Global interest in K-pop artists such as BTS is increasing, but there is actually no stage large enough for them to perform in Korea. The size of the Korean music market ranks seventh in the world as of 2022, but the reality is that it does not have a performance hall infrastructure appropriate for it. Fortunately, discussions on building a performance hall specializing in popular music have become active recently. Let’s look at the past, present, and future of domestic performance hall infrastructure.
Starting with Inspire Arena, large music performance halls are scheduled to open throughout the metropolitan area. | Inspire
While the problem of lack of performance venues has been consistently pointed out, news of the construction of large-scale popular music performance venues has continued to spread over the past few years. In addition to Inspire Arena in Yeongjongdo, Incheon, which is scheduled to open soon, places being mentioned include CJ Live City and Seoul Arena.
CJ Live City began construction in Ilsan in October 2021. CJ Live City is a project in which CJ Group joins hands with AEG of the United States, a global sports and entertainment company, to create a large performance hall that can accommodate a total of 60,000 people, including 20,000 indoors and 40,000 outdoors.
Seoul Arena will soon open its first building in Chang-dong, Dobong-gu, Seoul. It has been about eight years since the business plan was announced in February 2015. Seoul Arena, which the Seoul Metropolitan Government is promoting as a private investment project, is planned to be built to accommodate up to 28,000 people.
However, both performance halls have experienced twists and turns, such as construction being halted or the start of construction delayed. This is the reason for increased construction costs, including rising raw material prices and labor costs. In particular, CJ Live City temporarily suspended construction last April and applied for project adjustment to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport’s Public-Private Joint PF Coordination Committee.
In addition, Hanam-si and Uijeongbu-si in Gyeonggi-do are also pursuing the construction of large-scale K-pop performance halls, and in Incheon, following the Inspire Arena, plans were announced to open Starfield Cheongna, a 21,000-seat multi-stadium dome stadium, in Cheongna International City, Incheon by the end of 2027.
The Olympic Main Stadium, which can accommodate Korea’s largest number of people, recently began remodeling. | Seoul City
Although progress is not smooth, the music industry is looking positively at the steady spread of news of plans to establish a large concert hall. Mr. A, a music industry official, said, “There have been no large-scale pop music performance halls, so the news that a concert hall will be opened is very encouraging,” and added, “I have high expectations that the pop music performance market will grow further in the future.”
However, the industry’s position is that the immediate problem of lack of performance venues cannot be solved simply with the news that a performance venue will be opened. Ko Ki Ho, vice president of the Korea Popular Music Performance Industry Association (KPA), said, “There are global artists such as BTS in Korea, and there are more and more popular artists such as Lim Young Woong and IU, and the demand for large concert halls is increasing. Through K-pop, we are becoming a cultural powerhouse. If a large-scale concert is held in this developing situation, domestic and overseas fans can come to Korea and enjoy various benefits, but it is an ironic situation where there is no concert hall.”
Last year, singer IU became the first Korean female artist to hold a solo concert at the Olympic Stadium. | CGV
Vice Chairman Ko continued, “Our country is practically a country without concert halls. In particular, there is nothing bigger than an arena where large-scale concerts can be held. In Japan alone, there are 7 to 8 concert halls that can accommodate more than 15,000 people.” He said, “First of all, the creation of Inspire Arena is good news. However, the next 3 to 4 years will be a dark time as the Olympic Main Stadium begins remodeling. Until several arena-level performance halls are built, the problem of lack of performance venues cannot be solved during the gap period. He added, “I hope the government will create an alternative.”
There are also many voices of disappointment over the fact that there is still a long wait until the performance halls are completed. Insider A said, “The plan to build several performance halls has been announced, but we have to wait several years for these performance halls to be completed. In particular, I am very worried about whether they can be built safely as the construction of the performance halls continues to be delayed due to problems such as rising labor costs.”
There are also several concerns about the newly built performance hall. Insider A said, “I am worried about the inconvenience of the audience as most performance venues, such as Inspire Arena and CJ Live City Arena, have poor accessibility.”