Complaint lodged over singer’s rejection in Tokyo

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Complaint lodged over singer’s rejection in Tokyo


Japan’s refusal to allow veteran singer Lee Seung-chul into the country based on his performance on the Dokdo islets has raised public backlash here, and the Korean government has officially lodged a formal complaint to Tokyo.

Amid the controversy, the nation’s “prince of live concerts” also vowed to take a more vociferous stance on spreading awareness about Korea’s claims over its easternmost territory.

On Wednesday, the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it had summoned an official from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul over Lee’s rejection from Japan, which appears to be in retaliation against a concert the entertainer hosted on Dokdo, also claimed by Tokyo.

Oh Jin-hee, an official from the ministry’s Northeast Asia bureau, conveyed “regret over worsening public sentiment.”

Lee was denied entry into Japan on Sunday after being held with his wife for four hours at Haneda Airport in Tokyo by the country’s immigration office.

He was not given a specific reason for the rejection, even after the Korean Foreign Ministry requested a clear explanation.

Oh conveyed to the embassy official that Lee had “visited Japan numerous times without issue, and right after his visit to Dokdo, he was denied entry, something that our people cannot comprehend.”

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday that Lee’s rejection was “unrelated to his singing on Takeshima,” Tokyo’s name for the islets in the East Sea, and that the decision was in accordance with its immigration laws. He did not elaborate further.

The 47-year-old singer held a mini-concert on Dokdo on Aug. 14, a day before Korea’s Liberation Day, which celebrates the end of Japanese colonial rule over the peninsula.

In response, Lee made his song, “The Day,” which he sang on Dokdo, available for free download starting on Wednesday. There are three renditions of the song: a live version in which he was accompanied by a choir of North Korean defectors on Dokdo, a solo version and a version in English.

The singer added that proceeds from future collaborations on the song will be donated to charity.

“I myself do not have any intention to cave to tacit pressure or such treatment in regard to our territory and rightful claim,” Lee said in a statement, “and through this experience, I resolve in the future to raise a clearer voice on issues related to Dokdo.”

Korea’s position is that no dispute exists in regard to Dokdo, which is the country’s territory historically, geographically and under international law.

“This song is not, as Japan seems to think, about animosity or hostility, but rather about reconciliation and overcoming the odds,” Lee said.

The song describes hope for the possibility of a unified Korea.

However, the lyrics of the song do not make mention of Korea, Dokdo or any other political situation; rather, it has an uplifting message of prayer “for the day we are together, face to face.”


BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]


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