Asia News: MGM Casino, Megadeth Reunites With Guitarist, Dylan Returns; Korea Fest Ticket Scam; Additions To Hong Kong’s Clockenflap

3 ASIA Friedman
MEGADETH REUNION: Guitarists Marty Friedman and Dave Mustaine (L) onstage in a previous incarnation of Megadeth, before Friedman left the band 23 years ago and moved permanently to Japan. Friedman will return to the fold when the band performs at Tokyo’s famed Budokan Hall Feb. 27. (Photo by Mick Hutson / Redferns)


MGM To Become Nation’s Sole Casino Operator?

During an investors’ event in early February, executives of MGM Resorts International implied that the company may become the only licensed casino operator in Japan when planned construction of an integrated resort is completed in Osaka Bay.

According to Akihabara News, in the opening presentation for the event, MGM President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle said, “We’re extremely excited for the [return on investment] opportunity in a market in which we may be the sole operator for some time in the future.”

Later on, during a Q&A session, he elaborated by saying, “I’m excited to think that we may be the only player. And so, instead of a market of 19 million people, we’re talking about a much larger market.”

By “19 million” he was obviously referring to the Kansai region, of which Osaka is the main city. The “larger market” is Japan itself, which contains 125 million people.

In analyzing the remarks, Akihabara News concluded that MGM expects the central government of Japan to fully approve its application to operate the IR in Osaka. In addition, the remarks also suggest that Casinos Austria International’s application to run a casino resort in Nagasaki Prefecture to the southwest of Osaka will be turned down, thus leaving MGM as the only player on the archipelago, at least for the time being.

The problem is that there is not indication of when the government will address the licensing applications, and given construction delays and other obstacles that have befallen the project ever since casino gambling was legalized in Japan, the Osaka IR may not open until the “early 2030s,” which would push it way past the Osaka Expo, which takes place in 2025 and for which the local government hoped to have the IR up and running.

Marty Friedman, Megadeth Reunion Set

As has already been announced, former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman will reunite with his old band on Feb. 27 when the thrash metal veterans make their debut at Japan’s fabled Budokan Hall in Tokyo.

It will be the first time Friedman, who moved to Japan permanently in 2003, has played
with Megadeth in 23 years. The show will be livestreamed worldwide.

In addition, Friedman will be touring North America on his own starting in March, both in support of the band Queensryche and as a headliner himself. They mark Friedman’s first planned performances in the U.S. since 2019.

Since moving to Japan, Friedman has released several albums of J-pop covers and appeared frequently as a commentator on talk and variety shows. In 2016, he was named a Japan Heritage Ambassador.

Dylan Gets Rough And Rowdy

Bob Dylan will resume his ongoing “Rough and Rowdy Ways” tour in Japan this spring.
The tour will take in Festival Hall in Osaka April 6-8, Tokyo Garden Theater April 11-16 and the Aichi Arts Center in Nagoya April 18-20.

It will be Dylan’s first concerts in Japan since 2016. He had previously been slated to play a
dozen nights in Japan in 2020 but had to cancel because of the pandemic.


Beware Fest World Tour Scam

Several South Korean entertainment companies posted warnings Feb. 3 to fans of K-pop groups they represent about a fraudulent event called Fest World Tour that was using the names of those groups.

Advertisements for the tour claimed that NCT Dream, Seventeen, Enhyphen, Mirae and others would perform together in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailan and South Korea in 2023 and 2024.

Pledis Entertainment and SM Entertainment announced that their artists are not participating in the event and that they plan to take legal action against the “unauthorized use of their artists’ names,” according to the K-pop fan site Sportskeeda. Other agencies whose artists’ names were also mentioned in the ads subsequently made similar announcements. Pledis urged anyone who had already purchased tickets for the event to request a refund immediately.

Later, online users started communicating the news that the so-called official site for the event had been deactivated. Though Sportskeeda did not name the entity that was responsible for the site, some netizens claimed that it wasn’t the first “scam” the “account” had been involved with.

National Symphony Orchestra Marks Milestone

The Korea National Symphony Orchestra marked its first anniversary since the ensemble changed its name from Korea Symphony Orchestra after it was officially appointed as South Korea’s national symphony.

Though the group had unofficially been the state orchestra since 2001 as it accompanied state-run theater groups like the Korea National Ballet and the Korean National Opera, and received about 70% of its annual budget from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, it was never authorized by the government as the national symphony until last year.

According to the Joongang Daily newspaper, orchestra CEO Choi Jung-sook told reporters at a Seoul news conference that taking on the mantle of a “national orchestra” has instilled in its members a sense of responsibility in terms of “social contribution.”

Also on hand was the orchestra’s new artistic director, Daniel Reiland, who announced that he and the ensemble would release an album later in the year. “We’ll select important works from Korea’s history and development of its music,” said Reiland, “and they will include, of course, renowned Korean composers’ works, ranging from Isan Yun to Unsuk Chin and other composers we discover along the way.” The purpose of the album will be to expose these composers to the rest of the world.

Reiland also said that the orchestra will hire 16 more musicians. Currently, there are 78.


More International Acts To Clockenflap

Hong Kong’s largest international music festival, Clockenflap, has announced more acts for its return event March 3-5 at the Central Harbourfront.

In addition to already announced headliners Arctic Monkeys, the festival will feature Wu-Tang Clan, The Cardigans, Bombay Bicycle Club, Black Country, New Road, Chai, Sasha Alex Sloan, Julia Wu and many others.

Tickets purchased for previous festivals that were cancelled due to the pandemic but retained will be honored at this year’s festival.