Japanese pop star gives her first live show in KoreaTwo weeks ago, hundreds of young people clad in masks from a popular Japanese comic book thronged to Melon Ax, a live concert house at Gwangjang-dong, at the eastern end of Seoul.
Korean fans of popular Japanese singer Maki Goto were getting worked up for her first concert in Korea. The atmosphere in the venue, which seats 2,000, reached its peak when the Japanese pop star sang her hit song “Spinto Namida” in Korean as an encore.
The enthusiasm for Japanese pop music, or J-pop, was revived earlier this month when the Japanese group Arashi held its first Korean concert. Paris Match, a Japanese acid pop group, played over the weekend at Melon Ax. w-inds, another popular Japanese group, also held a Korean concert.
Goto, 21, decided to hold her Korean concert after seeing passionate Korean fans at the Asia Song Festival last September.
At the end of July, more than 2,000 fans gathered at Incheon International Airport when Arashi held a press conference and thousands of fan club members attended the Asia Song Festival in Gwangju in September.
The popularity of J-pop first began in Korea in the 1980s and peaked in the 1990s, when XJapan became famous here. After 2004, with the opening of the Japanese pop market and Internet-based J-pop fan clubs, its popularity increased.
The Korean market is not the most attractive for the Japanese music industry because it is only one-tenth the size of the Japanese market.
Music sales in Korea have also almost died due to the common practice of illegal downloading.
Nevertheless, top singers in Japan have started entering the Korean market because of the firm belief that Korea can act as a bridgehead to other Asian markets.
“Korea has become an attractive market for the Japanese music industry with the success of the Korean cultural wave,” said a spokesperson at SM Entertainment, the company in charge of Arashi’s music distribution in Korea.
“The fact that a singer has successfully entered the Korean market now seems to reflect positively on their career in Japan as well.”
Kim Jak-ga, a pop music critic, said, “As Korea rises to function as the hub of Asian pop due to the Korean cultural wave, the Japanese music industry is trying to approach the Chinese and Southeast Asian markets after establishing a firm base in Korea, through strategic cooperation with Korean enterprises.”
The success that Korea has enjoyed with the Korean wave in Asian markets is a strong stimulus in Japan.
Yet limitations remain for J-pop in Korea.
Japanese groups can hold concerts and sell products, but are banned from appearing on broadcast television.
Department Chief Cho Ja-hyeon of Pony Canyon Korea said that J-pop stars cannot be broadcast on TV even when they sing their songs in Korean.
That stipulation is because of the strong anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea.
by Jeong Hyun-mok
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