Asia News: Fuji Rock Goes Global; New Korean Arena; Singapore Eases Restrictions


Fuji Rock Again Includes Global Acts

Smash Corporation announced the first set of artists scheduled to appear at Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival at the end of July. It will be the first time in three years that the festival will include overseas acts after being canceled in 2020 and restricted to only Japan-resident musicians in 2021. The announcement was made on the company’s home page on April 1, about a month later than usual.

Bjork at Fuji Rock
Bjork performs onstage during Fuji Rock Festival 2017 on July 30, 2017 in Yuzawa, Japan. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

The headliners for July 30 and 31 will be, respectively, Jack White and Halsey. The headliner for July 29 will presumably be announced later. Other international artists slated to appear at the festival, which takes place, as usual, at the Naeba Ski Resort in the mountains of Niigata Prefecture, are Bonobo, Dawes, Hiatus Kaiyote, Foals, Arlo Parks, Black Pumas, Dinosaur Jr., Say Sue Me, Snail Mail, Mura Masa, Tom Misch, Altin Gun, Fontaines D.C., Japanese Breakfast and Superorganism.

The festival will maintain COVID countermeasures, including mandatory masks and temperature checks, as well as social distancing guidelines and a ban on shouting. So far there is no mention if alcohol will be prohibited on the grounds as it was last year.

The other major Japanese rock festival that features international artists, Summer Sonic, which takes place simultaneously in Tokyo and Osaka in the middle of August, has already announced some of its lineup. On March 29, the festival’s organizer, Creativeman Productions, announced the return of Sonicmania, the all-night rave that usually precedes the Tokyo leg of Summer Sonic. Among the artists scheduled to appear at Sonicmania on Aug. 19 are Primal Scream, Kasabian, The Human League and Denki Groove.

Creativeman also announced the return of Download Festival, which will take place at the Makuhari Messe convention center (one of the venues for the Tokyo end of Summer Sonic) on Aug. 14. No acts have been announced yet.


New K-Pop Arena

The Seoul Metropolitan Government and South Korea’s biggest IT company, Kakao, announced that they had signed an agreement to build the country’s “largest arena dedicated to staging K-pop performances,” according to the Korea Herald newspaper.

Construction of the Seoul Arena venue, which will hold between 19,000 and 28,000 people, is to begin in June and end in October 2025, or about one year after the completion of the CJ LiveCity Arena, another Seoul-situated K-pop concert venue being built by media heavyweight CJ ENM and AEG. They claim their venue will hold between 20,000 and 40,000 people, so there’s some dispute over whose project is the “largest.” For one thing, AEG predicts 20 million visitors a year, while Kakao projects 1.8 million annually for its arena.

Kakao’s will also be a complex of venues, including a main arena specially set up for music. There is also a midsized concert hall with a maximum capacity of 7,000.

The Seoul government says the complex will cost about $257 million to build, and that Kakao would finance 97 percent of it. Kakao will also oversee the complex’s “design, construction, operation and maintenance.” As part of the complex’s operations, Kakao will also run an associated business to “nurture aspiring artists” by helping them secure studios and concert venues to promote their work.

Korea Herald also reports that Kakao is becoming more aggressive about its entry into Korea’s mainstream entertainment content business. There have been rumors that it may attempt a takeover of SM Entertainment, one of the country’s biggest K-pop agencies and producers.

The company’s subsidiary, Kakao Entertainment, has already “[taken] over multiple agencies, labels and studios.” If Kakao takes over SM Entertainment, it would become the second biggest entertainment company in South Korea.


Nightlife Restrictions Eased

The government of Singapore has extended its relaxation of COVID measures to nightlife, paving the way for nightclubs in the city-state to reopen fully. Starting April 19, most COVID regulations will be lifted.

However, clubs with dancing will still have to follow some rules: Patrons need to bring a negative antigen rapid test signed by a test provider approved by the Ministry of Health and masks must be worn for indoor venues.

Moreover, any venue that admits more than 1,000 people at a time must limit attendance to 75% of capacity. No limit is imposed if attendance is below 1,000. Channel NewsAsia reports that the changes come about after several months of pilot programs.