2019 MAMA Faces Renewed Controversy Over Its Choice Of Location In Japan

The controversy over the choice of locations for the 2019 Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) continues.

In September, Mnet announced that 2019 MAMA will be held at Nagoya Dome in Japan on December 4. At the time, Mnet addressed concerns over the current state of Korea-Japan relations.

Political and economic tension between South Korea and Japan, which began with issues over trade, has flared up again recently over issues with an advertisement from Japanese retailer UNIQLO. Although the advertisement in question was set up as an interview between two American designers, the Korean branch of UNIQLO subtitled one of the questions in such a way that Koreans interpreted it as a comment on the Japanese colonial occupation of Korea and the issue of comfort women.

This has drawn renewed attention to the choice of Nagoya as a location for 2019 MAMA. In August of this year, a statue called “Statue of a Girl of Peace” was part of an exhibit at an international arts festival, Aichi Triennale 2019, which took place in Nagoya. The statue is a South Korean work that is designed to represent comfort women (a term that refers to women who were forced into sexual service by the Japanese army during World War II). Due to controversy, the exhibit was closed within three days.

The controversy over Nagoya is more likely to affect the actors who attend as award presenters than the singers. One agency representative stated, “The singers have no choice but to attend because it is a major awards ceremony in the music industry. But the actors are just presenting awards, so it’s not as necessary for them to attend. If they can avoid the controversy, there’s no reason they should go to 2019 MAMA. Right now, the desire to attend this year’s ceremony is not the same as in past years. There is definitely pressure about the danger of going to MAMA now. We have to be careful because we don’t know what the response will be.”

2019 MAMA has already faced difficulties with its location options this year, as its traditional venue of Hong Kong is currently the site of protests.

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