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Speak out, Lady!

2012/04/24 | 186 views |  | Permalink | Source

A sketch shows a costume design by Italian fashion powerhouse Giorgio Armani for the world tour of pop star Lady Gaga. The "Born This Way Ball" begins Friday at the Seoul Olympic Stadium in the southeast of the capital. / Courtesy of Shinsegae International

Gaga concert restricted by age, only in Korea

By Kwaak Je-yup

That parental discretion is necessary for children's choice of entertainment is accepted worldwide, with differences in the level of enforcement.

On the Korean government's controversial restriction of Lady Gaga's upcoming Friday concert, however, entertainment industry insiders complain that non-local acts suffer from systematic discrimination under an outdated law.

The superstar arrived in Seoul last Friday, and preparations for her concert are underway under a heavy shroud of secrecy at Seoul Olympic Stadium.

The performance law, first written into the books in the 1960s, details that foreign artists and performances must obtain government approval. This regulation is optional for locals, who may ask for a review if they are concerned about content.

No concert organizer or promoter would speak publicly about this unfair treatment openly, fearing direct or indirect retaliation, yet there is a wide consensus among them that Korea is out of step with the rest of the world in this regard.

"Even Singapore hasn't (restricted) it", said one insider, referring to the Southeast Asian island state's world-famous iron fist over foreign content. The government there only required a notice for parental discretion for Lady Gaga's newest tour "Born This Way Ball", instead of an outright ban on adolescents in the arena.

On previous occasions there, American artists took racier segments out of their performances to gain permission to play live. Lady Gaga's show in its entirety will go on stage at the Singapore Indoor Stadium next month.

The Korean Media Rating Board, which makes "recommendations" to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, judged late last month that the "Ball" has "harmful content" to young people.

The request for reconsideration from organizers Live Nation, the world's largest concert promoter, was rebuffed; the board sticking to its decision.

"There are no official ratings for live performances, only recommendations. A committee of experts reviews the materials organizers submit ... to see if they could be harmful", said a board official, declining to explain the specific nature of its objection to Lady Gaga's show. "Costumes or excessively sexual performances are determined as inappropriate for young people".

The pop star's first Korean visit in 2009 was not restricted.

On the law's different treatment of national and international acts, he said: "That's the law. That's why".

That legislation originates from another era, first established in 1961, when foreign culture was deemed an influence detrimental to social order and too liberal to come in unfiltered. Even in today's texts, its clauses cite damage or disruption to "the national interest", "the goodness of people's customs" and "the orderliness of local performance culture" as reasons not to approve a foreign-born performance. A presidential decree may override the board's decision, another relic of the past.

The culture ministry officials inadvertently confirmed this, asserting that these regulations are rarely applied.

"In 2012, not a single performance failed to gain the board's recommendation", she said.

Even Lady Gaga's plans for the Friday concert were approved by the board, though deemed inappropriate for adolescents.

Only a few hundred tickets have had to be returned since last month's ruling, but a nationwide controversy ensued.

Several celebrities voiced their dissent of the government decision on their respective social networks, while some Christian associations said the American singer promoted immoral anti-Christian values, though some of their statements' exaggerated claims suggested misinformation.

Even the pop star commented on her official account: "Thanku (sic) to all the adults in Korea who are speaking out for underaged who want to come to the BTW Ball. Maybe the gov. will change their mind".

On Monday, there were more than 2,000 standing tickets and close to 900 tickets in the lowest price category for Friday's concert at the Seoul Olympic Stadium in southeastern Seoul, the first date on the artist's world tour.

The officials of Live Nation Korea declined to comment. Live Nation's U.S. publicists had not returned calls at the time of reporting.

A spokesman for Hyundai Card, which is sponsoring the event, also declined to comment.

레이디 가가 19금: 전세계서 한국만 외국가수 차별

전 세계 어디에서든 컨텐츠의 등급을 매긴다.

하지만 27일 레이디 가가 콘서트를 미성년자에 금지시킨 공연법은 다르다.

국외 아티스트를 차별하기 때문이다.

자주 19금 논란을 일으키는 음반이나 영상물과는 다르게 국내 가수들의 공연은 사전 검열이 없다. 해당 가수가 원할 때만 자진요청으로 이루어진다.

1961년에 처음 통과된 공연법은 최근 알려진 바와는 달리 등급을 매기지 않고 청소년 유해여부만 영등위에서 정하고 있다. 위원회의 추천이 없는 공연은 취소해야 한다.

주최측인 현대카드 및 라이브 네이션 코리아는 노코멘트를 고수하고 있고 해외 공연을 들여오는 타 기획사들 역시 불똥이 튈까 두려워 공식적인 입장은 피하는 상태. 하지만 업계 관계자들은 국내 가수들은 사전 심의를 거치지 않아도 되고, 레이디 가가와 같은 외국 공연들만 검열을 하는 것이 시대에 뒤떨어졌다고 입을 모은다.

전 세계 100개 이상의 공연이 계획된 이번 Born This Way Ball 에서 유일하게 한국만 미성년자 입장을 금지했다.

심지어는 이 부분에 세계에서 가장 까다롭기로 유명해 팝스타들의 공연 프로그램이 자주 잘려나갔던 싱가포르에서도 티켓 예매 사이트에 '부모의 각자 판단에 맡긴다'라는 안내문 첨부 조치밖에 없었다.

2009년 레이디 가가 첫 방한 때는 '무해' 판정을 받았기에 이번 영등위의 결정은 원성을 사고있다.

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