SEOUL, Aug. 18 (Korea Bizwire) – American pop star Ariana Grande’s much anticipated first South Korean show drew criticism over poor management and the singer’s brief stay in the country due to alleged concerns over threats from North Korea, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of thousands of fans.
Criticism continues to grow after Grande finished her show at the Gocheok Skydome on Tuesday, a spectacle that drew an audience of some 20,000, as many fans who are still upset over the poor management of concert organizer Hyundai Card uncover the details surrounding the highly anticipated concert plagued by a number of issues including a lack of rehearsal and delays.
Sources close to Hyundai Card say the female singer and her staff were concerned with the growing threat from North Korea, prompting them to leave the country immediately after the concert came to an end, while international news networks like CNN broadcast a series of breaking news related to North Korea.
Delays caused by strict security screening as a result of a terror attack at a Grande concert in the U.K. also added to the frustration, with long umbrellas banned from the concert venue despite a rainy weather forecast.
Adding fuel to the fire was the whereabouts of the singer during the last hours before the show, as fans found out she briefly warmed up in the bathroom of a hospital close by, thanks to the location feature on Instagram that identified the building as GS Medical Center, sending VIP ticket holders who paid 650,000 won ($570) to watch her rehearse into an uproar.
Against mounting criticism, Hyundai Card issued a statement on Facebook in which the company apologized for poor management and the inconvenience caused as a result.
“Due to the situation of the artist and unexpected circumstances such as bad weather, we have caused inconvenience to many attendees,” the company said in a Facebook post.
While the company said it is in talks with Grande’s U.S. management to provide refunds for those who purchased VIP tickets, Chung Tae-young, the company’s chief executive officer, also took to Facebook where he slammed the artist over her lack of preparation.
“(Grande) arriving right before the concert and leaving immediately, avoiding the press, has left the impression that the concert itself was mechanical,” Chung said.
“If Korea’s current situation was worrisome, it would be good if she had shown the courage and sincerity she displayed at Manchester.
“Or, it would have been better if she was just honest and canceled the concert,” he added.
Delays and a lack of preparation come as no surprise to many South Korean pop music fans, as the country’s poor sales of Western pop music and lack of influence have seen international artists on often treat the country as a mere world tour layover on the way to Japan and other countries with a bigger pop music following.
Ariana Grande’s rushed concert is far from the first incident, as a mounting number of precedents have been set by other pop stars during past visits to South Korea.
In 2014, American singer Mariah Carey faced criticism after showing up 20 minutes late to a concert as well as lip-sync accusations over the performance of one of her most famous numbers, “All I want for Christmas is you”, after the audience was able to hear her voice when her mouth was far from the microphone.
Britney Spears, who held her very first concert in South Korea in June, also got flack over her resort to lip syncing through the concert, drawing criticism for focusing too much on the exterior instead of singing itself despite high ticket prices.
On the contrary, Coldplay, who held a concert in April, garnered praise when lead singer Chris Martin observed a moment of silence and sported a yellow ribbon during the concert in commemoration of the victims of the Sewol ferry disaster in 2014.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)