Vietnamese fans turn cold shoulder to K-pop concert, signal waning interest

By Vi Thanh   March 26, 2017 | 07:05 pm PT
Vietnamese fans turn cold shoulder to K-pop concert, signal waning interest
The MBC Music K-Plus Concert in Hanoi on Saturday night. Photo by VnExpress
The much-anticipated concert in Hanoi turned out to be cheerlessly small.

It seems like Vietnam has gradually recovered from the K-pop fever.

As the South Korean pop machine shows signs of age around Asia – with many even predicting its death, it came as a surprise when the organizer of the MBC Music Kplus Concert in Hanoi announced that the weekend event was almost sold out.

The most expensive tickets cost nearly VND4 million ($180), which according to the organizer was justified by a strong line-up of K-pop idols including Seventeen, EXID and APink.

But when the show began at 6.p.m on Sunday in My Dinh Stadium, the coveted standing zone close to the stage could not be filled while the cheaper seating areas were almost empty.

Members of the audience were then asked to all move into the so-called VIP zone to cheer the artists.

Fans said high ticket prices and bad weather could have hurt the show. Local media reports pointed out that some Vietnamese pop stars were mysteriously pulled from the line-up only a few days before the concert, sparking conspiracy theories that divide V-pop and K-pop fans.

Whatever the reason, this is an unexpected blow to K-pop, one that signals the waning interest for Korean pop culture and may have a long-lasting impact on future events.

The concert was part of a three-day series of events to celebrate Vietnam-South Korea ties, but they were also canceled.

The K-pop fever hit Vietnam in the early 2000s when Korean TV shows and pop songs achieved an unusually high level of popularity, long before Psy’s “Gangnam Style” took the world by storm.

The cultural wave also coincided with the strong inflows of investment from South Korea and the rise of intercultural marriages that saw many Vietnamese brides packing for assumed better lives in the more developed nation.

Cultural norms, the taste of Vietnamese and their sense of identity have been changing very fast recently, which means trends in the entertainment industry can become more unpredictable.

As Saturday’s concert may have suggested, what was cool and hip just months ago could fail to attract a big crowd now.

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