2020 was a year when nothing seemed to go as planned due to COVID-19. COVID-19 affected so much on our daily lives. Almost all face-to-face activities were recommended to be reduced as much as possible. Though the circumstances were bad, people had to go on. Even the trivial daily routine of talking to friends at a nearby coffee shop was restricted due to “social distancing”. Activities done alone naturally became a part of our obvious routine. The amount of time spent indoors increased, so individuals felt a sense of loss and helplessness, and even a sense of depression. This phenomenon was known as “Corona Blues”. Whenever people felt depressed, they used to eat out, have special times with beloved people, or “enjoyed the gift of Art”. People got energy from loud, active concerts, or they were impressed with touching movies, and filled with passion when looking at various artworks by visiting exhibitions.
However, the activities of the art world, where communication and empathy between people are most significant, were particularly constrained by the COVID-19 virus. If it was simply a problem of not being able to interact face-to-face, other fields seem to be overcoming the COVID-19 problems much better when compared to the art world. Meeting or exchanging projects can be overcome with technical supplements and through using applications such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, but the heat or atmosphere that can only be felt in the field can hardly be overcome by technological advances. On October 10 7 p.m., BTS’s online concert BTS Maps of the Soul One was broadcasted live. Unlike the last online concert, which only communicated through text messages, BTS performed at the concert, watching the live reactions of their fans, ARMY, displayed on a screen. Though the concert was held successfully one of the BTS member shed tears.
“I wanted to play with ARMY all over the world.”
Originally, most of the music programs were set up with an enormous number of staff and castmates. However, due to COVID-19, the number of staff members for the music program was decreased. Moreover, no audience was allowed to enter. Many singers expressed that they felt disappointed when performing to an empty concert hall. To
replace the absence of fans, each fandom recorded their cheering voices and sent it to the music program staff. The staff decorated the stand with human-like panels, balloons, and played the recording from the fans. Music programs such as Yoo Hee-yeolʼs Sketchbook, which focuses on communication with the audience, was also dealing with difficult situations. However, the host, Yoo Hee-yeol, performed various humorous situations such as sitting all along in the large audience hall to show that he misses the audience. Moreover, as the existing interactive communication became impossible, the performers prepared more songs on stage. Zico performed Summer Hate (2020) in Yoo Hee-yeolʼs sketchbook as a comeback stage, while IU appeared in the 509th episode to present fans
as if it was a mini concert broadcast. Singers, staff members, and hosts are all trying various ways to satisfy both viewers and fans.
Gatherings of people, such as concerts, were strictly prohibited under government guidelines. Therefore, all offline concerts had been canceled or postponed. The concerts of BTS, Twice, and Winner, which were scheduled to be performed between February to March, were also canceled, and the tickets were refunded. Nevertheless, Mr. Trot, the most popular trot male group in Korea, had also postponed Mr. Trot Concert (2020) several times. Korean male singer 10cm held online concert Together at Home Online Concert (2020), for the first time in Korea. In addition, the number of viewers reached 100,000 while the song Homewarming was being performed in the concert.
The OVERPASS festival (2020), which was planned to be held in the U.S.A., was not canceled. Instead, the performance method was slightly changed. The pre-recorded live performances of each singers from each country were aired live, on the festival’s official website from 11 p.m. on September 29. It also set the early bird ticket at $8 and the normal ticket at $11, which is lower than the average price of festival tickets. In addition, a “review” function was provided to ticket buyers, free of charge for a certain period of time in consideration of network connection errors and other what-if situations after the real-time broadcasting. In Korea, Gray, Baek-hyun of EXO, and Song Min-ho of Winner attended the lineup.
Communication with fans
A number of platforms have emerged hosting multimedia content and artist-to-fan communication, such as SM’s bubble and Big Hit’s Weverse. Especially on Weverse, the communication among fans is very active. For example, the number of posts mentioning the latest online concert were more than 30,000. Also, each Entertainments was able to know the customers’ needs more easily by looking up the particular app. The best example is selling goods of celebrities. Every fan used to wait in a very long line to get the celebrities’ goods offline. However, now that the online platform is very stable, fans are able to buy goods whenever and whatever they want. This fulfilled both fan and Entertainment’s needs.
The U.K. and the U.S.A. mostly closed movie theaters, or opened them only on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Drive-through cinemas, and French water cinemas also emerged as a way of enjoying movies. On the other hand, Korea operates various promotions and social-distancing policies to attract audiences. Each cinema promoted large discounts on the tickets with 30-50 percent off. Moreover, the desire for watching the movie and concern of infection led to the increase of needs for the premium theaters such as Charlotte Theater, Megabox Boutique, and Private CGV. Premium theaters have larger seats, and usually composed of 12-30 seats only. After the social distancing, premium theaters can hold about 10-15 people in one room, which makes consumers feel safer in COVID-19 situations.
Movies originally planned to be shown in cinemas also, had a lot of changes. Those scheduled to be screened, were mostly postponed. Moreover, the way they were being aired changed. The distribution agency made a new policy to release VOD within two weeks of release, and simultaneous airing along with VOD. The example of this is the animation, Trolls World Tour (2020). There were also many re-released movies, since many movies refused to be screened in the COVID-19 era – Call me by your name (2018), My Girl’s Generation (2017), Parasite (2019), etc.
Since people are unable to go out, visiting art exhibitions is probably too much in the current circumstances. To overcome these situations, artists not only took the chance for uploading the pictures online, but also tried various methods. One of them is connecting VR services to online exhibitions. Artist Ha Jung-woong, exhibited his artworks by making program available on VR. Individuals were able to see artworks as if it was really standing in front of individuals. The Royal College of Art cancelled its original graduation exhibition and held it online for the first time in its history. All the ceremonies switched completely to digital. Many people were terrified when they had to exhibit their works only online. However, after their works were uploaded online, calls offering scout for students increased. Infact, the convenience to watch the project led to a better consequence.
The Yangju Art Valley held a drive-through exhibition, Gyeonsang Sculpture Exhibition(2020), and visitors paid for the ticket at the post-view fare adjustment office. The brochure provided at this time includes a brief introduction to each work, and a QR code for more detailed guidance. A 5km/h speed limit was set for smooth viewing.
Due to COVID-19, many designers suffer from being unable to properly show their artworks to people. To cope with this problem, the famous Korean model Han Hye-jin,
held the “100 Clothes Fashion Challenge”. She projected this challenge to help rookie designers in need. Touched by her warm intentions, the famous TV program, I live Alone
broadcasted her meaningful challenge. After her challenge, many celebrities participated in similar challenges, and recently I live Alone held an actual fashion show, displaying
clothes only designed by rookie designers.
Luxury brands such as Hermes, Chanel, Fendi, Balenciaga, and so on, hosted a fashion show online, and all the audience participated in a video conference to watch the fashion show. On October 7, Salvatore Ferragamo collaborated both online and off-line fashion show for the 2021 S/S collection. The off-line show was held out doors, and only few audience were invited. Instead of inviting every audience, Ferragamo streamed the show live, and displayed the screen on specific shopʼs wall. This experimental trial was effective for both quarantine and eye-catching to consumers. By doing so, each brand could make their fashion show just on-time, before the designs got old fashioned. Not only did the brands hung their fashion shows online, they also produced online showroom. Brand Kangol made a digital showroom, so you can shop online, in a similar way as you do on Google Maps via mobile or Internet.
Each art field is striving to overcome its difficulties in a variety of ways. Furthermore, there are areas where they are developing not just by solving problems but also by fully adapting to the changed situations. A typical example is the broadcasting field. As overseas filming became virtually impossible, all variety shows shooting overseas began filming in Korea with alternative options, and the ratings have been maintained or rather increased.
TV & Broadcast Programs
More Salty Tour is a program introducing financially effective ideas when people travel abroad. However, it was temporarily paused due to COVID- 19, and then it changed to domestic shooting. The main slogan for the changed program is “Re-discovering Korea”, which was appropriate for viewers who can not go abroad. The Law of the Jungle was also one of the programs that film abroad. It also changed its concept to domestic survival. Since the changed concept was designed to suit viewers in Korea, the ratings did not decrease. Instead, it maintained its original ratings or even increased them in some episodes.
Increase in one-person media
Since indoor times increased, people not only watched TV programs, but also began to watch various media, from various platforms, such as Netflix, Watcha, Waave, TVING, and so on. People did not stop here. Instead, they started making videos, such as recording oneʼs daily life. As a result, the number of YouTube channels, or any other media platform, has increased in an explosive rate.
Whenever people get frustrated by depression, they got better with the power of art. Although there are problems even in gathering, every parts of Art are doing their best to overcome difficulties caused by the COVID-19. Thanks to our newest technology, we can work online, watch concert online, and even watch movie online. Despite the expensive equipment used in each stage to perform an online concert, will never replace the steaming heat of the pounding concert offline. Nor would they know the mysterious atmosphere while staring at the artworks, hung above the gallery. There seems to be no hope in the endless disaster, but as always, people will overcome these difficulties. If you keep your position and live a healthy, enjoyable life, this difficult time will soon become a memory.
Seok Min-ju, Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org
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