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Music returns to live clubs in Hongdae

The Korea Live Hall Association holds a press event on Jan. 25, asking the government to relax strict social distancing measures enforced on performance venues. (KLHA)
The Korea Live Hall Association holds a press event on Jan. 25, asking the government to relax strict social distancing measures enforced on performance venues. (KLHA)

Live clubs in the Hongdae area will now be able to hold performances under the current social distancing scheme, as details of the infectious disease prevention and control measures have been changed.

“The Mapo-gu district office has decided general restaurants with stages and performance facilities in its jurisdiction can host performances while complying with the government’s infectious disease prevention and control measures for performing arts facilities,“ the Korea Live Hall Association said in a recent announcement on its website.

Under the infectious disease prevention and control measures in force since late-February, live clubs classified as “general restaurants” could not host performances under social distancing scheme Level 2.

Industry officials protested the order as live clubs classified as general restaurants operated mainly as performance venues rather than restaurants. They emphasized that the Hongdae live clubs did not sell food or drinks after the COVID-19 broke out, operating strictly under the government’s social distancing rules.

Live clubs in the area and indie musicians who performed at the venues protested that the ban was unfair and inconsiderate of the unique indie music culture.

Following discussions among the Korea Live Hall Association committee, consisting of personnel from the Hongdae live club scene, the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Mapo-gu district office, the conclusion was reached that live clubs in the area could hold performances as long as they comply with the government’s infectious disease prevention and control measures.

A comment by a Mapo district office official comparing an indie band performance to a “chilsun” party, 70th birthday celebration where bands are often invited to perform, which went viral earlier this month, angering indie bands and fans who criticized the comment and the ban on performance.

Meanwhile, pop music events are still allowed to have only up to 99 people in the audience, unlike classical music performances and musicals, which do not have restrictions on audience numbers as long as the middle-seat vacancy rule is observed.

Industry officials and committees are requesting the government to lift the rules on audience numbers for pop music events.

By Im Eun-byel (silvertstar@heraldcorp.com)
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