Asia News: Korean Outdoor Masking Eased; Download Fest Returns; Chu Kosaka Dies


Some Outdoor Mask Mandates Lifted

The South Korean government lifted most of its outdoor mask mandates on May 2 as daily infection numbers continued to drop in the country.

However, outdoor events that include more than 50 people, including “rallies, concerts and sports [events],” will still require attendees to wear masks, according to a Reuters report.

In addition, in places where “it is difficult to maintain a distance of more than one meter” between individuals for “more than 15 minutes,” masks are “recommended.”

According to various South Korean media outlets, however, most people still seemed to be wearing masks outside after the mandate was lifted.


Download Fest Returns

Download Festival returns to Japan Aug. 14 for the first time since 2019, when the rock event debuted.

Creativeman Productions and Live Nation are jointly promoting the festival, which so far features Dream Theater, Bullet For My Valentine, Mastodon, Steel Panther, At the Gates and the Halo Effect. It takes place at the Makuhari Messe International Exhibition Center in Chiba, just outside of Tokyo. Tickets for Japanese residents went on sale April 28, but international tickets won’t go on sale until May 11 Japan time.

The headliners for the inaugural Download Festival in 2019 were Slayer, Arch Enemy and Sum 41, and though a 2020 edition featuring My Chemical Romance was announced, it never took place due to the pandemic.

Chu Kosaka during Taylor Guitars 31st Anniversary Celebration – “Life on the Fretboard” at O-East in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jun Sato/WireImage)

Chu Kosaka Dies At 73

One of the founders of Japanese rock, Chu Kosaka, died April 29 at the age of 73. The cause was reported as cancer.

Kosaka started with the band, The Floral, in 1968 and subsequently formed the group Apryl Fool with Haruomi Hosono, who later led the pioneering J-rock band Happy End as well as the proto-electronic group Yellow Magic Orchestra.

Kosaka is probably best known for his best-selling 1975 solo album, Horo, which included input from the soul group Tin Pan Alley and legendary producer Masataka Matsutoya, who is often credited with pioneering so-called New Music, which eventually led to the genre called City Pop.


Easing Rules Brings Some Relief To Live

Live music has made a comeback in Singapore following the relaxing of rules for music venues.

According to Channel News Asia, the relatively “small” live music industry in the city-state has suffered during the past two years as the government enacted strict rules banning most in-person performances, with local musicians practically giving up on their careers in the meantime.

The main recourse was to perform online, but that was mainly available only to bands with connections to companies that could monetize online concerts.

Everyone else was on their own, and most had to relearn everything from scratch.
Even big-name stars were resorting to online shows that monopolized audiences willing to pay for them.

Then there was Singapore’s lack of a “tipping culture,” since much of the revenue that artists earn from online shows is derived from gratuities.

Invariably, many Singapore musicians were forced to take up different forms of work, such as teaching or playing small weddings, though many were compelled to leave the business altogether and enter non-entertainment lines of work.

Consequently, while the lifiting of restrictions has been met with relief, many local musicians are not coming back to the business.

Nevertheless, some industry insiders remain cautious. A number of prominent chains had to close outlets that won’t reopen, and the COVID situation in Southeast Asia remains precarious.