By Kim Tae-jong
The Korean government has slapped a tighter rating on the Lady Gaga concert here than in other countries, barring those under 18 for what it sees are indecent elements in the multiple Grammy winning American singer’s show.
Hyundai Card, sponsor of the concert as part of its Super Series, told The Korea Times Friday that only 280 fans will be affected by the age restriction out of about 45,000 ticket holders and invited clients.
However, the number may be far bigger than Hyundai’s estimate because the singer commands a great following among young people and minors often use their parents’ credit cards for online purchases.
Hyundai officials said they will check people’s identification card at the entrance of the Jamsil Olympic Stadium to prevent young audience members from entering the venue.
“We notified Lady Gaga of the age restriction through an intermediary but neither she nor her staff has provided any response,” a Hyundai Card official said over the phone.
Earlier this week, the Korea Communications Standards Commission informed Hyundai Card that it put the age rating on the concert due to its “provocative” features.
Originally, the concert, which will be held on April 27 as part of the 25-year-old pop star’s world tour, was given the rating 12 and over, the same as in other countries.
Embarrassed by the decision, Hyundai Card is now taking steps for ticket refunds.
“It’s a shame that the concert has been given the rating. There is no specific age regulation for her concerts in other Asian countries such as Japan and Singapore,” the official said. “We started to inform our customers of the new rating so that they can receive refunds on their tickets.”
It has been seven years since a concert by a foreign musician was given a “harmful to youth” rating since Marilyn Manson came in 2005, well known for his controversial stage persona.
But Hyundai downplayed the impact of the refunds saying only 280 tickets were officially sold to under-18s.
But he admitted that the total number of tickets subject to refunds could be much more than estimated. Ticket prices range from 55,000 to 125,000 won.
Hyundai Card, the nation’s fourth largest credit card firm by market share, has held various cultural events as part of its marketing strategy under the name of Super Series. It has invited pop legends such as R&B singer Usher and pop diva Beyonce since 2007
Market insiders say it is not profitable to stage concerts by such famous pop stars but it has helped enhance the brand image of the card firm and also increase the number of new credit card holders as people can receive a 20 percent discount when buying tickets with one of its cards.
But inviting Lady Gaga here may be a risky choice, given her public images.
She has been referred to as the "Queen of Pop" but her music, fashion sense and persona have received mixed responses.
“Basically, we try to invite musicians who can wow audiences and she is one of the few artists that meets our standard,” the official said.
When it comes to her shows, her fans describe them as “highly entertaining and innovative," but her bizarre performances, which are often associated with sex and violence, also shock a lot of people.
She often wears "blood” soaked costumes as well as very explicit ones and this has triggered protests from family groups and other conservative groups.
Some Christian groups here have also opposed the concert.
“She has drawn people’s attention by her bizarre performances,” the Korea Association of Church Communication said in a statement. “She wore clothes soaked with blood in her concert, showed very sexually suggestive performances and encouraged people to engage in homosexuality.”
오는 4월 27일 잠실 올림픽주경기장에서 열릴 예정인 레이디 가가의 내한 공연이 만 18세 이상 관람가로 변경됐다고 현대카드가 30일 밝혔다.
이는 22일 영상물등급위원회가 레이디 가가의 내한 공연에 대해 청소년 유해 판정을 내렸기 때문.
현대카드는 예매한 관객들 중 18세 미만을 대상으로 전액 환불해 줄 계획이다.
한편, 일부 개신교 단체들은 레이디 가가의 내한에 거세게 반대해왔다.
'한국교회언론회'는 지난 19일 "가가는 각종 엽기적인 공연 행태로 사람들의 관심을 받고 있다"며 "피로 물든 고기로 옷을 해 입고 공연을 하기도 하며, 노골적인 성행위 묘사는 물론 동성애를 권장·지지하고 있다"고 밝힌 바 있다.