Anti-graft law may threaten K-pop concerts

November 2016

Live events sector


The new “anti-graft” law (the Kim Young-ran Act) could have profound effects on live music in South Korea – something already seen in the classical music sector as conglomerates have moved to reduce or discontinue their support for concerts to avoid corruption charges – meaning symphony orchestras and concert organisers will lose the main buyers of bulk tickets, with concerts relying on corporate sponsorship for about half of ticket sales with the companies often using the tickets VIP customers as part of marketing promotions.
“Orchestras are desperate for funding but it’s always difficult to find a patron. The new law will discourage companies even further from sponsoring orchestras,” said a public relations (PR) official for a renowned Korean orchestra, declining to be named adding “Companies will find it harder sending out invitation tickets and some are considering ditching sponsorship. I heard that one company has pulled out of sponsorship entirely.”
Major domestic companies said they will cut their sponsorship of various cultural events as the anti-graft law mean companies cannot give out tickets to customers with one telecoms company saying “The ridiculous law will practically outlaw the sponsorship of classical concerts by big companies, taking a toll on the whole classical music circle, including schools and musicians.”


Added to this is the concern that the new law may prevent promoters and even bands inviting journalists to performances as the law states journalists cannot receive any gifts that exceed 50,000 won (US S45 approx) and that includes tickets for reviewing purposes.


The Korea Times reports that John Burton, the former Financial Times correspondent in Korea, said “I don’t know of any law in other country that would prevent journalists from attending concerts because they would be legally denied the right to accept expensive tickets. Even in Singapore, which has strict anti-corruption laws, most cultural journalists are normally provided with free press tickets, including tickets from state-supported cultural centres.”
The position with K-pop concerts is less clear: top Korean entertainment agencies like YG Entertainment (YG), S.M. Entertainment (SM) and JYP Entertainment (JYP) are all reviewing their practices. All three agencies had their public relations teams undergo education on the anti-graft law, but are not yet prepared for specific guidelines although the companies accept that the struct new financial ceilings may curb press invites.  JYP said it will now no allow journalists into concerts for free or give out invitations, except for showcases.
The Improper Solicitation and Graft Act which went into effect on September 28th  bans public officials, school teachers and journalists from receiving meals valued over 30,000 won ($26.90), gifts over 50,000 won and congratulatory or condolence money over 100,000 won. Informers of such violations can be rewarded by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC).

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