(News Focus) South Korean music scene gears up for post-COVID-19 with first outdoor mass concert


SEOUL, June 28 (Yonhap) – Thousands of people sitting together listening to and dancing to music has become an unthinkable scene since the novel coronavirus hit South Korea early last year.

But the rare occasion came to life over the weekend as music enthusiasts gathered for the country’s first outdoor mass concert held at the Southeast Seoul Olympic Park.

While the concert involved a longer wait time as people were tested for the virus before entering the venue and no vocals or vocals were allowed, he signaled the light after a tunnel for the local pop music industry which has taken a hard hit from the pandemic.

“Beautiful Mint Life 2021,” an annual music festival that mainly features independent artists, took place Saturday and Sunday on the greens of the venue commemorating the 1988 Summer Olympics.

Fourteen artists – such as popular independent groups Peppertones and Daybreak, as well as soloists Lee Hi, Paul Kim and Stella Jang – sang with all their hearts during the two-day event which started at 3 p.m. and ended. continued until dusk.

What made this possible were the government’s relaxed social distancing guidelines, a set of rules that the pop music industry had complained about being too strict compared to those in classical music. or other kinds of performing arts.

Under revised guidelines announced on June 11, organizers can host pop music concerts for up to 4,000 attendees, provided the ground rules – such as seating arrangements and on-site hygiene – are met. respected.

Until the recent announcement, the in-person cap was 99, prompting some groups to collaborate with classical orchestras and musicians to bypass the threshold.

Yet the organizers and participants remained vigilant against possible cases.

Members of the audience at the outdoor concert had to go through a three-step entry process, including a rapid virus test that shows test results in 10 minutes, and were not allowed to enter groups of five or more people. A gym near the outdoor site has been turned into a huge screening center for this procedure, with around 100 booths set up for participants to use self-test kits.

The performers also encouraged fans to follow the guidelines closely and replaced the usual chants and chants with applause and small dance moves.

Soloist Lee Hi asked listeners to make circles with their arms or use their hands and arms to show appreciation for the music.

“This form of concert is awkward so (I) need your help,” she said. “Let’s enjoy our ‘inner fun’!”

Musicians and fans seemed moved to meet in person in a year and a half.

“(Can’t believe) how long it took to attend a festival. Thanks to everyone who enjoyed the event despite the warm weather,” Stella Jang tweeted after the festival.

Following Beautiful Mint Life’s decision, more and more musicians and organizations are preparing to host in-person events in the second half.

Organizers of the Jarasum Jazz Festival, an annual jazz music festival that takes place on the scenic island just outside Seoul, said they would host the three-day concert in person after hosting it virtually l ‘last year. The 2020 event marked the first online event held since the festival began in 2004.

To mark the return to an in-person event, the organizers created a moving poster that shows musicians coming to life.

The K-pop industry, which has been doing relatively well thanks to cutting-edge online concert systems in a dismal backdrop, is also gearing up to host in-person fan meetings.

While the 4,000 cap is still a small number compared to the tens of thousands of attendees that popular acts easily attract to their regular concerts, in-person sessions should be a treat for musicians and fans who haven’t attended. not seen for months. even years.

This is all the more true for groups like Brave Girls who have become stars on the verge of disbandment.

The four-piece group – who recently went viral with their 2017 hit “Rollin ‘” – are set to host their very first fan meeting on July 25 since their debut in 2011.

Boy group Seventeen, meanwhile, are set to host a fan meeting August 6-8. Group label Pledis Entertainment said only a portion of the seats will be sold due to social distancing and that the event could move to an online session only if situations change.

South Korea reported an additional 501 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of cases to 155,572, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

As the figure rose to 500, health officials are on alert for a steady increase in cases of the highly contagious Delta variant ahead of the easing of social distancing measures which are expected to take effect later this week.

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