Asia News: K-pop Stars Sentenced, Hokkaido, U2 & BookMyShow

Jung Joon-young
AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File
– Jung Joon-young
In this March 14, 2019, file photo, K-pop singer Jung Joon-young, center, speaks upon his arrival at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in Seoul, South Korea. A South Korean court has found two K-pop stars guilty of illicit sexual relations with a woman who was unable to resist and sentenced them to up to six years in prison. The Seoul Central District Court says singer-songwriter Jung received a six-year prison term.

K-pop Stars Get Prison Terms For Sexual Assault
Two South Korean K-pop stars were sentenced to prison for sexual assault Nov. 29. Singer-songwriter Jung Joon-young received a six-year term and Choi Jong-hoon, formerly a member of the band FT Island, five years. 
The court said the pair committed “special quasi-rape,” which essentially means that the two men, along with others, gang-raped a woman who was not conscious at the time. 
In addition Jung was convicted of recording 11 sex videos of women against their will and sharing them with others via chat apps. On top of their jail sentences the two men will also have to undergo 80 hours of treatment for sexually offensive behavior. 
Both men reportedly broke down in court when the sentences were read out. 
The offenses have rocked South Korea’s entertainment world since the beginning of the year after police started investigating the alleged crimes in relation to a case involving a night club where sexual favors were provided to investors. 
Choi, 29, and Jung, 30, are not the only male stars who have been accused of exploiting women to advance their positions in the entertainment industry. Among the people with whom Jung shared his sex videos was Seungri, the high profile star of Big Bang, one of the biggest boy bands in K-pop. 
Seungri, in fact, is at the center of the police investigation into the illicit night club activities. The star himself has been accused of illegal gambling as well as soliciting sex and drugs for business partners. 
Jung became a star in 2014 after participating in a television audition show. He recorded several solo hit songs before retiring last March in the wake of the scandal. 
FT Island is a rock band that formed in 2007 and remains very popular throughout Asia. Choi left the group last spring when he was indicted. The group has continued without him.
Hokkaido Withdraws From Race For Casino
Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost large island and a prefecture unto itself, has decided to remove itself from the competition for the chance to host a casino resort. 
The governor of Hokkaido, Naomichi Suzuki, announced Nov. 29 that he will not pursue an immediate bid to construct the integrated resort under Japan’s new liberalized gambling law due to protests from local residents about the project’s environmental impact.
The announcement has significantly changed the situation surrounding the race among various local governments in Japan to host one of three integrated resorts incorporating casino gambling that is being promoted by the central government. 
After three localities are chosen, the resorts are expected to open sometime in the mid-2020s. 
Now that Hokkaido has pulled out, the competition is between the cities of Yokohama and Osaka, as well as the prefectures of Wakayama in central Japan and Nagasaki in western Japan. Tokyo and the cities of Chiba to the east and Nagoya to the west are also in the running. 
According the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper, Suzuki told the prefectural assembly, “An integrated resort in Hokkaido that would coexist with nature has big potential, but I thought it would be impossible for us to give due consideration to the environment in the limited period of time before the government selects the locations.” 
Formal applications for the resorts will be accepted by the central government for seven months starting in January 2021. 
Local governments will be required to hold an open tender process to partner with a private-sector company for the bids. Hokkaido had originally said it wanted to build its resort in the town of Tomakomai, which is close to the island’s main airport, and was entertaining partnership overtures from Hard Rock Cafe Resorts, among others. 
Local residents of the town expressed concern about the impact of construction on a nearby lake and its attendant wildlife sanctuary. The residents submitted a petition protesting the resort with 20,000 signatures. Other residents objected to the presence of a gambling venue in their community. 
Nevertheless, the governor says the prefecture is still preparing a bid for another casino resort in the future, but probably not in Tomakomai. The central government has said that it may increase the number of integrated resorts after the first three are approved, but not until seven years have passed. 
U2 Meets Singapore
U2 made the most of its concert debut in Singapore on Nov. 30 at the city’s National Stadium. 
Opening with “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” the band put on quite a twilight show for a crowd that numbered about 50,000 people for the seventh stop on its current Joshua Tree Tour. 
According to Channel News Asia, frontman Bono was visibly moved by the huge reaction, thanking the audience for their patience. “It only took us 42 years,” he said.
The show eluded the excesses that have characterized the band’s tours for the last 20 years, settling for an almost bare stage augmented by a 50-meter screen that nevertheless “allowed for intimacy” in the open-air venue, according to CNA. 
Among the localizations to the set was a video tribute to women of the world during the song “Ultraviolet” featuring Singapore’s Elizabeth Choy, Margaret Thomas and the Singapore Women’s Everest Team. 
The band returned the next night for a second show, and local media reports said that there were nasty traffic jams outside the venue for the Saturday night show due to multiple events happening in the city. 

Jungle Ventures Invests In BookMyShow
Jungle Ventures, a Singapore-based venture capital enterprise, has invested an undisclosed amount of money in BookMyShow, an online ticketing platform that works in Southeast Asia. 
Thanks to the investment, BookMyShow says it will be able to expand and become one of the biggest ticketing destinations in the region. The company entered the market in 2016, mainly in Singapore and Malaysia. 
Kenneth Tan, chief executive officer of BookMyShow, told the business website LiveMint: “The out-of-home entertainment ecosystem in Southeast Asia has immense growth potential. With an experienced investor in Jungle Ventures by our side, we aim to strengthen our capabilities to bring newer avenues of experiences.”
A good portion of Jungle Ventures investments is in India, so the move into Southeast Asia is significant. BookMyShow is said to be worth about $1.3 billion as it prepares for a secondary share sale.