Europe’s biggest ever K-pop festival announced
Europe’s biggest ever K-Pop festival has been announced for Frankfurt, Germany in 2022.
Staged by K-Pop Europa, in partnership with PK Events and Korean broadcaster SBS Television Network, the 44,000-capacity Kpop.Flex will take place at Deutsche Bank Park on Saturday 14 May.
Monsta X and (G)I-DLE are the first names announced, with five more acts still to be unveiled for the event, which is part of a five-year plan to further grow the booming K-pop genre in Europe.
The Korean Wave has been gathering force in Europe for some time now
“The Korean Wave has been gathering force in Europe for some time now, so we are particularly excited to be able to give our growing fanbase what they want, right here on European turf, with the return to major live music events here in Frankfurt next spring,” says David Ciclitira, a partner in K-Pop Europa, which is a collaboration between Live Company Group (founded and chaired by Ciclitira) and Explorado Group.
Kpop.Flex will kick off the music season at Frankfurt’s Deutsche Bank Park, which has already sold out three dates for Coldplay and two for Ed Sheeran later in the year. Korean broadcaster SBS will film the festival and create a made-for-TV edit, for screening in Korea after the event.
“K-pop.Flex is a really dynamic addition to our line-up, which includes Ed Sheeran and Coldplay – and we’ve already pre-sold 300,000 tickets for those,” adds Deutsche Bank Park MD Patrik Meyer.
Festival-goers will also be able to view original artworks by K-Pop stars Ohnim and Yooyeon and independent talent Henry Lau. Limited edition prints of these artworks will be available to purchase.
BTS announce mini-residency at LA’s new SoFi stadium
BTS have announced a mini-residency at the brand new SoFi stadium (cap. 70,000) in Los Angeles this winter, promoted by Live Nation.
The record-breaking K-pop stars will bring their ‘Permission to Dance on Stage’ show to Inglewood, California, for four nights.
The in-person concerts will mark the first time BTS have been able to be face-to-face with fans since the 2019 BTS World Tour.
The four shows, taking place on 27, 28 November and 1, 2 December, will follow the group’s recently announced livestream concert scheduled for 24 October.
The ‘BTS Permission to Dance On Stage’ live stream comes a year after the ‘BTS Map of the Soul On:e’ event in October 2020.
The four shows will follow the group’s recently announced livestream concert scheduled for 24 October
The stars grossed an estimated $44 million from the two-day live stream, which reached 993,000 viewers in 191 regions.
BTS’s record label, Big Hit Music, says they decided to hold the concerts in the US after “taking the national and regional health regulations and circumstances into consideration”.
“It is [with] our deepest regret that we are unable to hold more concerts in more areas,” it added. “We will do our best to put on additional concerts for not only Korean fans but fans from all around the world who have been patiently waiting for a long time.”
Fans can register for ‘Permission to Dance on Stage’ tickets here.
K-pop platform Universe records 2.6m viewers for first show
NCSoft Corporation, the South Korean developer behind the long-running online video game Guild Wars, welcomed more than 2.5 million viewers in 164 countries to its first online concert, staged via new artist-to-fan platform Universe on Valentine’s day.
The app is seen as a rival to Big Hit Entertainment’s Weverse fan platform, which is home to the likes of BTS, GFriend, CL and TXT. Weverse currently holds the record for the biggest-ever ticketed concert live stream, for BTS’s Bang Bang Con: The Live, which recorded 756,000 concurrent viewers last summer.
The concert featured a multi-view mode that allowed fans to watch the acts from five different angles
A total of 2.6m people viewed the free-to-watch debut show, Uni-Kon, which was held at 7pm Korean time yesterday (14 February). Performers included Park Ji Hoon, Iz*One, Monsta X, the Boyz, Kang Daniel, WJSN and AB6ix.
“There haven’t been big concerts recently due to Covid-19, but we could enjoy many artists’ performances today through Universe,” said Daniel during the show, JoongAng Ilbo reports. “I hope today’s Uni-Kon was a gift for the audience.”
The concert featured a multi-view mode that allowed fans to watch the acts from five different angles, as well as ‘extended-reality’ (XR) virtual stage effects. The entire show, as well as interviews and backstage footage, will be made available on the Universe platform in the coming days.
Save Our Stages movement reaches South Korea
Around 70 South Korean bands will take part in a livestreamed benefit concert in aid of the country’s shuttered music venues.
Taking inspiration from the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA)’s Save Our Stages campaign in the US, which culminated in a US$15 billion relief package of the same name, #SaveOurStages Korea launches with a multi-day event taking place at five music venues in western Seoul.
Local acts Galaxy Express, No Brain, Jambinai and Crying Nut are among those taking part in the #SaveOurStages concert, which runs from 8 to 14 March in the Hongdae area of the South Korean capital, according to the Yonhap news agency.
Promoter CODE says most of the money raised in ticket sales and donations will be used to pay venues’ rent and compensate artists and staff, with the remaining amount going back into the local music scene.
Hongdae (pictured) is one of Seoul’s most popular shopping and entertainment areas, but has been hit hard by lockdown and social distancing measures. The greater Seoul area is currently under a 9pm curfew, with gatherings of five or more people banned.
Universal Music, YG invest in livestreaming service
Universal Music Group (UMG) and K-pop label YG Entertainment have invested in KBYK Live, a livestreaming company backed by BTS’s management company, Big Hit Entertainment.
The investment from YG – home to Korean superstars including Blackpink, Big Bang and iKon – and UMG will go towards expanding KBYK Live’s VenewLive, bringing both companies’ rosters of artists to the platform, which boasts augmented reality (AR), multi-view and 4K streaming capabilities. KBYK Live was established after Big Hit and tech start-up Kiswe partnered last summer.
The technology behind VenewLive was demonstrated at BTS’s record-breaking Bang Bang Con: The Live and Map of the Soul: One in June and October respectively. The former drew in a peak concurrent audience of 756,000, while the latter was viewed by nearly a million people worldwide.
The shows also offered a variety of premium features, delivering a full stage production from multiple angles in 4K resolution, with live chat and synchronised light sticks.
“This past year has shown that the need for reliable and innovative livestreaming has never been greater”
“VenewLive has already livestreamed several large-scale performances last year and provided unique immersive fan concert experiences that can be offered through our cutting-edge technologies, including six-angle multi-views, 4K resolution and various interactive features,” says KBYK Live CEO John Lee. “Our technology will be the basis for enabling fans to feel closer to artists, and help artists express their energy on a digital stage.”
“We are excited about this investment as our company, with many artists competitive on a global stage, has secured a high-quality platform with leading technologies,” adds YG Entertainment COO Sung Jun Choi. “We will continue to do our best to provide more interactive experiences and new services to global fans.”
Boyd Muir, executive vice-president and CFO of Universal Music, says its unspecified investment into KBYK/VenewLive will allow the company to “evolve the opportunities and live streaming experiences for UMG artists and their fans today and into the future”.
“This past year has shown that the need for reliable and innovative livestreaming has never been greater,” he adds. “VenewLive offers some of the most creative and memorable opportunities for today’s artists to globalise their art and performances, tailored to enhance the community and fan experience.”
Fan tents and sanitiser showers at 1,200-cap K-pop show
An estimated 1,200 K-pop fans attended an innovative socially distanced live show intended to offer a blueprint for how live events may continue in South Korea while Covid-19 is still a threat.
The Live in DMZ concert, held as part of an annual event promoting peace in the Korean peninsula, was organised by the government of the province of Gyeonggi as a means of providing “comfort” to people who are tired of ongoing coronavirus restrictions, according to local media.
For the show, fans were placed in 300 clear dome-shaped tents, specially constructed for the occasion and capable of seating four people (from a single household/bubble) apiece. According to organisers, the tents aim are the first of their kind in the world, and prevent the transmission of potentially disease-carrying droplets between fans.
In addition to the unusual seating arrangement, the Gyeonggi authorities installed an ‘air shower’ gate that sprayed a disinfecting mist at the entrance to the concert, as well as a thermal temperature-checking system and a ‘distancing fence’ to prevent household mixing in the waiting area before fans took their seats, reports the Gyeonggi Daily.
In addition to the unusual seating arrangement, authorities installed an ‘air shower’ gate that sprayed a disinfecting mist
For the purposes of contact tracing, all attendees were required to fill in a health-check questionnaire and provide their details in advance of the show. After filling in the form, ticket buyers received an automatically generated QR code to use for entry into the concert.
Explaining the concept to Cities Today, Lee Jae-gang, Gyeonggi’s vice-governor for peace, says: “By operating a web-based access system that enabled entry using QR codes for confirmation, the Gyeonggi provincial government was not only able to implement rapid and accurate quarantine procedures, but [can] also undertake follow-up management by once again sending self-health-check questionnaires to concert attendees two weeks after the event.”
[📰] 201026 – DMZ Concert which was aired on October 24 can be re-watched on MBC website, 'Live in DMZ' Naver TV, 'MBC EVENT' VLIVE, and will be broadcasted as a special 100 minutes program on October 29 at 11:40 PM KST.
ㅡ https://t.co/8EJIWEtyQe#KIMJAEHWAN #김재환 pic.twitter.com/strpZn3Dki
— KIM JAEHWAN GLOBAL (@KJH_GLOBAL) October 26, 2020
Held from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 October at the 41,000-seat Goyang Sports Complex in Goyang (a satellite city of South Korean capital Seoul), the Live in DMZ show featured performances from local stars including Monsta X, Mamamoo, Itzy, Loona, (G)I-dle, and Oh My Girl’s Seunghee and Yooa.
According to Cities Today, the novel set-up gave the stadium a capacity of 1,200 for Live in DMZ, while an additional 400 people watched the concert online.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
South Korea: Venues open, despite Covid-19 spike
There are no plans to reinstate social distancing in South Korea, one of the first countries to report cases of Covid-19, despite a spike in infections linked to a cluster of venues in Seoul, the country’s deputy health minister has said.
Health officials were placed on high alert last week when a 29-year-old clubgoer tested positive for Covid-19 after having visited five nightlife venues in the neighbourhood of Itaewon, potentially exposing thousands to the virus, according to UPI. At press time, there had been 76 confirmed patients who attended the Itaewon clubs, as well as 43 who were infected through secondary transmission.
While some Seoul nightclubs and bars were temporarily re-shuttered, the government has stood by its decision to ease restrictions by reopening offices, public facilities and sports centres, reports Reuters. Despite the reopenings, daily infections remain under 50 a day (for comparison, the still-locked-down UK, which has only 15 million more people than South Korea’s 51.6m, is still reporting more than 3,000 daily cases).
“For now, we will monitor how the current transmissions go and review [at a later date] whether we should reconsider our distancing policy,” said Kim Gang-lip at a media briefing today (13 May).
Live entertainment began to return to Korea in March, after the January–February peak in infections, at a time when much of the western world was still formulating its response to the growing pandemic.
“For now, we will monitor how the current transmissions go and review whether we should reconsider”
Key to South Korea’s success in getting the coronavirus under control is its robust programme of testing and tracing, which experts believe could provide a model for other countries to restart their economies while keeping their citizens safe. Kim also said today there will be no return to social distancing while authorities can trace at least 95% of infections.
According to the Guardian, “by the time the World Health Organization issued its plea in mid-March for countries to “test, test, test”, South Korea had spent weeks doing just that, quickly developing the capability to test an average of 12,000 people – and sometimes as many as 20,000 – a day at hundreds of drive-through and walk-in testing centres. The mobile centres conducted the tests free of charge within 10 minutes, with the results were sent to people’s phones within 24 hours. By mid-March more than 270,000 people had been tested.”
Outside Korea, several European countries and US states have set a timetable for reopening entertainment and hospitality venues, although all still include some form of social distancing – Dutch proposals to allow venues a maximum of 30 people, including staff, provided they remain 1.5 metres apart, for example, have been dismissed as especially unworkable.
The Event Safety Alliance, which recently released a ‘reopening guide’ for entertainment venues, describes how some countries are “using contract tracing to enable health authorities to track who has been to an event or location if an outbreak flares up. They are then contacted and instructed to seek medical advice.”
Privacy advocates in Japan and South Korea have been critical of those countries’ use of emergency powers to snoop on citizens
This enables venues to reopen more safely, knowing that any outbreaks can be isolated and contained, though only South Korea and, to a lesser extent, Australia (which is tracking the virus using its COVIDsafe app), currently have the capability to do so, according to the guide. Additionally, “some societies are more tolerant of the perceived impact on personal liberty than others”, it warns.
Privacy advocates in Japan and South Korea have been critical of those countries’ use of emergency powers to snoop on citizens, according to the Japan Times, where virus carriers’ contacts are “aggressively traced” using tools like GPS tracking on smartphones, credit card records and CCTV. “People’s movements before they were diagnosed are published on websites and relayed via smartphone alerts to inform others whether they have crossed paths with a carrier,” the paper adds.
While Korea-style contact tracing could provide the answer to reopening venues safely – and when faced with a choice between privacy invading contact tracing and socially distanced shows with 30 people, the latter arguably looks more appealing – not everyone is convinced.
Germany – whose testing and tracking regime is the envy of much of Europe – has warned it could reimpose lockdown after a rise in Covid-19 cases last week. “We always have to be aware that we are still at the beginning of the pandemic,” said chancellor Angela Merkel, “and there’s still a long way in dealing with this virus in front of us.”
Beyond Live: K-pop band SuperM sell 75,000 virtual tickets
More than 75,000 paid viewers tuned into a two-hour live stream by South Korean boy band SuperM yesterday (Sunday 26 April), for the first show in a new online-only concert series, Beyond Live.
The seven-piece, assembled last summer by management company SM Entertainment, performed to fans in 109 countries, including South Korea, the US, the UK, Japan, China, France, Germany and Australia, via video streaming service VLive (the same platform used by BTS for their Wembley Stadium broadcasts last summer) 3–5pm local time. Further Beyond Live shows include Chinese group WayV (on 3 May), NCT Dream (10 May) and Seoul-based NCT 127 (17 May).
“Compared to [physical] shows by popular [K-pop] idol groups, which are usually held with an average of 10,000 people per show, the world’s first online dedicated paid concert, Beyond Live, attracted 75,000 people around the world at once,” says SM in a statement.
“By mobilising an audience 7.5 times bigger than ‘offline’ concerts, we expect to develop a new concert business”
“By mobilising an audience 7.5 times bigger than ‘offline’ concerts, we expect to develop a new concert business.”
Fans who tuned into the first Beyond Live show paid an average of US$30 to be there, according to Forbes, earning SM some $2 million from virtual ticket sales.
In comparison, SuperM’s February date at the Forum in Los Angeles saw gross sales of just over $1m, per Billboard’s Boxscore. SuperM are represented by CAA in all areas.
Prior to the current livestreaming boom, K-pop superstars BTS earnt an estimated €3.5m ($3.8m), or just shy of $1.9m per show, from livestreaming their two performances at Wembley Stadium in London in June 2019.
Big Hit releases BTS-themed Korean language course
Big Hit Entertainment, home to K-pop superstars BTS, is launching ‘Learn Korean with BTS’, a series of videos dedicated to enabling global audiences to understand the band’s lyrics.
The release comes as many around the world are looking for new ways to pass the time, as they are confined to their homes or facing social restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rolling out on fan community platform Weverse tomorrow (24 March), ‘Learn Korean with BTS’ consists of three-minute videos teaching simple Korean grammar and expressions.
The episodes will be aired a total of 30 times, with the first three three episodes released at 5 a.m. (GMT) on 24 March, followed by one episode released every Monday at 12 p.m. All episodes will be free for anyone who is registered on Weverse.
“With the recent popularity of K-pop, the demand for learning Korean is increasing greatly”
Professor Heo Yong of the Department of Korean Education at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and researchers at the Korean Language Content Institute (KOLCI) participated in the development of the learning programme.
Big Hit plans to expand the venture to include educational content for other artists on its roster in the future.
“With the recent popularity of K-pop and other Korean cultural contents, the demand for learning Korean is increasing greatly, so we are planning Korean education contents to improve our accessibility,” reads a Big Hit press statement.
“We hope that through learning Korean, global fans will be able to deeply empathise with the music of artists and enjoy a wide range of content.”
Big Hit works with artists including Tomorrow X Together and Lee Hyun.
Switzerland imposes ban on events over 1,000-cap.
The Swiss government this morning (28 February) placed a ban on events of more than 1,000 people, becoming the latest European country to implement widespread measures against the spread of coronavirus.
The number of coronavirus cases in Switzerland has risen to 15, with the first diagnosis being made on Tuesday. More than 100 people are currently in quarantine in the country. The ban follows similar measures imposed in Italy, which has suffered the worst outbreak of the virus in Europe.
“Large-scale events involving more than 1,000 people are to be banned. The ban comes into immediate effect and will apply at least until 15 March,” reads the Swiss government statement.
“The Federal Council is aware that this measure will have a significant impact on public life in Switzerland. However, the move […] should prevent or delay the spread of the disease in Switzerland, thus reducing its momentum.”
Events consisting of fewer than 1,000 people are still allowed to go ahead, provided event organisers undertake a risk assessment first.
The ban has led to the cancellation of events including Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and shows by Santana, Alice Cooper and Peter Maffay at the 15,000-cap. Hallenstadion in Zürich.
“Large-scale events involving more than 1,000 people are to be banned”
“Unfortunately, we have to inform you that all concerts have been cancelled until 15 March 15,” reads a post on the venue’s Facebook page. “Tickets will remain valid for any postponement date. The promoter will decide on a final cancellation and on the ticket refund policy.”
A post on the website for the Swiss city’s 5,000-cap. Samsung Hall, where Halsey and Avril Lavigne are scheduled to play before 15 March, reads: “At the moment we do not have any information on how to proceed. Please be patient until we can announce further information here.”
Event space X-TRA, where Stormzy is set to perform on 5 March, states it is “evaluating the impact of all planned events” in response to the government’s decision.
Halle 622 (1,600-cap.), which is hosting acts including Sam Fender and Fat Freddy’s Drop, also advises fans it is “in close contact with the Federal Office of Public Health”. The status of events will be updated on the venue’s website.
Coronavirus has led to the cancellation of many high-profile shows and tours around the world. K-pop stars BTS today cancelled four upcoming dates at Seoul Olympic Stadium (69,950-capacity), as part of their Map of the Soul world tour, with management company Big Hit Entertainment saying it is “impossible to predict the scale of the outbreak” for when the concerts are scheduled to take place in April.
“While we hope that the situation will improve, we must take into consideration the health and safety of hundreds of thousands of guests as well as our artists and the dire impact a last-minute cancellation may have on guests from overseas, production companies and staff,” continues the statement.