Asia: Korean Participation In ‘We Are The World 2020’ Signals Fence-Mending With China
Publications Speculate Charity Performance Indicates Improved China-Korea Relations
The Korea Times speculates that China’s unofficial ban on K-pop is being lifted owing to the fact that some Korean singers have been invited to participate in the We Are The World 2020 online concert to help victims of the coronavirus epidemic.
The concert, which is being called the “Chinese version” of the 1985 Live Aid benefit concert to help Africa, will take place April 30 and is being organized by a joint venture between Korean media commerce platform KVLY and major Chinese entertainment agency Freegos Entertainment.
The invited K-pop stars – reportedly including G-Dragon of boy band BigBang –will be performing in Seoul while the Chinese singers, including Jay Chou and Jacky Cheung, will be broadcasting from Shenzhen. There will also be artists recording performances in places like Europe and Macau.
The Korea Times reports that the state-affiliated China Benevolent General Association was planning to send representatives to South Korean record labels in order to arrange for the Korean artists to livestream on Chinese platforms. It would mark the first time since 2016 that China has opened its online platforms to Korean content.
Though it has never been officially stated, the general belief is that Beijing began blocking K-pop and other Korean entertainment content in China after the U.S. deployed a missile defense system on South Korean soil, despite China’s objections.
Nevertheless, a South Korean expert told the newspaper, “It seems premature to judge whether the concert is a positive indication” that the ban had been lifted. “Korea keeps talking about [it], but China is unlikely to make a public announcement about the removal, because it never officially admitted to it.”
The benefit concert, he thinks, may be “compensation” from China as a reward to South Korea for not banning Chinese nationals from entering South Korea during the peak of the coronavirus epidemic in China.
Another South Korean expert pointed out that the We Are the World 2020 event “looks like a concert by the Chinese for the Chinese.” By inviting prominent K-pop stars, who will guarantee viewership, they hope to come across as leading the way in helping solve the problem of the coronavirus epidemic and reduce criticism.
But everyone seems to think it will help the Korean entertainment business in the long run. Once the concert has taken place, Korean music companies will likely make offers for cultural exchanges.
In related news, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) wondered in an April 19 article where China was during the One World: Together At Home event that was broadcast worldwide on April 19 to help raise money to help fight the epidemic and aid front-line medical workers. The cross-platform event was organized by the World Health Organization and Global Citizen in league with Lady Gaga and featured at-home performances by the Rolling Stones, Billie Eilish Jennifer Lopez, Elton John and dozens of other top stars.
The Asian contingency was represented by Hong Kong singers Eason Chan and Jackie Cheung, while China-born classical pianist Lang Lang (who now lives in Hong Kong) showed up to accompany Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli. SCMP found it odd, however, that no major mainland pop stars participated, and speculated that it may have been due to “China’s…uneasy relationship with some of the celebrities taking part.”
Lady Gaga has previously met with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who is considered an advocate for Tibetan independence. Paul McCartney, who also performed, has been a vocal critic of Chinese “wet markets.”
The eight-hour event was not available on Chinese television or online in China though some individuals did share isolated clips on social media, where China’s absence was mentioned by a number of internet users. One commented, “If the world has no access to your music, how can the world make sense of your values?”
Asian Tours Reschedule To 2021
A number of major Asian tours that were supposed to take place this spring have been rescheduled for 2021, including Green Day’s extensive run through the region.
On April 20, Slipknot announced that it had rescheduled its two-day Knotfest Japan festival for January 10-11 and has managed to retain almost all of the major artists who were set to appear at the original event scheduled for last March before the Japanese government asked concert promoters to cancel events in the wake of the epidemic. Korn, Marilyn Manson, Anthrax and Trivium are among the acts who said they still want to participate.
Golden Melody Awards Postponed For 2020
In what sounds like an overly optimistic projection, the 31st Golden Melody Awards – often called the Grammys of the Mandopop music scene – has been postponed rather than canceled this year.
The GMAs are the property of Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture and celebrate music made in Mandarin and other Chinese dialects.
The awards were originally set to take place this summer, but the ministry now says the ceremony will be in October, though the actual date and venue have yet to be decided.
Nominations will be announced in July. However, this year’s Golden Melody Festival, an international event featuring conventions, talk shows and concerts that welcomes musicians and industry professionals from all over the world to Taiwan, and which is usually held in conjunction with the awards, will be cancelled this year.
Japanese Venues Get Support Through Website
Small concert venue support in Japan received a substantial boost on April 19 with the launch of the Music Unites Against COVID-19 website, which was put into place by the popular postrock indie band toe.
The band said that it is important to preserve the intricate network of Japanese clubs and “live houses” because, for many musicians in Japan, they are their only source of income.
According to Spincoaster about 120 venues have joined the project. Fans are encouraged to donate money to their favorite businesses through the website.
It is assumed that many of the venues that were compelled to close with the state of emergency declared by the central government may never open again, but some could be able to wait it out with a combination of public and private monetary support.
Though the central government has pledged support for small businesses, in the beginning, at least, so-called after-hours entertainment businesses were not included, but that may change in the near future.
In any case, the organizers of Music Unites Against COVID-19 are trying to be proactive in getting regular patrons to step up and save their favorite venues. The website steers viewers to specific venues’ websites where they can select an amount of money they want to contribute.
After making a donation, the viewer can then access a music folder with songs from various acts participating in the project. So far, about 70 acts have contributed songs, including Mono, OOIOO, Number Girl and Mouse on the Keys.