SEOUL, Nov. 11 (Korea Bizwire) – Lee Seung-Cheol, Korea’s popular singer and a former rock band member, was held for hours in Japan’s airport while arriving in Tokyo.
According to his talent management agency Jinnenwon Music Works, Lee was going to go to Japan at one of his acquaintances’ invitation on November 9 through an Asiana Airlines flight, but was detained for 4 hours by immigration authorities in Haneda Airport for no apparent reason.
The person with the talent agency said, “To the question by Lee why he was being detained, an immigration officer answered it may have to do with his recent activity reported on the media.” It refers to his music performance in August in the disputed island of Dokdo with a choir consisting of North Korean defectors that may have angered some of the powers that be in Japan.
“The other officer, however, talked about Lee’s past run-in with the Korean law for smoking marihuana 20 years ago,” said the talent agency official. But he had never been subject to search or detention at the airport for this reason even though he entered Japan for 15 times since then. In the early 2000s he even held a concert in Japan, the agency official said.
On August 14 this year a day ahead of the 69th Liberation Day, Lee went to Dokdo in the East Sea with North Korean youth defectors to sing songs like “The Day” to express their longings for peaceful unification.
This is not the first time for some of the Korean celebrities to be surprised by an unexpected response from Japan. Actor Song Il-gook took part in a campaign to swim across the 90-kilometer water between Dokdo and Ulleung Island in August 2012 and suffered a setback by Japanese TV channels that they would cancel a drama “A Man Called God” in which he played a leading role just 6 days before the scheduled programming date.
At the time, BS Nippon and BS Japan, the satellite TV channels, explained that they would be a target of viewer criticism if the program was aired nonetheless. Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, made remarks in a TV interview after the incident, “It will be hard for Song to come back to Japan from now on. That’s what most Japanese people feel.”
These days, the number of K-pop singers active in Japan is in decline. Actress Kim Tae-hee was even threatened with murder by an extremist group especially hostile to Korean Wave performers.
By Lina Jang (email@example.com)