Asia News: BTS, Zedd, Typhoon Hagibis & More

BTS Breaks Barriers In Saudi Arabia

Superstar K-pop boy band BTS made history on Oct. 11 by being the first non-Arab act to play a stadium show in Saudi Arabia. The concert, part of BTS’s “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself” world tour, took place at King Fahd International Stadium before a crowd of 30,000 people (the stadium can hold 70,000).
Perhaps predictably, the group has come under fire for playing for an authoritarian regime, according to the Guardian. In July, when the concert was announced, the group’s fans seemed to be of two minds, with some mentioning the murder of exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey as proof of the country’s poor human rights record. 
BTS is involved in Unicef’s End Violence campaign, so others felt there was some contradiction in the group’s agreement to play Saudi Arabia. Consequently, some fans tweeted their objection to the concert with the hashtag #BTSdontgo. The Human Rights Foundation also objected, saying that BTS was “whitewashing” the country’s human rights violations. “HRF calls on celebrities to think twice before endorsing authoritarian regimes,” the foundation tweeted.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, BTS defended its decision, admitting that it was one they thought about carefully but that in the end they had been invited to perform in an official capacity and “we go where people want to see us.” The group’s management, BigHit, also acknowledged that some “concessions” had been made for the globally streamed concert having to do with BTS’s dance moves.
Zedd’s Twitter Trouble
It seems the German electronic music superstar Zedd will never, ever be able to perform again in China. On Twitter, Zedd himself announced the ban, explaining that his offense was “liking” another tweet from the account of the Comedy Central animated show “South Park.”
According to the Daily Wire, “South Park” recently ran an episode that made fun of China’s censorship laws, and the Chinese authorities responded by immediately removing everything related to the satirical series from the internet in the People’s Republic, including YouTube clone sites, message board discussions and social media. 
For his part, Zedd did not actually say anything about China on Twitter, he simply liked a South Park tweet, one, in fact, that had nothing ostensibly to do with China or the problematic episode. But, apparently, any public person who shows any kind of appreciation or even acknowledgement of “South Park” is now suspect in the Chinese authorities’ eyes. 
Though there has been no overt Chinese announcement about the Zedd ban, has reported that concert promoters in China have been forced to cancel any upcoming Zedd appearances in China, an outcome that the artist himself confirmed on Instagram, saying, “…this is NOT a joke. The government informed our promoters that if they don’t cancel my scheduled shows in China, they would pull their cultural permits.” 
Fox News, however, has reported that Zedd’s music still seemed to be available on some streaming services in China as of October 12. 
Chinese crackdowns on foreign access to Chinese audiences has become stricter with the ongoing Hong Kong protests.
Kyodo News via AP
– Typhoon
Nagano, central Japan, as affected by Typhoon Hagibis, pictured Oct. 14, which has led to the cancellation of two Rugby World Cup Matches, the Asagiri Jam festival and a concert by Eikichi Yazawa.
Hagibis Wreaks Havoc

Typhoon Hagibis, the largest storm to strike the Japanese archipelago in almost 60 years, effectively shut down central and eastern Japan for most of the weekend of Oct. 12-13. 
Train operators anticipated the storm and stopped service hours before the eye of the typhoon made land at about 6 p.m. on Saturday. 
Two matches of the Rugby World Cup 2019, which runs until the first week of November, were canceled. More significantly, Asagiri Jam, the annual autumn two-day rock festival that takes place in the shadow of Mount Fuji, was called off three days before it was to start on the afternoon of Oct. 12 by the organizer Smash, just in time to prevent scheduled international acts from getting on airplanes and flying over. A few artists did happen to make it, like Ireland’s Hothouse Flowers, but they were also scheduled to play other Japan shows. 
Another concert that was canceled was veteran Japanese rocker Eikichi Yazawa’s special, almost intimate The Star in Hibiya extravaganza set for October 12. 
Yazawa, one of Japan’s most enduring classic rock singers, has been arena-popular for several decades, and he wanted to play the old Hibiya Park Amphitheater in the center of Tokyo. 
The last time he performed there was 43 years ago. Since the place only holds about 2,000 people, a lottery was set up and tickets quickly sold out, but when forecasters predicted Hagibis, the show was called off. In response, Yazawa set up a closed internet transmission of a live rehearsal that would take place on Oct. 19 and would be received by 2,400 lucky fans who applied for the opportunity to watch online for free. 
Naturally, competition for slots was fierce, and at least one troll blasted the singer for “tying up” the “internet lifeline” during the typhoon when the authorities and victims of the weather were so dependent on it. As Buzzfeed Japan indicated, the lottery for broadband slots hardly made a dent in Internet connectivity. 
Reportedly, Yazawa was furious and posted his own rant, complaining about “nitpicking” on the net.
Ventures Guitarist Gerry McGee Dies In Japan

Guitarist Gerry McGee, for years a member of the seminal American instrumental rock group The Ventures, died in a Tokyo hospital on Oct. 12 after collapsing on stage in the Japanese capital on Oct. 8. 
The cause of death was heart failure. McGee was 82.
A native of Lousiana, McGee played with a wide variety of acts, from Captain Beefheart to the Monkees, but became the lead guitarist for The Ventures in the mid-60s. 
Consequently, he participated in almost all the subsequent months-long annual tours of Japan, where The Ventures have sold more records than The Beatles. In 2017, he fell ill during one of those tours and then quit the band. When he died last week, he was in the middle of a solo tour of small Japanese venues.