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Songpa-gu draws criticism over cancellation of ‘Mr. Trot’ concert

A notice from the Songpa-gu Office announcing a ban on large-scale concerts is posted at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena, where the “Mr. Trot” concert was to be held. (Yonhap)
A notice from the Songpa-gu Office announcing a ban on large-scale concerts is posted at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena, where the “Mr. Trot” concert was to be held. (Yonhap)

The much-anticipated “Mr. Trot” tour, scheduled to start Friday at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul and continue nationwide, has been delayed yet again after the local government banned concerts to crowds of over 5,000.

TV Chosun’s “Mr. Trot,” an audition program that chose the best trot singer out of 100 contestants, posted record viewership ratings when it aired from January to March this year. Attesting to its popularity across generations, tickets to the Seoul concert featuring the top contestants sold out within 10 minutes in February. Originally, the concert was to play to 20,000 people in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced repeated delays.

Fans expected to finally be able to see the concert Friday after the organizer, Show Play, put strict safety measures in place. Because of social distancing, Show Play had announced, concertgoers could occupy only 5,200 seats in the 15,000-seat Olympic Gymnastics Arena.

The sudden decision of the Songpa-gu Office, which oversees Olympic Park, to disallow large-scale concerts as of July 21 was disheartening for organizers and fans.

“Because of the sudden notice from the government, the stage, sound and lighting equipment, and the merchandise and quarantine equipment are all in the arena,” said Show Play after the government order was announced. “We spent over 1 billion won ($835,000) on quarantine measures to make the concert safe, but we now have to take on tens of billions of won in production costs.”

Organizers of the “Phantom Singer” concert, which was scheduled for July 31 and was to feature three teams from JTBC’s TV show of the same name, announced that it too would be canceled as a result of Songpa-gu’s directive.

Show Play has announced that its Seoul concert would be rescheduled and the new dates announced by Monday.

Explaining its decision, the Songpa-gu Office cited an increasing number of people within the district being diagnosed with COVID-19, saying nine new cases had been reported over the past five days. However, fans criticized Songpa-gu Mayor Park Sung-soo for watching a musical with 150 office workers on July 21, even taking a photo of the occasion without wearing a mask. They accused him of double standards.

By Lim Jang-won (ljw@heraldcorp.com)
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