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Korea scene cautious despite 2021 resurgence

South Korean sector rebounded by 78% last year as coronavirus restrictions on concert halls and theatres were relaxed

By James Hanley on 11 Jan 2022

Map of the Soul On:e was broadcast from Seoul, South Korea, last weekend

South Korea’s performing arts sector is remaining cautious despite rebounding by nearly 80% year-on-year in 2021.

As Covid restrictions on concert halls and theatres were eased,  the scene generated 307.1 billion won (€226.9 million) last year – 78.4% up on the 172.1bn won (€127m) garnered over the previous 12 months, according to Korea Performing Arts Box Office Information System data.

At 234.6bn won (€173.6m), revenue from musicals accounted for 76% of the entire market, while classical concerts brought in 33.4bn won, up from 8.5bn in 2020.

Choi Seung-hee, of musical production firm Seensee Company, says the growth in revenue was partly due to the relaxation of social distancing measures.

“Theatre-goers became less concerned as we entered the second year of the pandemic”

“More importantly, theatre-goers became less concerned as we entered the second year of the pandemic,” she tells the Korea Herald . “Having said that, we still face uncertainty due to the pandemic and it’s difficult to make a firm plan for the year.”

The industry is hopeful of more performances by both domestic and overseas artists in 2022, including concerts that have been delayed due to pandemic.

“Situations overseas are as important as domestic situations for a company that introduces a lot of foreign artists. So it is really difficult to say that this year will be much better than last year,” adds Annie Jeong of classical music production company Vincero. “So we keep our fingers crossed.”

Korea’s first ever metaverse gig, the K-Vibe Concert, was staged last month by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organisation.

Hosted by Asia’s largest metaverse platform Zepeto, the XR show featured acts from the first to the fourth generation of K-pop, including BoA, SHINee’s Key, Aespa, DJ Raiden, Brave Girls, Mommy Son, and Wonstein.

Meanwhile, construction is ongoing on AEG and CJ LiveCity Corporation’s new K-pop-focused entertainment complex in Goyang City, Seoul.

Set to open in 2024, the 1.8 trillion won (€1.3 billion) development comprises the 20,000-capacity CJ Live Arena and an outdoor performance space capable of accommodating 40,000 people.

Centrally located between five of Korea’s largest cities, AEG projects the new venue, which has been delayed due to licensing issues, will attract more than 20 million visitors annually.


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