More K-pop acts in Singapore

Tickets to K-pop girl group Twice’s first concert this month are selling fast.
Tickets to K-pop girl group Twice’s first concert this month are selling fast. PHOTO: JYP ENTERTAINMENT AND ONE PRODUCTION

South Korean entertainment acts are diverting their tours from China to Singapore, so expect more events in the next few months

Thanks to the spillover effect from the frosty political relations between China and South Korea, which are embroiled in a missile- defence row, there will be many Korean acts heading to Singapore over the next two months.

A K-entertainment event will come to town almost every other week, starting with boy band Exo's concert tomorrow and continues with the fan meets of actors So Ji Sub and Lee Dong Wook on consecutive weekends.

The long list of upcoming acts includes girl group Twice, teen actress Kim Yoo Jung, rapper Jay Park and singer Hwang Chi Yeul.

The boom in South Korean entertainment events here is a result of a rumoured freeze on K-star appearances in China, after South Korea agreed to deploy a US anti-missile system on its soil in order to counter the growing threat of North Korea.

China's show of objection has escalated in recent months, reportedly including a ban on the import of South Korean cosmetics and the sale of tour packages to South Korea.

Further hints of the apparent ban can be found in K-pop casualty Hwang, who was reportedly edited out of Chinese variety shows.

Ironically, the Chinese singing reality contest I Am A Singer 4 (2016) was the programme that launched him to regional fame.

Some of South Korea's music and dramas are said to be blocked on Chinese online video-sharing platforms too.

Industry observers tell The Straits Times that as K-star entertainment agencies face roadblocks in China, they are eyeing the South-east Asia market.

Last December, Seoul-based talent agency Dream T Entertainment, which manages girl group Girl's Day, announced plans to set up base here as it looks to broaden its influence in the region.

Mr Ngiam Kwang Hwa, managing director of concert promoter One Production, which has experience organising Korean gigs and was behind shows by mega groups Super Junior and BigBang, says: "China was the most lucrative market for K-pop and K-drama before the restrictions and the priority had always been performing there."

One Production is staging two K-pop concerts this month for groups Exo and Twice.

He adds: "With the current restrictions, they have more time to tour cities outside of China. That could be one of the reasons we are getting more Korean acts here in the short term."

Concert promoter Unusual Entertainment, which has previously brought in K-pop acts such as the now-defunct group Wonder Girls and actor Lee Min Ho, agrees.

An Unusual spokesman says: "To some extent, the tough conditions for Korean stars to operate in China has resulted in more artists placing a greater emphasis on the rest of Asia."

The company managed to book two big names for Singapore stops over the last two months - actors Park Bo Gum in February and Lee Joon Gi last month, who held fan meets.

Both actors are riding on a wave of popularity after fronting last year's hit drama serials Love In The Moonlight (Park) and Scarlet Heart (Lee).

It seems that fan meets are also going to be more commonin Singapore, thanks to the China-South Korea diplomatic crisis.

These are ticketed events where fans pay to be in the same space as their idol, who typically entertain the audience with banter, singing and interactive games.

So far, six ticketed actor fan meets are scheduled for the first half of this year, a significant jump from last year's one reported session held by actor Lee Jong Suk.

As for full-on choreographed concerts, it remains to be seen if there will be a sharp increase in gigs held here in the second half of this year.

There are at least eight shows announced for the first six months this year, which is slightly more than half the total of 15 reported K-pop concerts held last year.

While local fans are celebrating the K-explosion here, organisers worry that this may damage the touring prospects of Korean entertainers in the long run.

One Production's Mr Ngiam says: "Without the support from bigger markets such as China, some agencies might not think it is profitable to tour in fewer markets and that could reduce the number of acts coming out from South Korea."

For now, South Korean pop culture enthusiasts are enjoying the variety of options available.

Pre-school educator Lee Wan Ling, 25, who attended Lee Joon Gi's fan meet and boy band Astro's show this year, may be spoilt for choice, but she knows that this is a time for tough decisions on which upcoming shows to attend.

Besides the limitations of her budget, the uncertainty about the future political landscape and hence the touring schedules of South Korean stars is also a concern.

She says: "Who knows whether it will be the actor's or K-pop group's first and last time visiting Singapore?"


Upcoming Korean Acts In Singapore

EXO PLANET #3-THE EXO'rDIUM

What: Contract lawsuits and the departure of three members have not dented the popularity of K-pop boy band EXO. The Korean- Chinese band are back with their third concert tour in Singapore and the remaining nine members are set to enthral with old and new dance hits such as Growl and Lotto.

When: Tomorrow, 4pm

Where: Singapore Indoor Stadium, 2 Stadium Walk

Admission: $128 to $288 from SportsHub Tix

SO JI SUB 2017 FAN MEETING TOUR TWENTY: THE MOMENT IN SINGAPORE

What: This is the second fan meet here for So, who starred as a haughty mogul in Master's Sun (2013) and a personal trainer in Oh My Venus (2015). He held his first fan meet in 2014.

When: April 9 , 6pm

Where: MES Theatre at Mediacorp Campus, 1 Stars Avenue

Admission: $78 to $198 from Sistic

2017 LEE DONG WOOK ASIA TOUR IN SINGAPORE

What: Actor Lee Dong Wook's career has found its second wind, thanks to hit fantasy romance Goblin (2016), in which he plays the Grim Reaper.

Tickets to his Seoul fan meet were sold out in one minute. Fans here will be praying that tickets to the Singapore meet will be less tough to get. In Seoul, Lee flaunted his sculpted abs and Goblin co-star Gong Yoo turned up.

When: April 15 , 7.30pm

Where: Grand Theatre, Mastercard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue

Admission: $178 and $238 from Sistic and Marina Bay Sands Ticketing

TWICELAND

What: Girl band Twice have been touted as the next big thing in the K-pop world. Their songs such as Like Ooh-Ahh, Cheer Up and TT are so addictive that each video has generated more than 100 million YouTube views.

Tickets to their first concert here are selling fast, with more than 90 per cent already sold.

When: April 29, 6pm

Where: The Star Theatre, 04-01 The Star Performing Arts Centre, 1 Vista Exchange Green

Admission: Only $168 tickets available from Apactix

AOMG FOLLOW THE MOVEMENT IN SINGAPORE 2017

What: Indie music label AOMG, which stands for Above Ordinary Music Group, was set up in 2013 by Jay Park, former leader of boyband 2pm. He will be joined at the event by AOMG artists such as rapper Loco and DJ Pumkin.

When: May 1, 5pm

Where: Suntec Convention Hall 601, Suntec City, 1 Raffles Boulevard

Admission: $158, $188 and $228 from Asia Box Office

ACTRESS KIM YOO JUNG

What: Korean entertainment cable channel KMTV will release more details at a later date.

When: Next month

HWANG CHI YEUL SINGAPORE MINI CONCERT

What: Singer Hwang Chi Yeul debuted a decade ago, but shot to regional fame only last year, on popular Chinese singing reality show I Am A Singer.

Riding on his newfound fame, he went on to hold concerts in China, Malaysia and South Korea.

When: May 28, 6.30pm

Where: The Max Pavilion @ Singapore Expo, 1 Expo Drive

Admission: $98, $158 and $238 from Sistic. For $288 Category 1 tickets, go to angeliaad.com/hzl/

PENTAGON FIRST SHOWCASE IN SINGAPORE 2017

What: Pentagon, a 10-member boy band, survived the gruelling training on idol reality show Pentagon Maker (2016) to debut last year.

When: June 3, 8pm

Where: Kallang Theatre, 1 Stadium Walk

Admission: $168 and $208 from Sistic

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2017, with the headline 'More K-star acts coming'. Print Edition | Subscribe