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K-pop concerts cancelled after South Korea tragedy

K-pop concerts and other large gatherings were cancelled across South Korea following the crowd crush in Itaewon, Seoul that killed at least 154 people.

Authorities have launched an investigation into the tragedy, which unfolded in the Korean capital on Saturday night (29 October) when a crowd surged in an alleyway during the first mask-free Halloween event since the pandemic.

President Yoon Suk-yeol has declared a period of national mourning to run until 5 November and designated the Itaewon district a disaster zone.

Reuters reports a major K-pop concert called Busan One Asia Festival, which was scheduled for yesterday and was expected to attract around 40,000 people, was cancelled, while the Korea Music Content Association postponed its MWM (Moving the World with Music) Festival, set for Busan this Thursday and Friday.

“Considering the severity of the national mourning period, we as an association will halt all events and television broadcasts”

SM Entertainment’s Halloween party SMTown Wonderland 2022, electronic dance music festival Strike Music Festival and the Peakbox 22-03 concert were also called off.

According to Korea JoongAng Daily, singers Jang Yoon-jeong and Youngtak also both pulled shows, but K-pop acts Ateez and Dreamcatcher held concerts on Sunday as planned, preceded by a moment of silence, after being unable to reschedule. A number of K-pop groups due to release new music this week have announced they are postponing their releases.

“Considering the severity of the national mourning period, we as an association will halt all events and television broadcasts and will do our best to console the victims’ families,” adds Korea Singers Association president Lee Ja-yeon.

The BBC cites Korean media reports that BTS’ concert at Busan Asiad Main Stadium two weeks earlier, attended by 55,000 fans, was managed by 2,700 security officers, compared to only 137 for the Seoul festivities. The BTS’ show was switched from its original venue due to safety concerns.


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Fifteen killed in ‘inferno’ at music pub in Thailand

Fifteen people were killed and dozens badly injured by a fire that broke out at a music pub in eastern Thailand.

The blaze at the Mountain B pub, in the Sattahip district of Chonburi province, was reported at around 12.45 am on 5 August, according to police.

At least 100 pub-goers were listening to live music in the pub when a fire broke out in the roof above the stage. Videos on social media showed thick black smoke and then flames pouring from the front entrance as people attempted to flee, some with their clothing on fire.

Thirteen people died at the scene, with the death toll since rising to 15.

A spokesperson for Queen Sirikit Naval Hospital said 15 patients required intubation, with most suffering third-degree burns over more than 60% of their bodies. Two patients were transferred to a hospital in Bangkok for advanced treatment.

An electrical short circuit near the stage is initially thought to have been the cause of the tragedy, according to Chonburi deputy governor Naris Niramaiwong.

Flames poured from the front entrance as people attempted to flee, some with their clothing on fire

After an initial investigation by the police, it was found that at least one exit door was locked when the fire broke out and that the pub was lined with flammable soundproofing.

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said that the venue did not have a pub licence and was built in an area where entertainment venues were prohibited, while Pol Maj Gen Atthasit Kitjahan, commander of the Chonburi police, added that the premises was licensed to operate as a restaurant and had been illegally altered.

Mountain B owner Pongsiri Panprasong has been charged for causing death through recklessness and operating a pub without a licence. Panprasong’s lawyer says he has confessed to all charges.

Prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has urged business operators and officials to ensure that safety measures are in place for entertainment venues nationwide.

The blaze at Mountain B pub comes 13 years after a similar incident at Santika nightclub in Bangkok on 1 January 2009. Sixty-six people were killed and more than 200 injured in a fire during a New Year’s Eve celebration at the club. The blaze began on the ceiling above a stage, apparently sparked by an indoor fireworks display. Toxic smoke flooded the venue and contributed to the death toll as the entire club caught fire.

The fires in Thailand echo similar tragedies such at the unlicensed Ghost Ship in California, where an electrical fire sent the converted warehouse up in flames,  The Station in Rhode Island, where pyrotechnics ignited inflammable insulation foam during a concert by Great White, and Colectiv in Bucharest, where band Goodbye to Gravity and hundreds of clubgoers were caught in an almost identical blaze.


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Why do festival organisers keep getting it wrong?

Being hailed as “Fyre Festival 2.0”, another festival fell victim to its lack of preparation late last month. Excessive queues, poor sound system and sub-par quality food plagued Australia’s Wine Machine festival throughout the day, and to top it off, an electric thunderstorm plunged the event into chaos.

Of course, you can never control the weather, but festivals of this scale must be prepared with a contingency plan when the heavens open. So, why do organisers keep getting it wrong? And what should they be doing to mitigate such disasters?

Line machine
Throughout the day, the 11,000 attendees of Australia’s Wine Machine festival were left queuing for hours to be served food and drinks, earning the festival its unofficial name of ‘Line Machine’. In response to complaints about the long queue times, organisers blamed the severe licensing laws recently implemented in New South Wales that restricted people to only buying two drinks at a time. For the long food queues, organisers blamed the shortage of workers after two staff minibuses failed to arrive.

While the new licensing conditions placed upon the festival can’t be avoided, it should have been tackled in the initial planning strategy. Organisers need to understand what restrictions could hold them back and tackle these early on. Using such restrictions as a scapegoat for poor event planning is not acceptable and the organisers should have been prepared for 11,000 attendees wanting to drink at their festival, which was hosted at a winery.

Festivals are becoming more environmentally conscious; a welcome development as a large-scale event can cause great strain on the local environment. However, it should not be at the expense of the guests. Cashless technology is becoming more popular for organisers to speed up efficiency, reduce theft and understand attendee behaviour at events.

Organisers need to understand what restrictions could hold them back and tackle these early on

It must be noted that such technology needs to be properly installed, tested and ultimately offer a real benefit for the festivalgoers. Instead, attendees of Wine Machine were faced with a surcharge on all their card transactions and were not allowed to use a cash alternative.

It’s important that organisers walk before they can run, ensuring that new technology can increase the enjoyment for the attendees rather than cause problems.

Overpromising and underdelivering
Just like Fyre Festival, Wine Machine was unable to deliver on its promises. The promotions across social media for the festival, situated in a winery, promised “the best chardy [chardonnay] ever”, but revellers could not enjoy such claims due to the huge unavailability of Chardonnay at the festival. This is another case of overstated marketing to get people to attend the festival and consequently being unable to live up to the expectations.

Sometimes it’s better to maintain an element of surprise for the festival guests, something that leaves them feeling satisfied. Instead of this, organisers nowadays have a tendency to overpromise in order to sell out and then fail to match those promises.

Social media is a powerful tool to build awareness of an event and extremely effective when generating a conversation among your target audience. A drip-feed strategy that clearly informs festivalgoers about what to expect is the most effective route.

Safety measures
When organising any event, no matter how big or small, safety is the number-one priority for organisers. In the case of Wine Machine, when the weather turned for the worst, there was no clear strategy for evacuating the guests and this caused chaos. Festival attendees were forced into the roads after being prevented from finding shelter inside the winery, with some hiding in disabled toilets to escape the weather.

It’s important that organisers walk before they can run, ensuring that new technology can increase the enjoyment for the attendees rather than cause problems

Furthermore, many guests complained about the treatment they received from security staff during the evacuation, with some citing the aggressive nature from the staff.

It’s important to always be prepared for an evacuation and while it’s no easy feat to move 11,000 people in the pouring rain, it’s not an uncommon occurrence. There needs to be clear instructions for everyone to understand what is going on and where they should go, with accessible transport to take them to a safe place.

Constant communication on social media and throughout the festival – making use of the speakers available – will ensure that the feeling of confusion among attendees is drastically reduced. A calm evacuation is vital for a successful evacuation.

The Fyre Festival documentary brought to life the disastrous consequences of poor organisation and execution, and event organisers are now under more pressure than ever before to make sure that they provide their attendees with the best possible experience. Social media has exposed some of the festival failures and left planners with no place to hide.

Always be prepared for every eventuality, ensuring that you have control of everything you can to give you the capacity to react effectively to what you cannot control. Have a back-up plan, provide clear instructions at every stage and have high-quality safety procedures in place. Take care to deliver on your promises to ensure that your attendees have the most enjoyable time and are not left feeling disappointed.

If these simple processes are followed and executed well, there should be no excuse for a poor festival experience.


Richard Dodgson is founder and creative director of Timebased Events.

Video: High tides scupper Kaiser Chiefs show

The second day of a beachfront music festival in the UK came to an early end after high tides flooded the arena.

Radio station and festival organiser Wave 105 called off Kaiser Chiefs’ headline show at Night Air at the Piers in Bournemouth on Saturday night (19 August) after “exceptional wind and sea conditions” led to seawater encroaching on the crowd area, as seen in Anthony Carrier’s audience video below, and damaging the stage.


A statement from Wave 105 said the decision to cancel “was taken in the interest of public safety, and the organisers are grateful for the corporation and understanding of all involved”.

“Unfortunately a combination of exceptional wind and sea conditions that could not be fully anticipated have resulted in the cancellation of tonight’s final part of the show,” the station said on Saturday. “This was caused by direct southerly/south-westerly winds and short period strong waves which added to the forecast high spring tide. This created high levels of water on the beach that had been unprecedented in all the years of staging the event.”

In a video message, Kaiser Chiefs lead singer Ricky Wilson apologised for the cancellation but said “the stage was in danger, and they [organisers] didn’t want it falling on you or for us to be on it when it fell”.


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