Asia News: Twice Comes To Nissan Stadium; Casino Rejected; Boy Band Rampage; Ticket Record; Summer Sonic Expands

TWICE IS FIRST: South Korean girl group “Twice” will be the first female K-pop group to perform at Nissan Stadium near Tokyo when they take the stage in July. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)


K-pop’s Twice To Play Nissan Stadium

K-pop group Twice will be the first foreign female artist to perform at Nissan Stadium in Kanagawa Prefecture, just west of Tokyo, in July 2024. The group’s Japan tour will also take them to Yanmar Stadium Nagai in Osaka.

Both venues are soccer stadiums and Nissan holds 70,000-75,000 people, making it one of Japan’s biggest.

The only other K-pop group that has performed at Nissan Stadium is the all-male TVXQ in 2013. Twice is also slated to release a Japanese studio album next summer.

Kyushu Resort Casino Plan Rejected

The Japanese government rejected on Dec. 27 a plan for a casino resort to be built in Nagasaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu in Western Japan.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism had been studying the plan for the integrated resort since April and concluded, according to Kyodo news agency, that the project’s funding was not feasible.

The resort was to be built at the Dutch-themed Huis Ten Bosch seaside resort.
The developers of the plan predicted that a casino would draw 8.4 million visitors a year and $2.3 billion in economic benefits to the area.

Boy Band Flirting With Fascism?

A Japanese pop group has drawn fire for flirting with fascistic flavors. The boy band The Rampage performed its latest single, “Soldier Love,” on a popular TV music show Dec. 22 in black uniforms and employing choreography including synchronized salutes that mimicked those adopted by the Nazis in the 1930s.

In addition, the lyrics to the song include references to “redrawing maps” and “divine winds,” the literal term for Japanese “kamikaze” suicide pilots who attacked Allied vessels at the end of World War II.

Following the negative response, according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, the group’s management company released a statement saying, “We sincerely apologize to those who felt upset or offended by the song’s lyrics and choreography.” The company pledged to change the lyrics, even though the song had already been released on streaming platforms.


Interpark Ticket Sets Record

South Korea’s Interpark Ticket platform set a record for transactions in 2023, reports the Korea Herald. Sales exceeded 1 trillion won ($772 million) from January through Dec. 23. Interpark is the country’s first e-commerce platform.

The revenue represents an 18% increase over sales in 2022, which also broke the record at the time, owing mainly to the fact that the number of productions for which tickets were sold reached 18,954 in 2023, also a record and 5% more than the number in 2019 before the pandemic.

An Interpark official attributed the large numbers to “a rapid recovery of the industry in 2023.” Demand was centered on stage musicals and concerts.

Among the former, the biggest sales were for the Asian premiere of “Moulin Rouge,” a U.S. production of “Chicago,” and various Korean adaptations of popular Western musicals. Among the concerts were shows by Bruno Mars and local rapper Psy.


Debating ‘Tensions’ And Taylor Swift

During a Jan. 1 debate among candidates for vice president in the Taiwan elections set for Jan. 13, the nominee of the Kuomintang party, Jaw Shau-kong, said that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s “cross-Taiwan Strait policy was increasing tensions in the region,” according to the website Focus Taiwan.

As proof, Jaw, former chairman of the Broadcasting Corporation of China, said that he had invited Taylor Swift to hold a concert at the new Taipei Dome, which opened in November. At first, said Jaw, Swift had agreed, but later changed her mind “citing geopolitical risks.”

No media outlet has been able to confirm Jaw’s claim, but the Ministry of Culture disputed it, saying that many Western artists have held concerts in Taiwan since the end of the pandemic, and that even more are planning to play there in 2024. The ministry added “it hoped candidates nominated by [the Koumintang party] will support efforts to organize shows featuring international artists.”

The Politics Of Lip Syncing

Taiwanese intelligence officials said in late December that China’s investigation into allegations that the Taiwan rock band Mayday engaged in lip-syncing during their 2023 China tour was politically motivated, according to a report from CNN.

A fan reportedly submitted proof online that Mayday lip-synced songs during a performance in Shanghai. Lip-syncing during a public performance or broadcast is against the law in China and punishable by a fine.

In Mayday’s case, the group would also be banned from performing in China, where they are very popular, if found guilty. Mayday and its label have repeatedly denied the allegation.

During a press briefing, the intelligence officials, who asked reporters not to name them, claimed that Chinese authorities pressured the band for months “to publicly declare that both China and Taiwan belong to the same country” during interactions with fans, according to CNN’s report.

The pressure allegedly began with the start of Mayday’s China tour in May 2023, when the Chinese Communist Party coordinated with state media to give rise to allegations of lip-syncing. The officials said that it was the first time Chinese officials had targeted Taiwanese artists in such a way. Later, China dismissed the officials’ claims as “fake news” generated by the government of Taiwan.


Summer Sonic Comes To Bangkok

Japan’s Creativeman Productions announced it will stage a Bangkok edition of its popular Summer Sonic festival Aug. 24-25, one week after the Japan edition of the festival takes place simultaneously in Tokyo and Osaka.

The Thai edition will take place at the Impact Arena, Exhibition and Convention Center in Muang Thong Thani.

On the festival’s website, Creativeman CEO Naoki Shimizu wrote, “As another challenge in 2024, Summer Sonic will finally expand overseas. Nowadays, overseas festivals are spreading to various regions and achieving success, and Korean artists are active all over the world, so we are starting Summer Sonic Bangkok as a way for Japan to connect with the world through music.”