Super Junior becomes 1st Asian act to hold solo concert in Saudi Arabia
July 26, 2019
Global Korean Post
By Kim Yeong Deok and Lee Jihae
“At last, after a long wait, Arab fans of K-pop got to enjoy a K-pop concert in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.”
The Saudi Arabian TV news channel Al Arabiya had this to say about the June 12 concert of the Korean boy band Super Junior, who made history as the first Asian act to hold a solo performance in the largest country in the Middle East.
Held at King Abdullah Sports City, the concert was part of the annual Jeddah Season Festival, and showed the progressive opening of the conservative kingdom to foreign cultural content.
Approximately 2,000 fans showed up at the stadium seven hours before the event, showing the high anticipation over the country’s first K-pop concert. The Korean Embassy in Riyadh said all 4,000 seats were sold out.
The decision to allow Super Junior’s performance is part of a progressive campaign made by the country’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Under his economic and social reform plan Saudi Vision 2030, a nationwide ban on concerts and movie theaters was lifted in April last year that had been in effect since the 1980s. The country is also encouraging the inflow of foreign cultural content, with several globally famous singers holding concerts there such as Mariah Carey in February.
Ahn Jung-gook, a professor of Arabic studies at Myongji University in Seoul, said, “Korea and Saudi Arabia have built economic and diplomatic trust over decades. The concert was the fruit of their decades-long cooperation.”
“Interest in K-pop and Korean culture in general has grown prevalent in Saudi Arabia.”
K-pop fans in the kingdom can expect an even bigger concert in October, when K-pop super group BTS will perform in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.