The Korea Herald


Hybe confirms Illit’s concert in Macau despite China’s restriction on K-pop gigs

By Kim Jae-heun

Published : June 21, 2024 - 16:27

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Poster for Illit's participation at 2024 TMEA 5th Tencent Music Entertainment Award in Macau, China, on July 19 (Belift Lab) Poster for Illit's participation at 2024 TMEA 5th Tencent Music Entertainment Award in Macau, China, on July 19 (Belift Lab)

Hybe confirmed Friday that Illit, the K-pop girl band under its music label Belift Lab, will be among the K-pop artists to participate in the Tencent Music Entertainment Awards in Macau, China, on July 19.

The quintet shared the award poster on their official account on Chinese social media platform Weibo, Wednesday, announcing their first live performance at the music festival in China.

“Illit will perform at the Tencent Music Entertainment Award as planned. The post on (Illit’s) Weibo account regarding their participation was made after receiving confirmation from the organizer,” a Hybe official told the Korea Herald Friday.

While it won't be the first K-pop performance in Macau recently, Hybe’s confirmation came amid concerns following Beijing's decision Thursday to cancel the concert of Korean rock band Say Sue Me in the capital city in July, which came only one month after its approval.

The approval raised expectations for the lifting of China’s ban on Korean musicians performing on the mainland. Say Sue Me's performance would have been the first pop music performance in China since Big Bang’s world tour there in 2015.

Sharing the disappointing news via their social media on Thursday, the band said, “The concert posters were already out, and we were waiting for the right time to announce the concert when we were informed that the approval had been canceled.”

Say Sue Me added it was hopeful that China’s restrictions were easing, but that turned out not to be the case.

The specific reason for the revocation of the permit remains undisclosed. However, it is speculated that the cancellation may have been influenced by the differing attitude toward cultural exchanges between the more proactive local governments in China and the relatively passive central government, or possibly even by the genre of the music.

In May, well-esteemed Korean soprano Jo Sumi’s performance at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing marked the first concert for classical and jazz after an eight-year hiatus. However, concerts featuring pop singers are still not being held.

Hybe said it is unclear whether the approval for K-pop musicians’ concerts in Macau came from Chinese local government authorities or the central government.

Since the announcement of the THAAD missile defense system’s deployment by the US military in South Korea in 2016, China has effectively banned K-content performances through the Hanhanling policy, which imposes restrictive measures on Korean entertainment. Consequently, not only have concerts by Korean singers in China been prohibited, but the broadcast and screening of Korean dramas and movies in China have also been virtually banned.

Other K-pop stars participating in TMEA 2024 include BoA, Epik High, ZeroBaseOne, Nmixx, NCT Wish and Babymonster.