cities and expand music programs for Seoul residents. In a statement the city’s deputy mayor for cultural affairs, Yoo Yeon-sik, said, “We aim to enhance Seoul’s competitiveness, as well as increase the quality of life for Seoul residents through music.”
In the announcement, Liverpool and Aspen were mentioned as models of municipal music hubs, the former because it is the birthplace of the Beatles and the latter because of its renowned classical music festival. 
At the heart of the Seoul scheme is the construction of large concert venues, including the already planned 18,400-seat Seoul Arena and a 2,000-seat Seoul Classic Hall, which will be completed in 2023 and 2024, respectively. The establishment of these venues will create approximately 12,000 jobs a year. 
Music education programs for residents will also increase through new musical centers and campaigns designed to encourage people to lend out musical instruments. 
The scope of this endeavor goes beyond K-pop to embrace traditional Korean music forms and indie pop and rock. A center devoted exclusively to traditional music will be built by 2022, and various marketing schemes will be put in place to promote indie artists. 
As it stands, Seoul is already overwhelmingly the country’s music capital, since, according to Yonhap News, 77 percent of the country’s concerts take place in Seoul and 62 percent of the music-related businesses are based there.

AP Photo/Vincent Yu
– Hong Kong Protests
An anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail during a demonstration near Central Government Complex in Hong Kong, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. Police fired a water cannon and tear gas at protesters who lobbed Molotov cocktails outside the Hong Kong government office complex Sunday, as violence flared anew after thousands of pro-democracy supporters marched through downtown in defiance of a police ban.

Hong Kong Protests Prompt Wave Of Cancellations
The ongoing protest movement against the encroachment of Beijing’s influence on city affairs continues to cause cancellations of concerts and sporting events in Hong Kong. 
Over the past several weeks a number of prominent entertainers have canceled or postponed Hong Kong events including K-pop acts Daniel Kang and GOT7 and comedian Trevor Noah. In addition, a sizable wellness summit was abruptly moved from Hong Kong to Singapore due to the unrest.
On Sept. 12 producers of a touring version of the award-winning West End musical “Matilda,” based on the children’s book by Roald Dahl, canceled a month-long run in the city that was supposed to start Sept. 20. The theater that was to stage the musical, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, is close to police headquarters, which has become a nexus of violence between protesters and the authorities. A representative of the producers told the media that the protests have “decimated” ticket sales.
According to AFP, the WTA Hong Kong Open women’s tennis tournament set for October was “postponed” on Sept. 13. A statement by the Hong Kong Tennis Association said, “After extensive discussions with our key stakeholders, we conclude that a smooth running of the tournament can be better assured at a later time.”
Hong Kong had already been feeling economic pressure from the trade spat between the U.S. and China when the protest started several months ago in response to a bill that would make it possible for mainland China to extradite criminal suspects from the territory. Tourist numbers have also plunged. In fact protesters have said that one of their aims is to inflict economic damage on the city in order to put pressure on its leaders. 
Rugby Cup: Don’t Run Out Of Beer
Ahead of the Rugby World Cup, which begins Sept. 20, tournament organizers were warning bars and restaurants throughout Japan not to run out of beer. 
A report by the financial newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun outlined special information sessions that were held in “at least four of the 12 host cities.” 
Organizers basically told business owners to make sure they had enough beer on hand to satisfy thirsty overseas visitors. The executive director of operations, Rick Wright, even went as far as to say that “running out of beer could ruin Japan’s reputation for hospitality on social media.”
Japan’s storied hospitality, referred to locally as “omotenashi,” is on the line with the RWC 2019. 
Next year, Tokyo will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and a good global report card on what foreign sports lovers can expect will do much for the country’s tourism, which at the moment is seeing a huge boom, though mainly from other Asian countries.
The thing about rugby fans is that they are notoriously big beer drinkers, guzzling on average six times more suds than soccer fans. More to the point, research shows that they imbibe 4.4 glasses of beer for every one glass of beer consumed by a Japanese rugby fan. 
The organizers say they have reason to be concerned, since beer did sell out during the Argentina-Ireland match at the 2003 World Cup in Australia and again four years later in Marseilles during the South Africa-Fiji test. The reaction in both cases was akin to chaos.
One Japanese chain pub told the newspaper that it had secured seven times its usual supply of beer for its outlet situated near the International Stadium in Yokohama, which will host seven matches during the tournament. Heineken, which is the official beer of the World Cup 2019, said it expects to sell more than 1.1 million cases of beer in Japan during the year, a 70 percent sales increase over other years. 
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Matthew Lazarus-Hall

Matthew Lazarus-Hall Named SVP of AEG Presents Asia Pacific
Matthew Lazarus-Hall will be appointed to the position of senior vice president of AEG Presents, Asia Pacific, The Music Network reports. His job will be to oversee all touring, festivals and sports across the Pan-Asian region for the California-based promoter. As such he will be based at AEG’s regional headquarters in Singapore, which overlooks 40 markets.
Lazarus-Hall was previously the CEO of Chugg Entertainment for 12 years. He is also the general manager of CMC Rocks Queensland in Australia, a role he will continue to fill. He was also once with Ticketek, an Australian ticketing agent, where he was central to operations of the Sydney Olympic Games and the Rugby World Cup. He also ran his own consulting service. 
Lazarus-Hall will report to Adam Wilkes, president and CEO of AEG Asia, which is intent on entering into partnerships to build venues in the region. 
The new senior vice president told TMN, “There’s a lot of opportunities here for growth, from the quality acts in the region which we will promote to the rest of the world, to the many international acts who’re coming through the region. Asia is no longer an afterthought but a definite part of the plan, and AEG’s mission is to take artists on that journey.”