S. Korea seeks to build K-pop arena in Seoul

December 17, 2018

SEOUL, Dec. 17 (Yonhap) — South Korea said Monday that it will push to build a K-pop arena in Seoul as part of a broader effort to attract more foreign tourists and create jobs in the cultural sector.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance said the project worth about 500 billion won (US$442 million) in Changdong, northeastern Seoul, could be financed by private companies, though it did not provide any details.

The move comes as K-pop, which mostly features choreographed dances by boy and girl groups, has gained ground not only in Asia but in the United States, Latin America and Europe in recent years.

South Korea plans to hold K-pop festivals twice a year at the arena, which would include K-pop celebrities, to spread the genre and improve South Korea’s image, the ministry said.

South Korea sees K-pop and its broader Korean Wave as soft power that can appeal to young people around the world and increase its relevance to them.

For many, the Asian country had long been associated with the 1950-53 Korean War and division with North Korea, but now K-pop has made South Korea a cool country — home to “Gangnam Style,” South Korean rapper Psy’s mega-hit song, and the seven-member K-pop sensation BTS.

This photo, provided by Big Hit Entertainment, shows a BTS performance at New York City's Citi Field Stadium in October 2018. (Yonhap)

This photo, provided by Big Hit Entertainment, shows a BTS performance at New York City’s Citi Field Stadium in October 2018. (Yonhap)

In October, BTS went on a world concert tour, which took them to major American and European cities, including New York City, where the band performed at the Citi Field baseball park — the first Korean act to do so. Only top-rung musicians such as Paul McCartney, Beyonce and Lady Gaga have performed there in the past.

South Korea also said it plans to hold a nationwide shopping festival in line with K-pop events and offer an improved visa system to attract foreign travelers and boost domestic consumption.

Experts said the Korean Wave generated by K-pop and dramas could turn fans in foreign countries into consumers of South Korean products.