South Korean president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s transition team is reportedly planning to use K-pop to add glitz and glamour to his administration.
According to South Korean media, last week Yoon’s team met executives of K-pop companies, including Hybe Entertainment, JYP Entertainment and SM Entertainment, to discuss revitalising the highly lucrative entertainment industry and related start-ups following the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On April 5, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that BTS, managed by Hybe, may perform at Yoon’s inauguration.
Moon Jae-in, the current South Korean president, has had prominent relationships with many K-pop acts. Moon’s administration has frequently used the likes of BTS, Exo and Red Velvet to burnish its image, such as by organising goodwill concerts in North Korea and hosting performances at international political forums.
Yoon, who is set to take office in May, was elected in March after one of the most tense elections in South Korea’s history. A former prosecutor, Yoon’s conservative platform has raised concerns for being antifeminist and far-right in many political aspects.
He has called for a more militarised South Korea to “safeguard the territorial integrity and sovereignty of our nation”, and he is planning to move the presidential office from the Blue House to a Ministry of National Defence building.
Under past conservative governments, including that of former president Park Geun-hye, South Korean artists risked being put on a blacklist for their political activities and for being critical of the administration in charge.
Blacklisted artists were cut off from state subsidies and placed under surveillance. In 2018, a former culture minister under Park, Cho Yoon-sun, was jailed over the blacklist, on which were names such as that of Parasite director Bong Joon-ho.