K-Pop Ticket Scalpers Now Face Actual Prison Time

The South Korean government is taking official steps to fight ticket scalping, with a potential prison sentence as punishment. ‘

According to reports on April 10, KST, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has amended the Performance Act to battle the rampant cases of scalping. Under this amended act, all illicit ticket resale practices involving macro or automation programs will be punished, with violators facing one year in prison or fines up to ₩10.0 million KRW (about $7,400 USD).

Image used for illustrative purposes only | The Korea Herald

The decision came at a time when the K-Pop industry is replete with scalping cases. According to an analysis by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC), complaints regarding scalped tickets have steadily risen over the past five years, amounting to a total of 549 cases. A significant uptick in these cases was noticed in the post-COVID-19 era when the demand for live concerts increased substantially. Data showed that complaints regarding scalped tickets were numbered at 43 and 41 in 2020 and 2021, respectively, whereas it went up to 136 and 192 in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

While agencies are trying to minimize illicit ticket-selling practices through various methods, they have either proven ineffective or even backfired. Recently, stories of multiple fans being turned away from IU‘s concerts despite having legitimate tickets took the industry by storm. The singer’s agency, EDAM Entertainment, put out statements apologizing and has been forced to rethink their stringent ID verification process.

IU | EDAM Entertainment

In this climate, the amendment to the Performance Act should be a welcome change. People, however, are uncertain about the enforcement efforts. Yoon Dong Hwan, president of the Record Label Industry Association of Korea, criticized the limited practical effect it will have and warned of potential threats of scalping to the entire concert industry.

Regarding the March 2024 amendment to the Public Performance Act, while it does label purchases made using macros as illegal, in practical terms, pinpointing individual macro purchases made by anonymous scalpers is nearly impossible…As ticket scalping cases continue to rise, so do the fraudulent practices associated with scalped tickets. The advent of macros has enabled scalpers to become more organized and commercialized. These illicit activities disrupt the foundation of the industry, necessitating serious legal consequences.

— Yoon Dong Hwan

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