One thing K-pop fans look forward to doing at this time of the year is plopping down on their warm and cozy couches and watching local television’s annual "pop music awards."
Last month, however, MBC – one of the three major broadcasting networks in this country – announced that there would be no such programs this year. KBS followed suit earlier this month by abolishing its 23-year-old "Gayo Daesang," after controversies surrounding the results during recent years.
This could only mean something bad for both K-pop stars and fans, as the decisions reflect nothing more than the ever-worsening outlook for local pop music industry, which is largely due to the collapse of album sales. Ironically, the very same measure is acting as a catalyst to reinvigorate the live music scene as more and more singers – disappointed with the networks – are seeking to join the already busy performing arts scene in December and January.
"Pop stars are rushing into concert venues with or without new albums released this year," said Kim Yoon-joo, planning manager of Good Concert, a Seoul-based concert agent which is dedicated to staging pop music concerts. "The number of concerts staged throughout this winter has more than doubled from that of the previous year. It seems like pop stars who failed to get what they used to get from television are exerting the utmost effort to reach out to their fans," she added. Cho Yong-pil, although in his mid-50s, is one of the most celebrated singers in the country, still filling venues with thousands of female fans. The veteran performer will give his annual year-ending concert titled "2006 Pil & Passion" at the Seoul Olympic Gymnastics Gymnasium in Southeastern Seoul, three times from today through Sunday. Until last year, the Seoul Arts Center has been monopolized for the year-ending concert treat of this superstar whose albums have sold more than 6 million copies in Japan alone, but this time Cho chose a new venue that can hold about 30,000 people.
Pan-Asian heartthrob Rain (Bi) embarks on his "World Tour" from the same venue, in which he will present an unforgettable night for his fans on Dec. 15. After the concert, the superstar who made his controversial yet successful U.S. concert debut at the beginning of this year is scheduled to give a total of 35 concerts in 12 different countries over five months.
Besides the two superstars, Lee Seung-hwan, Psy and Kim Jang-hoon – who are often dubbed "big three of live concerts" – will also perform during this month. Lee Seung-hwan, whose concerts are always full of brilliant new ideas that never fail to excite and give pleasure to his fans, will perform at the Olympic Fencing Gymnasium in Jamsil, southeastern Seoul, from Dec. 29 to 31.
Kim Jang-hoon starts his concert tour at Daegu Citizen’s Hall in Daegu on Dec. 9 and 10, which will be continued at the Seoul Olympic Gymnastics Gymnasium on Dec. 23 and 24, and Busan BEXCO Airdom on 30 and 31. Psy, whose direct, in-your-face style stage manner has appealed greatly to K-pop fans since his debut back in 2001, will celebrate the end of another year with concerts at Jamsil Indoor Stadium on Dec. 30 and 31.
Hip-hop trio DJ DOC also gives their own year-ending concert at the Atlantic Hall of COEX, southern Seoul, on Dec. 31, while SG Wannabe, a trio of exceptionally talented vocalists, join Vibe, See Ya and Whee Sung for their Christmas concert entitled "The Christmas Star" which also will be at the Pacific Hall on Dec. 23 and 24. Last but not least, Lee Seung-chul, Shin Seung-hun, Sung Si-kyung, rock band Nell and YB Band and Buzz are all preparing for their upcoming Christmas and year-ending concerts.
No wonder the reactions to the new Renaissance of live concert are huge. Major concerts agents, including Good Concert, are already preparing to add up the number of concert planned, encouraged by exceptionally good ticket sales.
"Today’s pop stars don’t deem their concerts as a onetime event, which is why they never cease trying to make their shows more enjoyable," Kim said.