July 1 march
The annual July 1 march in Hong Kong marks the handover of the British colony to Beijing that took place in 1997. The peaceful demonstration has become a rallying point for pro-democracy activists. The march captured the public's attention in 2003, when half a million marched, angered by proposed national security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law.
Boycott July 1 concert, fans urge Korean pop stars
Fans' Facebook messages tell entertainers they are being used as stooges to lure youngsters away from the annual pro-democracy march
Hong Kong fans have asked Korean pop stars to boycott a cut-price July 1 music festival condemned as a political tool to keep youngsters away from the annual pro-democracy rally. Local group RubberBand is already considering pulling out.
All 18,000 tickets for the Hong Kong Dome Festival - costing HK$99 compared with the usual HK$1,000 for K-pop shows - were sold out by Tuesday.
Scores of messages were posted on the official Facebook pages of stars including pop diva BoA urging them to quit the show, to be held on the afternoon of July 1, coinciding with the march.
"The government wants to use your fame to sidetrack the democracy event," Fong Ka-lok wrote on BoA's page. "Please consider, you are living in a country with democracy while we are not!"
Ten-year-old fan Jeff Wong wrote that he would not attend the show although it could be his only chance to see the star.
"I respect and appreciate the effort given by South Koreans to demonstrate against the government when they face injustice. I do hope you can understand the current situation in Hong Kong and consider if you would still continue your show in Hong Kong on July 1," he posted.
Other groups including Shinee, f(x) and EXO received similar requests to drop out or to at least include pro-democracy messages in their performances to earn "worldwide respect".
But some fans said they would attend the outdoor show at Kai Tak to support the artists.
The July 1 rally, the city's biggest annual protest, drew 500,000 marchers in 2003.
Members of RubberBand met yesterday to discuss whether they should pull out of the show.
Drummer Lai Man-wang posted on Facebook, saying it was time to "fight back". He earlier wrote "I feel ashamed and upset at being raped" and posted a July 1 protest banner on his page.
Local band MR did not plan to quit the show, according to Universal Music Hong Kong, to which it is signed.
Florence Chan, of show organiser the Performance Industry Association, said the concert was in fact a protest gesture to highlight the lack of mega venues in the city.
She said the Korean stars were well-informed about the underlying message and had cut performance fees to show their support. Local stars who were upset about the show were "misled".
Meanwhile, retailers that have joined a campaign by the Hong Kong Commerce and Industry Association to offer discounts on the afternoon of July 1 said they had no intention of discouraging marchers.
William Wong Wai-sheung, of jewellery chain Luk Fook, said he had been "surprised by the public reaction".
Frank Pak Fu-hung, founder of bird's nest retailer Home of Swallows, said he would be happy to offer discounts all day on July 1. "I would not have set such a time limitation if I had known it would spark such speculation," he said.