Asia News: Hong Kong Venue Nears Completion; K-pop Movie Hits; Phillipines Infrastructure Lags

K pop fans take pictures of a billboard of Hybe's singer
SUGA SNAPS: K-pop fans take pictures of an advertisement for SUGA’s concert film in front of the HYBE headquarters in Seoul. The movie is one of many K-pop films that have been revenue drivers, particularly as BTS members fulfill their mandatory military service.
(Photo by Kim Jae-Hwan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)


Kai Tak Sports Park Hong Kong Nearing Completion

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, ASM Global and Kai Tak Sports Park Limited have announced a late-winter testing period for their $4 billion sports, recreation and entertainment complex.

It will feature “many of the world’s most advanced state-of-the-art venues, and is now prepping for pre-opening activities in advance of 2025’s formal unveiling,” according to a press release.

Kai Tak will include a 50,000 capacity stadium boasting a retractable roof “and flexible pitch surface that can host a wide array of events in any weather; a 10,000-capacity indoor sports arena that meets the standard of major international tournaments for a wide range of athletics; a 5,000-spectator, open-to-the-public sports ground for hosting school sports days, athletic meets, local football and rugby matches.. and an outdoor recreation complex.”

Kai Tak Sports Park Limited won the HK$29.993 billion ($3.8 billion) contract in 2018. The Kai Tak complex will feature restaurants, retail shops, jogging trails, a health and wellness center, a climbing wall, as well as an international-standard bowling center with 40 lanes suitable for hosting international tournaments. Kai Tak Sports Park is expected to formally open in early 2025, with the 15th National Games of China hosted in the Greater Bay Area being the first major sports event it will deliver.
– Gideon Gottfried


K-pop Films Make Box Office Noise

K-pop is cashing in on the current trend for concert movies. According to the Korea JoongAng Daily, “Suga: Agust D Tour D-Day The Movie,” became the highest-grossing concert movie so far in 2024 in the U.S. after becoming the highest-grossing concert movie ever for a K-pop solo act. The film made $10.16 million worldwide when it was shown in limited release in theaters April 10-14.

The biggest market for the movie was Mexico, where it grossed $2.58 million. And it placed 10th on the list of highest-grossing theatrical releases in the U.S. between April 12 and 14, when it earned $2.3 million in North America.

Suga is a member of BTS, the biggest K-pop group in the world, on hiatus currently with its members fulfilling mandatory military service for South Korea. The “Agust D Tour” film chronicles the final show of Suga’s last solo tour, which attracted 290,000 people to 25 concerts in 10 cities. “D-Day” refers to the title of his solo album.

Moreover, Suga also released a documentary about the tour on Disney+ last year called “Suga: Road to D-Day,” which followed him as he traveled the world for inspiration for the album. Carol Choi, Disney’s executive vice president for Asia-Pacific content, explained during a media day event in March that “fans want to see what top global musicians are like both on and behind the stage,” according to the JoongAng Daily.

What makes this desire especially profitable is that many fans will watch such content over and over again. Disney has streamed two documentaries about BTS nd another one about member J-Hope. They’ve also produced docuseries and concert films about other K-pop acts, including Tomorrow X Together, Super Junior, Psy and NCT 127.

Disney+ has become the world leader in K-pop streaming content, thanks to its partnership with Hybe, the agency that handles BTS and other top tier K-pop acts.


Redevelopment Advances At Tokyo Fish Market

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced April 19 that a consortium of 11 companies has been chosen to redevelop the former site of the world’s largest fish market in the Tsukiji district of Tokyo. The market moved to a new landfill area in the waterfront district in 2018.

The consortium plans to build a stadium for sports and concerts, as well as a hotel and a “mixed-use building,” according to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper. Construction will begin in 2025 and is expected to be completed by 2038. The government wants the facility to “host international sporting events, concerts and large-scale exhibitions.” In addition, an “international conference center” is planned, as well as a theater.

The former fish market site is owned by the Tokyo government and covers about 20 hectares (49 acres). The site has been used for parking and, during the Tokyo Olympics, as the transportation hub for various events. Starting in 2022 the government solicited business operators and two groups submitted proposals. The winning group is headed by Mitsui Fudosan Co., one of Japan’s biggest real estate developers.


Study: Infrastructure Gaps Hold Back Concert Business

A recent report by the Manila Bulletin studied the various infrastructure gaps that prevent the Philippine capital from becoming a magnet for large-scale international music tours.
The media outlet admits that “Filipinos’ love for concerts presents significant economic potential,” but there are structural obstacles to bringing big acts at the scale necessary. Consequently, Filipino fans of Taylor Swift had to fly to Singapore, Japan or Australia to see their idol for the recent “Eras Tour.”

The Bulletin explored what’s needed to attract big shows. The main problem is accessibility, especially in terms of public transportation, which isn’t consistently reliable, especially during big events that put a strain on buses and trains.

Then there’s the problem of a suitable venue. Though Manila has venues as big as those in Singapore, Tokyo and other major Asian cities, it doesn’t have the vanguard features, such as retractable roofs and proper climate control, that stadiums in other countries offer. Such a state-of-the-art stadium “is something that Filipino concertgoers are hoping the country can replicate,” says the Bulletin.

The two busiest venues, the SM Mall of Asia Arena and the SMDC Festival Grounds in Paranaque City, can accommodate 20,000 and 50,000 people, respectively.

Consequently, property developer SM Prime is now working on a 360-hectare (890-acre) smart city project that will be centered on a “centerpiece to the country’s entertainment and sporting events” that will accommodate larger capacities than anything else in the Philippines, including a stadium that can handle 70,000 people and another large-scale concert arena.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Filipinos rank fourth in terms of spending on concerts, so the investment in better infrastructure and venues is seen as a prime goal for the city of Manila. As it is, too much of that money is going out of the city, not to mention the country.


Mavis Hee Fans Rage At Short Set

Mavis Hee, a popular singer from Singapore, held a meet-and-greet style concert at a stadium in the city of Nanjing in eastern China on April 20, but only performed 10 songs herself over the space of 30 minutes. Her band played some additional songs by itself.
Following the performance, some audience members demanded a refund and called on the Nanjing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism to investigate.

According to the Global Times, the bureau told disgruntled fans that they should “negotiate directly with the singer’s team,” explaining that if “management authorities” became involved, then compensation or punishment would depend on the “results of an investigation” into any possible violations on the part of the concert organizer. That’s a process, it was implied, that might take time.

Tickets for Hee’s concert were as high as 1,280 yuan ($190), which is expensive for a meet-and-greet in China, and fans told Chinese media that for most of the performance Hee either talked or let her backup singers take the stage.

Advertisements for the concert promoted it as a “meet-and-greet concert” with “a minimum of 15 songs.”

A legal expert told the Global Times that, given how the organizers advertised the concert, “they had an obligation to provide the audience with a genuine and complete auditory and visual experience.”

The 50-year-old Hee is a popular singer among Chinese-speaking audiences in Asia.
Some years ago, according to the Straits Times, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia.