The nine members of South Korean boy band D-Crunch were visibly crushed on Sunday (Oct 27).
They were in Kuwait but just before they were slated to take to the stage, they were told that the authorities had decided not to let them perform.
But they were still asked to go on stage to break the news to the audience.
As the members looked forlorn and confused on stage, one of them said: "Sorry everyone for not showing you our performances.
"We will come back soon, we will see you soon again. Thank you so much everyone."
One of the members, in a video posted online, could be seen wiping away tears, amid loud cheers from the audience.
Various media have attributed the sudden cancellation to talk that the authorities were not happy about the D-Crunch members' stage personas as well as lifestyle choices.
The group had earlier performed in Abu Dhabi on Oct 24 as part of Korea Festival 2019 and were in Kuwait as part of a line-up at a 40th-anniversary Concert of Korea-Kuwait Diplomatic Relations.
The Gulf News tabloid quoted Good Morning Kuwait TV personality Yousef Al Saleh, who was in the audience, as saying: "It was a free event... it was advertised that there's going to be modern music, traditional Korean music with Korean traditional dances, and D-Crunch."
The concert started at 7.30pm, with D-Crunch slated to take the spotlight at 9pm.
"You can tell the crowd were there for K-pop. It was an age range between 14 and 50s or 60s. And people were there for D-Crunch, some girls had posters, they wore the (group's) T-shirts," added Al Saleh.
Another concert-goer wrote online: "(The cancellation) was heart-breaking... the D-Crunch members didn't say goodbye when they were on the bus, that's how upset they were."
Echoing the perplexed reactions from concert-goers when the D-Crunch showcase was axed, Al Saleh noted: "K-pop is not controversial, it's all clean choreography, because Korea has a standard and K-pop has a standard too."
Indeed, K-pop, which has conquered America with groups like BTS and SuperM topping the Billboard album chart, recently opened another front in the Middle East, with BTS performing in Saudi Arabia earlier in October.
But the prospect of further breakthroughs is now not guaranteed, with the Kuwaiti authorities' move interpreted as catering to the more conservative sections of Middle East society .
This, even as D-Crunch member Chanyoung had told an interviewer before their Abu Dhabi gig: "We have changed some parts of our choreography to fit the Middle Eastern culture."
Still, K-pop has built up a loyal following worldwide, with fans quick to take to social media to express their support for D-Crunch.
In Saudi Arabia, netizens even called for a D-Crunch concert to be organised in their country, to take the sting out of the painful Kuwait rejection.
Meanwhile, the Korean embassy has told Gulf News that the Kuwait concert was a success but its statement did not mention D-Crunch's omission.