Asia News: Johnny & Assoc. Replaced By Starto; Blackpink Extends Deal; Jay Chou Goes Global

Investitures 2023
King Charles III presents the members of the K-Pop band Blackpink, (L-R) Rose (Roseanne Park), Jisoo Kim, Jennie Kim, and Lisa (Lalisa Manoban), with Honorary MBEs (Member of the Order of the British Empire) during a special investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London Nov. 22. (Photo by Victoria Jones – Pool/Getty Images)


Starto Entertainment To Replace Johnny & Associates

A Japanese talent management company called Starto Entertainment Inc. will begin operations in the spring as a replacement for the powerful entertainment company Johnny & Associates, according to the website Japan Today.

For most of the year, Johnny & Associates has been rocked by a sex abuse scandal after a number of the agency’s former charges came forward in the wake of a shocking BBC documentary to say they were sexually assaulted by the company’s founder, Johnny Kitagawa, over a span of decades.

The new company name, Starto, was selected from 140,000 suggestions submitted by fans. In Japanese, the name means “With Stars.” The new CEO of the company will be Atsushi Fukuda, an executive with the consulting company Speedy Inc. and a former vice president at Sony Pictures Entertainment (Japan). Operations will begin fully in April.

The purpose of the new company is to manage the talent, most of whom comprise idol singing groups, that used to work for Johnny’s and have decided to stay with the basic organization.

Johnny & Associates itself changed its name in October to Smile-Up Inc., but its sole activity now is to “provide redress to [Kitagawa’s] sexual abuse victims.” As of November, 478 individuals claimed to have been victims of Kitagawa, with 325 seeking compensation, though so far only 150 have been confirmed to have actually belonged to the company.


Blackpink Extends YG Entertainment Contract

After several months of anxious waiting, fans of the top K-pop girl group Blackpink were relieved to hear that all four members have extended their contract as a group with YG Entertainment.

The group’s previous seven-year contract with the agency expired in August, and, according to Yonhap news agency the four members — Rose, Lisa, Jisoo and Jennie — have been negotiating with the company ever since.

In a press statement, YG said, “The board has completed a resolution about renewing the contracts with Blackpink’s four members. After careful discussion, we have renewed the contracts with Blackpink members for their group activities based on deep trust.” As a result, YG will continue to manage the group’s “music, concerts and promotional activities.”

K-Link Festival Promotes Tourism

As part of Visit Korea Year, a tourism campaign jointly promoted by Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization, this year’s K-Link Festival took place Dec. 10 at Seoul’s Jamsil Arena.

Of the 7,000 tickets sold for the festival, 3,000 were purchased by overseas visitors including 1,700 from Japan, 900 from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan and 400 from Southeast Asia. These tickets were sold as part of travel package deals in foreign countries.

Nine K-pop acts performed at the festival, including BoA, Shinee and aespa, who spoke or sang in Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese during their performances.

At one point, BoA, a solo female K-pop singer who is perhaps even more popular in Japan than she is in Korea, told the audience, according to Korea JoongAng Daily, “I’ll keep trying so that foreign tourists may take continued interest in K-culture.”

The newspaper talked to several audience members from countries outside of Korea who approved of the campaign, which they said reflected an increasing interest in Korean culture worldwide.

The festival was also streamed live on the SBS Medianet YouTube channel, and will be aired again at least twice in the future.


Jerry Seinfeld’s Lone Asia Stop

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld will be taking a side trip from his Australian tour to perform one night only at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 14 next year, according to Yahoo News. It will be Seinfeld’s first time in Singapore and his only stop in Asia.

In a statement, Seinfeld said, “I saw recently that Singapore has some of the happiest people on earth by scientific study. So, I don’t imagine my comedy will be able to improve that by too much, but I’m really going to try. So excited for my first visit!”


Jay Chou Strikes Global Deal

Mandopop superstar Jay Chou has struck a partnership deal with Universal Music Greater China, which is a division of the Universal Music Group, reports China Daily.

The deal covers global marketing and distribution rights for Chou’s entire catalog as well as future projects. It also covers other talent who are signed to his record label, JVR Music.

As with many popular singers in the Chinese language music market, Chou is also a film star, and has even appeared in a number of Hollywood movies, including “The Green Hornet.”

He founded JVR Music in 2007 along with two partners, one of whom, JR Yang, said in a statement about the Universal deal, “This strategic partnership marks a new chapter for Jay Chou and JVR toward our vision of elevating Mandarin pop music globally. Leveraging UMG’s extensive global network enables us to amplify Chou’s artistic impact and the diversity of our artists on a global scale.”