Singer denied entry into Japan; no reason givenKorea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was regrettable that veteran singer Lee Seung-chul was denied entry on Sunday into Japan, especially if the rejection was motivated by a performance he gave on Dokdo, Korea’s easternmost islets that are also claimed by Tokyo.
Lee, who shot to stardom as the main vocalist of Korean rock band Boohwal in the 1980s, was held at Haneda Airport in Tokyo with his wife for four hours by the country’s immigration office on Sunday before being denied entry into Japan.
He was not given a specific reason for the rejection.
Lee was reportedly visiting Japan upon the invitation of an acquaintance there but was later forced to return to Korea.
His agency, Jin&Won Music Works, said in a statement that the denial of entry appeared to be a “retaliatory measure” against Lee’s performance on Dokdo, which drew backlash in the Japanese media.
The 47-year-old singer held a mini-concert on Aug. 14 - a day before Korea’s Liberation Day, which celebrates the end of Japanese colonial rule over the peninsula - on Dokdo, where he sang a song about the islets, which Japan calls Takeshima.
Korea denies that there is a territorial dispute with Japan over Dokdo.
Officials from the Korean Embassy in Tokyo requested that Japanese officials explain the reasoning behind Lee’s denial, the Foreign Ministry here said yesterday.
“However, the Japanese authorities said it was a ‘customary practice,’” and that it could not reveal the reason behind denial of entry for the singer “as according to protection of personal information,” said Noh Kwang-il, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.
Lee told JTBC in an interview on Monday, “From what I can see, it was about Dokdo.”
Korean celebrities have been denied entry into Japan in the past for similarly unexplained reasons.
Popular Korean actor Song Il-guk was prohibited from entering Japan in 2012 after he participated in a relay swimming event to Dokdo to help publicize Korea’s claim over the islets.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]