Disappointed NCT Dream fans plead for postponement, SM says concert is canceled

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Disappointed NCT Dream fans plead for postponement, SM says concert is canceled



“Postpone it, don't cancel it”
This hashtag has been trending on Twitter among fans of boy band NCT Dream since the weekend. NCT Dream’s concert, which was supposed to take place from July 29 to 31, was canceled after two members tested positive for Covid-19, much to the dismay of fans. However, the aftermath is ongoing as it turns out the cancellation is not as simple as just getting a refund.  
Many ticketholders still hold on to the hope that the concert may be held at a later date, demanding the band’s agency SM Entertainment to postpone the concert rather than cancel it for good. But, that hope is highly unlikely to become a reality. The biggest reason is that rescheduling for a venue of that size is practically impossible, as live performances have been seeing a surge in demand since social distancing regulations were lifted in April.
The concert titled “The Dream Show2 – In A Dream” was scheduled to take place at western Seoul’s Gocheok Sky Dome. The venue is one of Korea’s largest performance venues, which can house somewhere between 17,000 to 35,000 audience members depending on the stage layout. 
The concert held a special meaning for fans as it was NCT Dream’s first in-person standalone concert in two years and eight months, as well as its first concert as a complete team of seven. Members had been expressing their excitement to perform at Gocheok, a career milestone in K-pop as the stadium is one of Korea’s largest venues.  
Poster for NCT Dream's Seoul concert, which was scheduled for June 29 to 31 [SM ENTERTAINMENT

Poster for NCT Dream's Seoul concert, which was scheduled for June 29 to 31 [SM ENTERTAINMENT

When Mark tested positive for Covid-19 on July 25, SM Entertainment stated that the concert will go on as planned with only six of the seven-member boy band. However, on July 28, SM announced that member Renjun also tested positive and that the concert was canceled.  
As the announcement came just a day before the first run, ticketholders were crushed. They had secured their tickets after steep competition, as the booking website saw 1.6 million concurrent connections when sales opened. A ticket for the show cost at least 132,000 won ($100), and while those who purchased through official ticketing are eligible for refunds, chances are slim for those who bought their tickets from resellers. It is well-known in the K-pop scene that fans who failed to get their hands on a ticket from official outlets often turn to resellers online, who often charge huge markups — up to 1 million won for the NCT concert, as one fan shared online. These fans have virtually no way of getting a refund, unless the original buyer agrees to go through the official refund process for them.  
Most fans coming to attend the concert from abroad or Korea’s provinces outside of the Seoul and Gyeonggi metropolitan areas had already booked transportation and accommodation. Combined with must-have merchandise for concerts like light sticks (portable flashlight-like devices used to show support for K-pop idols), costs can quickly stack up to around 500,000 won even with regular ticket prices. Some coming from provinces rented buses to come to Gocheok as a group, but had to cancel their group reservation last-minute. 
Disappointment soon turned into criticism toward the agency. Many fans are questioning why SM cannot postpone the concert to another date, even if it’s indefinitely for now. The hashtag “SM, don’t cancel ‘The Dream show,’ postone it,” has been trending on Twitter as a group action among fans. 
Gocheok Sky Dome in western Seoul's Guro District [JOONGANG ILBO]

Gocheok Sky Dome in western Seoul's Guro District [JOONGANG ILBO]

Nonetheless, SM remains firm that the concert has been canceled for good, and many industry insiders agree that the decision was inevitable. While there are many factors to take into account, such as the risk of additional members testing positive for Covid-19, the biggest problem is the venue.
According to Gocheok Sky Dome’s renting schedule posted on Seoul Facilities Corporation’s website, the next weekend available from now is in March 2023.
“Unless an artist who is scheduled to perform suddenly cancels, it’s practically impossible to reschedule renting the venue,” an industry insider said. “It’s a war until the end of the year and afterward too.”  
The Gocheok Sky Dome is set to host large-scale concerts for American pop star Billie Eilish in August, rock band Maroon 5 in November and more. Even other large venues are tightly booked for big name artists — like Conan Gray at Kintex in Goyang, Gyeonggi in August and Alan Walker at the Jamsil Indoor Stadium in September — to name a few. The same goes for medium and smaller-sized venues, which have been seeing a surge in demand as the live-performance industry has been recovering since most social distancing measures were lifted mid-April.


“Postponement announcements are only possible when the backup schedule has pretty much been all sorted out,” said one K-pop industry insider. “If you tell fans straightforward that you’re unable to carry on with the concert, they’ll probably forgive you. But if you say you’ll postpone it and eventually can’t keep the promise, you’ll be met with even bigger backlash.”
“Nothing has been determined for later schedules,’ SM Entertainment said regarding the concert. Members have been sharing their disappointment as well and consoling fans on DearU bubble, a chatroom service between artists and fans. 
“The concert held so much meaning for us, and I’m so sorry and disappointed,” wrote Renjun. “We’ll try to come back with an even bigger, more NCT Dream-like concert.”

BY HWANG JEE-YOUNG, PARK KUN [kjdculture@joongang.co.kr]
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