Asia News: Second Sejong Center Plans Unveiled; State Concert Guidelines Updated

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People arrive to watch a music concert of K-Pop Black Pink in Jakarta on March 12, 2023. (Photo by ADEK BERRY / AFP) (Photo by ADEK BERRY/AFP via Getty Images)


Second Sejong Center Plans Unveiled

Seoul will reportedly build a second Sejong Center for the Performing Arts on the banks of the Han River as part of the capital’s urban improvement plans. The new auditorium will be inspired by the Elbphilarmonie in Hamburg, Germany, which is also located on a river, The Korea Herald reports.

The concert hall will contain restaurants and recreational facilities, and should be completed sometime in 2026.

Comprising a 2,000-seat theater and smaller 400-seat theater, the complex has already stirred controversy after local authorities changed the proposed location from one neighborhood to another one without consulting local residents.

There is also confusion as to who will actually own the land on which the $250 million concert hall is being built.

The plan for the complex states that Yeongdeungpo-gu Ward grant the land to the municipal government for free. The previous site was owned by the ward, but the new site is in Yeouido Park, which is actually owned by the municipal government.

Both sites are within Yeongdeungpo-gu Ward, which wanted to use the previous site for a “cultural center” that serves the ward’s residents. When the site was changed to Yeouido Park, residents were upset because they thought they were losing out on a facility that was going to be built for them.

Consequently, there is a movement to bring the project back to the previous site. The Seoul Municipal Government has said that the previous site was unacceptable because it is “surrounded by apartment complexes” thus making it inappropriate for a large concert hall.


State Concert Guidelines Updated

Malaysia’s Ministry of Communications and Digital published new concert guidelines on the official portal of the Central Agency for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artists (PUSPAL), according to Channel News Asia. It is the first time the guidelines have been updated since 2019.

Some restrictions have been tightened and others relaxed. Among the former is the dress code for male foreign artists, who are now prohibited from “dressing up and wearing clothes that cause them to resemble women.”

Scheduling has also been regulated. Large-scale concerts and live performances by foreign acts cannot take place the night before or during Islamic holidays specified in the guidelines unless given special dispensation by “respective Islamic authorities.” In line with this prohibition, no concerts can take place during the holy month of Ramadan.

PUSPAL loosened the blackout date rules for concerts and large-scale events. Previously, such events were prohibited between Aug. 25 and Sept. 16, when Malaysia celebrates its independence. Under the new guidelines, the restricted period is reduced to Aug. 30-31, and Sept. 15-16.

The government plans another round of guidelines to be announced in December that will address the quality of concerts in the area of proper seating and facilities.
The new guidelines will go into effect next year, and, according to the website Free Malaysia Today, some “entertainment industry stakeholders” are quite concerned about their impact. One insider says that reducing the number of days when concerts can take place will affect not only the entertainment industry, but also related sectors including tourism.

Meeting with some of these industry leaders on March 16, the communications and digital minister acknowledged the “multiplier effect” that concerts and events have on Malaysia’s economy and tried to address the industry’s concerns, which principally had to do with the wording of the guidelines, such as what constitutes a “large” gathering and the definition of “cross-dressing.”

One organizer, Livescape Group, pointed out that such vagueness will “slow down the process of organizing concerts.” The company also expressed worry over whether foreign artists would balk at including Malaysia on their Asian tours once they read the guidelines.