Asia News: Scalping Crackdown Hits Fans; Bruno Mars Tix; Osaka World Expo

Singer IU Performs In Taiwan
TIME TO FIX TIX: Fans unable to score tickets for Korean singer/actress IU, seen here in a 2019 concert in Taipei, Taiwan, are increasingly angered by the country’s attempts to crack down on scalping, saying they’re being locked out of the process. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)


Scalping Crackdown Locks Out Some Fans

An “intensified crackdown on ticket scalping” has resulted in dedicated, legitimate fans of certain artists being inadvertently locked out of the concert ticketing processing, The Korea Times reports, and they’re not happy.

The anger was most evidently sparked when a fan of singer IU was banned from attending one of her sold-out concerts due to measures put in place to prevent the reselling of tickets bought by scalpers.

The anonymous fan went online to explain how he obtained a ticket to the concert using the proper channels. However, because of difficulties in paying for the ticket, the fan asked a friend to pay on his behalf.

As a result, the “ticket was flagged as being involved in illegal trading.” Not only was the fan unable to attend the concert, but he did not receive a refund and was “permanently expelled from IU’s fan club.”

IU’s agency, EDAM Entertainment, is one of the companies at the forefront of preventing illegal ticket trading, and other fans have come to the fore to say that it’s normal for people trying to obtain tickets for popular acts to seek the help of friends or family to carry out the process and that “such actions should not be deemed illegal.”

For instance, parents often pay for tickets for their children, especially if they are minors, but are thus required to bring special documents to the venue to prove they are related to the ticket buyer.

EDAM has since released a statement expressing regret over these incidents, as well as an apology. Later, EDAM said it would abolish many of the special measures it enacted to fight scalping, including a “reward system” for people who report fraudulent ticket transactions.

It is believed that the IU fan targeted for having a friend pay for his ticket was reported by a third party.

The Korea Times says that “the broader issue at hand is the growing complexity of the ticket reservation and identity verification processes,” which tend to be “overly cumbersome.”

The fact is, with the ever burgeoning appeal of K-pop, scalpers have found it easy to exploit this popularity for profit, and scalping is not necessarily on the wane.

The newspaper talked to a number of fans who said they felt they had no choice but to obtain tickets for their favorite artists from online scalpers because it has become nearly impossible to obtain them through the proper channels.

The situation has become especially severe since the end of the COVID pandemic. As a result, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has stiffened penalties against scalpers, including lengthy prison sentences for those convicted.

Industry leaders are not sure if that is enough, and in any case, as the president of the Record Label Industry Association of Korea pointed out, “In practical terms, pinpointing individual macro purchases made by anonymous scalpers is nearly impossible.”

For the most part, lottery systems used for ticket sales seem to be more effective in fighting scalping than the present method of first-come, first-served. Hybe, the company that represents BTS and Seventeen, uses a lottery system, but fans complain that it prevents them from choosing seats or easily getting refunds if they cancel.


KASM Distributes Bruno Mars Tix To Underprivileged Kids

Kallang Alive Sport Management (KASM), which manages the National Stadium in Singapore, provided free tickets to underprivileged fans of Bruno Mars when the American singer came to the city for three sold-out concerts recently. Many of the tickets were distributed to children living in public rental flats whose families face financial difficulties, Channel News Asia reports.

The ticket initiative is the result of a partnership between the Singapore Sports Hub and the Southeast Community Development Council that helps recipients of social services participate in social activities, including sporting events and workshops. One of the purposes is to bring together people from diverse backgrounds in Singapore.

KASM was established by Sport Singapore to manage Singapore Sports Hub, which is considered a “national icon,” and since 2022 about 4,000 tickets have been given away for various events to a wide variety of people, from volunteer helpers to lower-income families. The purpose is to make sure the Sports Hub and related facilities, like the National Stadium, are accessible to everyone.


Is Osaka Ready For World Expo?

The 2025 World Exposition is set to open a year from now on April 13 in Japan’s third biggest city, Osaka, and local media are wondering if the pavilions and other facilities will actually be ready in time.

Due to soaring construction costs and an acute labor shortage, preparations are behind schedule and a number of countries and companies have pulled out of the event.

Moreover, interest in the Expo from Japanese businesses seems to be falling, according to a survey conducted by Kyodo News, which found that 80 percent of the companies and other entities involved in the Expo have expressed “concern over a lack of public enthusiasm” for the event.

In addition, less than 50 percent of the 45 companies, sponsors and other organizations questioned said they thought t
hat the country’s outlay of 235 billion yen ($1.6 billion) was “reasonable.”

Generally, Kyodo blames the lack of enthusiasm on the negative publicity the Expo has generated due to reports on stalled construction of pavilions as well as infrastructure, not to mention the tepid response from overseas.

Apparently, many of the local boosters believe that the organizers of the Expo have not done enough to promote the event abroad.

However, it is the Japanese people who need to be convinced first, and respondents to the survey called for “improved publicity for the exhibits,” including “detailed explanations from the central and local governments.”

The organizers have projected total attendance for the Expo, which will run from April to October 2025, to be 28 million, including 3.3 million from abroad. Some participants are skeptical that the Expo will attract that many people and are afraid they will end up bearing the cost if it loses money.

The current budget estimate of 235 billion yen is double the initial estimate, and is being borne by the central government, Osaka prefectural and city governments, and business entities. In addition, operating costs have increased over time by 40 percent. Participants are counting on ticket sales to cover those costs, but the prospects don’t look very bright.