Asia News: Johnny’s, Seoul Clubs, VR Theme Park

Johnny’s Cancels All Concerts 
photo by Eurotuber via Wikipedia
– Johnny’s & Associates Headquarters In Tokyo

Johnny’s and Associates, one of Japan’s biggest talent agencies and entertainment production companies, announced that it was cancelling all concerts of its artists scheduled until Feb. 7 in line with a new state of emergency implemented by the central government for Tokyo and surrounding prefectures, where COVID-19 infections have surged in recent weeks. 

In late December, the company had already cancelled concerts of its artists that were scheduled for January. 
The cancellations affect arena tours by boy bands Travis Japan (no relation to the Scottish rock group) and SixTONES (pronounced “Stones”). No announcement has yet been made if the shows will be rescheduled. 
Seoul Clubs Continue Shuttering
According to the Korea Times, Evans Lounge, a live music venue that has been presenting indie rock and jazz concerts since 2011, closed its doors “for good” on Jan. 4 as a result of the greatly diminished live music scene in Seoul since the COVID crisis hit South Korea. 
A message posted on the venue’s Instagram account reads, “We express our deepest gratitude to the musicians and audiences who brightened our venue. We hope we can meet again at a better time in the future.” Apparently, the owner of Evans Lounge had been forced to use its security deposit on rent since last August, and as a new wave of infections hit the capital this winter it became impossible to remain solvent. 
The newspaper says that Evans Lounge joins a number of other popular indie clubs that have closed permanently in recent months in the Hongdae district of Seoul, including MUV Hall, V-Hall, Queen Live Hall and DGBD, most of which opened in the early 2000s, when the local indie scene first caught fire. The Korea Times also listed other clubs that have closed in other parts of the city, including the jazz venue Once in a Blue Moon, located in a high-rent area of Seoul, which ceased operations after 22 years in business; and GBN Live House, located in the  metalworking district of southwestern Seoul and which specialized in “extreme metal and punk.”
The Record Label Industry Association of Korea estimates that the music industry lost about $1.8 million in revenues due to 416 cancelled indie concerts since last February. One concert organizer told the newspaper, “The Hongdai indie scene has been serving as an incubator for the entire music industry. It gave chances for indie musicians to perform and get used to performing, which later becomes a source of confidence and allows them to become bigger musicians in the future. Famous bands such as Hyukoh and BOL4 used to perform in Hongdae when they debuted and became more popular after that.”
Industry people have asked the government to ease social distancing guidelines in order to “save the music scene,” but with recent infection spikes the government has decided to double down on regulations. Music insiders think the rules are lopsided against them. As one musician pointed out to the Korea Times, “Under current…distancing rules, venues for performing arts such as plays and musicals, as well as movie theaters, must leave two empty seats between occupied ones, but live music venues that are standing only, which describes most indie concert halls, have no choice but to shut down. It’s not fair. We hope the government will ease guidelines for those venues to help the indie music scene.”
In related news, the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper reports that South Korean opera houses are actually gearing up for 2021 by trying to adapt to the straitened situation. The Daegu Opera House plans to stage a production of “L’Elisir d’Amore”” originally scheduled for last year, from January 28 to 30, as well as eight performance of “Carmen” in April. The Seoul Metropolitan Opera House announced it will put on a production of “Romeo and Juliet” in March, and the Korea National Opera is planning five productions in 2021 after having limited its activities to regional theaters in 2020. The Seoul Arts Center and the National Theater of Korea have also announced productions for 2021. 

China Sees First 5G VR Theme Park
Chinese media reports that the VR entertainment company Sky Limit Entertainment has designed the world’s first 5G virtual reality theme park in the city of Liuzhou in the Guangxi Autonomous Region in south China. Using a technology called extended reality (XR), the new park offers guests a variety of experiences in exploring the unique culture of the region. 
Visitors wear special AR headsets to enjoy simulation games and rides, including parachute drops and skiing. 
The Chinese government, which is positive about developing both its domestic tourist industry and a leading role in VR technology, already opened the VR Star Theme Park in Nanchang in 2019, which contains three floors and more than 40 simulators, including roller coasters and car races. 
Most VR facilities outside of China are part of larger resort venues, whereas in China they are self-contained “amusement parks” completely dedicated to VR. The Liuzhou facility is different in that it incorporates cutting edge 5G connectivity.