Asia News: JYP, Republic Expand; Ticketing Scams & Scalpers; Don’t Joke About China

2023 Hito Music Awards
HOT DOGGIN’ IT: Rapper MC HotDog (aka Chung Jen Yao) performs during the 2023 Hito Music Awards at Taipei Arena on June 3 in Taipei, Taiwan. (Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images)


JYP Expands Partnership With Republic Records

JYP Entertainment is expanding its strategic partnership with Republic Records, “the largest music label in the U.S.,” and the two companies will jointly introduce a new girl group to the global stage, according to report from South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

The expanded partnership will also include international distribution of artists and catalogs, A&R, marketing and business development.

JYP, one of the biggest names in K-pop, is mainly looking to boost the prospects for its acts, which include Twice, Stray Kids, Itzy, Nmixx and others, in the U.S. market.

The company linked up with Republic in 2020 for the main purpose of increasing Twice’s chances in the U.S., which has turned out to be a successful endeavor.

The all-girl group’s single, “Ready to Be,” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, and last year Stray Kids made it to No. 1 twice on the same chart with two EPs. These impressive showings translated to very successful world tours that included numerous stops in North America.

The girl group that the partnership envisions will be based on the classic K-pop “training system,” with auditions already underway in five U.S. cities starting last year. Presently the winners of those auditions are undergoing training from the founder of JYP, Park Jin-young, as well as other producers and choreographers.

Regarding the new linkup, JYP CEO Jimmy Jeong said in a statement, “The expansion of this partnership between these leading music companies will sculpt the next vision of K-pop, opening up a new chapter together.” Monte Lipman, founder of Republic, said, “We recognize the incredible opportunity to be at the forefront of the next K-pop explosion. The potential is limitless.”

Ticket Scams Net Prison Sentence

A Korean court has thrown the book at a 25-year-old man convicted of defrauding K-pop fans of a total of 230 million won ($174,000) through various concert ticket scams.

According to The Korea Times, the man, whose name was not disclosed, was given a five-year prison sentence by the Seoul Central District Court on June 1 for finding K-pop fans on social media who were trying to secure tickets to specific concerts and fan events and then promising to sell them tickets that he didn’t actually possess.

In some instances, victims allege, he demanded they provide “sexual services in exchange for the tickets.”

In handing down the sentence, the court said, “This kind of crime not only causes financial damage to individuals but also creates distrust in online trading, which is based on exchanges between strangers.”

The court arrived at the harsh sentence after considering the man’s previous convictions for similar fraud convictions. The Korea Times said that “he started to commit this crime the day he was released from prison for the previous offense.”


Anti-Scalping Laws Prove Difficult To Enforce

Four years after the Japanese government enacted an anti-scalping law, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper has found that many promoters and venues are having a hard time enforcing it.

Right after the law went into effect in June 2019, there were a number of arrests of scalpers who were trying to sell tickets to baseball games and concerts at highly inflated prices, but since then scalpers have managed to come up with schemes that make it more difficult to prevent them from selling the tickets they obtain.

In one example, the newspaper cited performances of the musical “Elisabeth” in the city of Fukuoka starting in January. Tickets had sold out as soon as they went on sale, and the theater had noticed that several were being resold online at prices of up to 30 times their face value.

After determining which seats had been resold, the holders were refused entry when they showed up and, of course, were angry, since they had paid the inflated price willingly. A representative of the theater told Asahi that they are now “reconsidering” the policy.

One theater in Tokyo had gone as far as publishing the seat numbers of scalped tickets on their official site to warn potential buyers to stay away lest they be refused entry, but it seems the theater has now abandoned this system because it became too hard for staff to enforce. “We were worn down mentally,” one theater executive said. “The workload for the process was too burdensome.”

That means the only way to prevent such problems is to nip it at the source, which now is online resale sites. One e-commerce marketplace, Mercari, has started using artificial intelligence to flag illegal tickets that appear on the site. When the system determines the tickets are improper, it deletes them from the site.

Scalpers have managed to sidestep these kinds of measures by blurring out the seat numbers on the tickets. One theater in western Japan has even reported that some tickets to its performances have been resold with “fake seat numbers.”

In the end, the most reliable method has been registering buyers’ names when the initial purchase is made and checking those names at the door, but the effectiveness of such a method relies on consumers understanding that such a system is in place.


CCP Jokes Are No Laughing Matter

A recent online article by the BBC’s China correspondent outlined in detail how a recent joke by a standup comic at the expense of the ruling Communist Party has reverberated throughout China’s entertainment industry.

The comedian in question has reportedly been detained and will likely receive a prison sentence for his joke after the company that represents him terminated his contract.

As a result, “China’s most famous comedy company” has not been able to put on shows in Beijing and Shanghai, with venues unwilling to book standup performances for the foreseeable future due to the presumed risk.

The fallout has also affected the music scene, according to the BBC, since “officials have decided that this also means all performances deemed too potentially edgy need to be reined in.”

Beijing’s live music scene is normally one of the few places where such edgy performances can be enjoyed, and for the most part the authorities don’t interfere, though the reporter explains that it may be due to their lack of understanding of what’s actually going on.

For sure, venues whose permits are not completely in order will be targeted, as well as foreigners who regularly play music in China. What’s particularly chilling is the almost arbitrary nature of the crackdown, since no official pronouncements have been made.

The reporter even had trouble getting quotes from club managers and the like, who felt it was too dangerous to talk about the matter. Consequently, no one really knows how long they have to lay low.