Asia News: Johnny Kitagawa Abuse Charges, HYBE Chairman Cites Slowdown, Suga ARMY Presales, Jay Chou Sellouts

3 ASIA JChou
CLEAN SWEEP: Jay Chou, shown at Nanjing Olympic Sports Center in the Jiangsu Province of China in 2019, sold out nine shows in 30 seconds at the onsale for his first appearances in China in three years. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)


BBC Documentary Focuses On Kitagawa Abuse Charges

The BBC broadcast a documentary March 7 about the late J-pop impresario Johnny Kitagawa, which mostly delved into Kitagawa’s alleged sexual abuse of many of his charges.

Johnny and Associates is one of Japan’s biggest talent agencies, representing a large stable of boy bands and solo male idols that dominate not only Japanese record charts and concert tours, but television, films and publishing.

Kitagawa, who died in 2019, is still revered as a media and showbiz king in Japan despite reports in non-mainstream media about his sexual abuse of boys and young men who work for him.

Some years ago, Kitagawa sued one publication for defamation and lost in court, with the judge deciding that what the publication said was true.

Though the BBC’s report did not differ substantially from these previous articles about Kitagawa, it did manage to get several former Johnny’s idols (mainly backup dancers) to go on the record about the abuse.

Though the documentary made headlines worldwide, in Japan discussion of it was limited to social media, with mainstream outlets virtually ignoring it.

As the BBC says in the piece, Japanese news outlets belong to wide-ranging media companies that have stakes in Johnny and Associates’ business and thus are loath to upset the company – even after Kitagawa’s death – lest they are denied access to Johnny’s talent.


HYBE Chairman Claims K-Pop Slowdown

In an interview with CNN, Bang Si-hyk, the chairman of HYBE, the entertainment company behind K-pop juggernaut BTS, said that one of the reasons his company seeks to acquire a large stake in its main competitor SM Entertainment, is that he does not anticipate much domestic growth in the K-pop industry, even though the international media has become very interested in Korean pop music, thanks mainly to the popularity of BTS.

Bang believes that greater global exposure is needed, particularly for streaming, and thus he is trying to secure more deals overseas, as he did when he acquired Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings in 2021 and, more recently, the hip-hop powerhouse Quality Control.

Bang does not think that BTS members’ entering their mandatory South Korean military service right now has anything to do with the slowdown, though he doesn’t pinpoint any one cause.

He also refuted accusations that his quest to acquire a larger share of SM is to create a K-pop monopoly, which has become one of the biggest news stories in South Korea.

Suga ARMY Presales Hit Snag

Presales for tickets to the upcoming solo concert tour of BTS’s Suga started on March 1 for ARMYs, which is what BTS fan club members are called.

ARMYs were given a special membership access code to reserve tickets, but many apparently had trouble getting into the presale site and started blaming embattled Ticketmaster on social media. In addition, many fans complained of prices much higher than expected.

Ticketmaster had already issued a warning on Feb. 27 that it “expected…many interested fans will not be able to get tickets” because of the anticipated overwhelming response.

General tickets were to go on sale after the ARMY presale was finished, but Ticketmaster also cautioned fans that having a presale code would not guarantee availability.

Entertainment site Opoyi reports that on the day of the presale there was “allegedly complete chaos on the [ticket] site and supporters flocked to social media to protest Ticketmaster for the outrageous ticket costs.”


Jay Chou Sells Out Quickly

Taiwan superstar Jay Chou announced he would tour mainland China for the first time in three years. His fans knew it would be difficult to secure tickets, but they didn’t know just how difficult.

As it turned out, the first nine shows of the tour, which covered four cities in China, were sold out in 30 seconds after going on sale, and, as feared, many tickets were snagged by scalpers who then started selling them online at grossly inflated prices. Tickets that initially cost 500 yuan ($70) were going for 2,000 yuan ($280), with front row tickets as high as 28,000 yuan.

The grief got worse. One Beijing magazine, Caijing, reported that flights to one of the cities on the tour, Haikou, were overbooked for the pertinent dates and hotels near the venue were charging up to four times their usual price for rooms.