Asia News: Arashi, BTS & More
Arashi Concert Scheduled For November
A major concert by Japan’s biggest boy band, Arashi, that was supposed to happen in May will finally take place on Nov. 3, according to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.
The original concert was designed to “set the mood” for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, and would take place in the new National Stadium built expressly for the Games, which were supposed to start in July but have been postponed until next summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Nov. 3 concert will also take place in the new National Stadium, albeit without an audience. It will also be prerecorded and streamed. Arashi is scheduled to go on hiatus at the end of 2020, though the group may have something to do with the 2020 Olympics if and when the games finally takes place.
BTS Holds Livestream, Prompts Boycott In China
South Korea’s biggest boy band, BTS, held another online concert on Oct. 10-11 that attracted almost 1 million viewers from 191 countries, according to the Yonhap news agency.
The BTS Map of the Soul ON:E took place in Seoul and was originally set to be performed in front of a live audience. However, due to spikes in COVID cases in recent weeks in South Korea, the audience component was called off several weeks ago.
In order to compensate for the lack of a crowd, the band’s management company, Big Hit, introduced the “Army on air” system, which allowed the group’s most dedicated fans, known as the Army, to “join” the concert from the comfort of their homes. Faces of some fans were shown on screens that lined the back of the stage during the performance so that BTS could interact directly with fans and hear their screams in real time.
As with BTS’s previous online concert, which took place in June, viewers could watch the concert from any of six different angles in 4K and HD. The previous show attracted 756,000 viewers from 107 countries.
In other BTS news, the band is now the subject of a boycott in China due to comments made during an Oct. 7 ceremony sponsored by the New York-based Korea Society, which honored the group for improving Korea-U.S. relations.
At one point, BTS member Kim Nam-joon, better known by his stage monker RM, said in reference to the Korean War, “We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together, and the sacrifices of countless men and women,” according to a report in the New York Times.
The other nation RM was referring to was obviously the U.S. Apparently, Chinese fans of the group and others in China were offended since some 180,000 Chinese soldiers also died in the war, according to Chinese records.
As a result, the band has now been effectively removed from the Chinese internet, including prominent promotional advertisements for a smartphone made by Korean company Samsung that is sold in China, as well as ads for the sportswear company Fila, for which BTS has been a brand ambassador since last year. In addition, Hyundai Motor Group removed references to BTS from its Chinese social media accounts.
Chinese media played up the rift, with one nationalist publication saying that the comment showed a “one-sided attitude” and ignored history, even though China fought alongside South Korea’s longtime enemy during the Korean War.
Other media reports highlighted the notion that RM’s remark was basically innocuous in that he was speaking about Koreans and Americans at an event attended by Koreans and Americans and wouldn’t normally be expected to mention other participants in the conflagration.
At any event, some wondered if the faux pas affected the initial public offering of BTS’s management company, Big Hit Entertainment, which was launched the next day and, in the eyes of investors, came up short.
The number of shares bought, according to Bloomberg, was far less than expected, though the IPO did raise about $830 million, making it the largest in South Korea this year. Institutional investors, apparently, felt that the stock was valued too high, especially given that the seven members of BTS, which accounted for 97.4 percent of Big Hit’s sales last year, will soon reach the age when they will have to carry out their mandatory two-year military service. Losing the band for two years could have a serious effect on Big Hit’s bottom line.
Japanese Casinos Further Delayed
Japan’s ambitions to be the next big gambling hub in Asia have hit another snag. Currently, cities that want to host so-called integrated resorts with casinos must submit their bids by July 2021, but thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the deadline has been postponed for one year.
Though the government has already approved the authorization of casino gambling and the issuing of licenses, it is for the time being only entertaining three possible locations, which, in addition to submitting bids for the chance to build IRs, must also provide the government with development plans.
By pushing the bidding process even further into the future, the government may be inadvertently discouraging foreign companies from getting involved in the project, since it will delay construction and eventual openings by at least another year. Last summer, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which had been enthusiastic about cooperating on an IR, decided to cancel its plans for participating.
The three cities with the best chances of winning the initial bidding are Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama, but some smaller cities are also planning to submit offers.
Tokyo Live House Closes
Garden, one of Tokyo’s most beloved “live house” concert venues, which opened for business in 2009, announced that it would be closing on Oct. 18.
With a maximum capacity of 500 people, the club was the largest in the Shimokitazawa district of the capital, which is famous for live music and college-age cultural events. The president of the company that has run Garden since 2011 told the Nikkei newspaper, “We decided to close because negotiations with the leaseholder had broken down, mainly due to the effects of the coronavirus crisis.”
Garden was considered one of the premier showcases for Japanese indie acts in the country over the last decade, but also occasionally hosted foreign bands.
Though some venues have resorted to live streaming to pay the bills for the time being, Garden was still dedicated to live shows, which have gradually been coming back in Tokyo and elsewhere, albeit with restrictions. Garden’s president said that he will move the brand to an underground live space attached to the nearby Kunitachi Music Academy starting Oct. 25.
One Love Asia Delayed In Singapore
To no one’s surprise, the Singapore edition of the One Love Asia Festival has been postponed for one year, from Nov. 7-8 this year to Oct. 16-17, 2021. Along with a change in dates, the festival will also feature a new lineup. Originally, the roster included Goo Goo Dolls, Greyson Chance, Taiwanese singer Show Lo, Japanese singer-songwriter Naoto Inti Raymi, and two Thai bands, Potato and Klear. They will be replaced by South Korean star BoA, as well as half a dozen well-known acts from Malaysia, Taiwan, China and Singapore.
Tickets are already sold out for the second day of the festival and organizers have urged fans to hold on to them since no new tickets will go on sale for that date. Some tickets for the first day, however, will go on sale this month. The organizer, IMC, said the postponement was made because of the pandemic and its effect on international travel, not to mention Singapore’s stricter regulations for public events.
Incheon Rock Festival Plows Ahead
According to the Korea Herald, the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival, which usually takes place at the height of summer at Songdo Moonlight Festival Park in Incheon, will have an edition this year, and it will be the weekend of Oct. 16-17.
Predictably, it will take place online, but the organizers insist it will be “live,” starting at 3 p.m. each day.
Even better, it will be free of charge. Even better, it will be headlined each day by a major Western rock band: Travis on Oct. 16 and Deafheaven on Oct. 17. All the other acts are Korean and include Jaurim, Guckkasten, Nell and Galaxy Express. There will also be local hip-hop acts and artists performing traditional Korean music. Each day, 300 selected fans will join in a videoconference to talk about the festival. The festival is being streamed on the KBS K-pop channel and the K YouTube channel.