Asia News: Military Exemptions, Pia, Hatsune Miku

BTS Military Exemption Spurs Outrage

South Korea’s Joongang Daily reports that the Korea Music Content Association has filed a complaint with South Korea’s Ministry of Defense regarding its amendment to the Military Service Act enabling K-pop acts that have been awarded certain distinctions to postpone their mandatory military service until the age of 30. Presently, all South Korean males must begin their service by the time they turn 28.

The KMCA called the amendment, which was passed in February and goes into effect in June, “unrealistic and unfair.” The condition for postponing military service is a citation from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism for “cultural merits.” The law already allows for exceptions to the 28-year-old rule, but they only apply to athletes and classical musicians who have won international competitions. 

The lawmaker who proposed the amendment, it should be noted, mentioned international superstar boy band BTS as the reason for the change, and this seems to be the source of the KMCA’s beef. 

An association official has said that the amendment is obviously meant to provide dispensation only for BTS and no other musicians, and is thus “merely a taunt.” That’s because only artists with more than 15 years in show business qualify for cultural merits. 

In fact, when the ages of musicians who have received such citations are tallied up, the average age is over 60. BTS received a citation under special circumstances from the South Korean president in 2018 due to their huge worldwide popularity even though the group had debuted in 2013. 

“So if a male musician wanted to meet the criteria before he turns 28,” says the KMCA, 

“he has to begin his K-pop career when he’s 13 years old at the latest. And that doesn’t even mean that they can defer their services. That’s only the requirement to apply for the merit. There’s a separate set of standards to see whether they actually get the chance to defer their services.” 

The KMCA also pointed out that start-up entrepreneurs are also eligible for deferment and those undertaking undergraduate or graduate studies abroad. 

“We are not saying we want lower standards,” said a KMCA official. “The current bars are unrealistically high. How are musicians supposed to meet a criterion that’s impossible to achieve? All we ask is that the ministry come up with standards that can be met and fulfilled by musicians, not extraordinary measures that cannot be made.”

The KMCA complaint was filed on behalf of 26 of its 27 member agencies, including South Korea’s big three entertainment companies, SM, JYP and YG Entertainment. BTS does not belong to any of them.

So far, no member of BTS has yet enlisted for their mandatory service, though at least one, Jin, has already turned 28. Consequently, media outlets are watching Jin extra carefully to see whether or not he enlists this year.

Pia Ends Over-The-Counter Ticketing Operations

Pia, at one time Japan’s biggest ticketing agency, has announced that it will halt over-the-counter sales of tickets at physical locations throughout Japan on June 30. 

Pia, which started out as a printed information guide to all genres of entertainment, including concerts, plays and movies, in the 1970s, eventually branched out into ticketing 37 years ago and quickly became the leader in the field. 

It has since seen fierce competition from other ticketing platforms, and during the COVID pandemic saw its revenues take a huge hit. 

The company will continue to sell tickets online, though it has also expanded its business in recent years as a presenter in its own right and recently opened a large concert venue in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Olympics Countdown Gala Stages

The Global Times reports that a gala for music and dance performances took place on April 9 to mark the 300-day countdown to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games. 

The show, called “Meet With Glory,” took place at the Minorities Cultural Palace Theater in Beijing and was made available on various streaming sites. Among the performers was internationally acclaimed classical pianist Lang Lang, who is also the official cultural ambassador of China’s Winter Olympics. 

The 2022 Winter Games is already attracting controversy as several countries, including the U.S., have said they may boycott the Games owing to China’s alleged persecution of the Uighur minority in western China. 

Hatsune MikuCrypton Future MediaHatsune Miku

Hatsune Miku Plans Concert

Japan’s pioneering virtual idol, Hatsune Miku, will perform a free online concert this June, according to the online website Gaming Ideology. 

The event, called Hatsune Miku Expo 2021, will take place on June 6 via Twitch and YouTube, and will consist of three performances, each occurring about five hours apart in order to accommodate foreign viewers living in various time zones. 

The actual concert will take place in Sapporo, the capital of Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido. The organizers say there is no plan to archive the streams, so these three broadcasts will be the only chances to see this particular performance. 

The event will also feature performances by other Japanese artists from both inside and outside Japan, though these artists will not be part of the streamed concert. 

Universal Studios Japan Celebrates Anniversary

Universal Studios Japan marked its 20th anniversary on March 31 without any large-scale events owing to the ongoing pandemic, which has worsened considerably in the western city of Osaka where the park is located. 

However, USJ had been commemorating the milestone with a series of dance events featuring characters from “Sesame Street” starting in mid-March. 

USJ rivals Tokyo Disneyland as one of the country’s most consistently popular tourist attractions, especially among visitors from other Asian countries. However, the pandemic has completely halted incoming travel and reduced the park’s revenues by a large amount.

Japanese media commemorated the anniversary with stories about how USJ struggled in its early years due to a lack of attractions aimed at small children, which was Tokyo Disneyland’s main strength. Eventually, this problem was addressed and attendance rose over the year, but it practically skyrocketed after 2014 with the opening of the Harry Potter attraction.

This year it has finally added the hotly anticipated Super Nintendo World, featuring a section dedicated to the computer game Super Mario Bros., whose opening had already been postponed twice due to the coronavirus.


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