'No K-pop on a dead planet': Activists urge entertainment companies to combat climate change

The "Sustainable K-Entertainment" conference was held at the National Assembly, Monday. Courtesy of Kpop4Planet

By Dong Sun-hwa

Some 10,000 K-pop fans from 83 countries have called on major entertainment companies to join the global fight against climate change, asking them to organize green tours and refrain from using plastic when producing the singers' albums.

"Currently, there are more than 100 million K-pop followers across the globe and K-pop's cultural clout is growing every day," Lee Da-yeon, an activist at the fan-driven climate action platform Kpop4Planet, said during the "Sustainable K-Entertainment" conference at the National Assembly, Monday. During the event, Lee issued a statement on behalf of 10,000 K-pop fans, calling for the music industry in Korea to play a more active role in combating the climate crisis. The conference was hosted by Rep. Lee Won-wook of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK).

"Considering its massive influence, K-pop should be more responsible in tackling global issues like climate change, and the record labels like HYBE, SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment should listen to the voices of the fans who are asking them to join the green movement for future generations. There will be no K-pop on a dead planet."

Lee then moved on to suggest what can be done.

"The companies can first reduce the use of plastic when producing their singers' albums and merchandise," she said. "There are many ways they can limit their carbon footprint during the concerts, too. In the case of singers, they may release songs about the need to go climate positive or take part in climate action programs. In fact, the changes are already happening… K-pop diva Chungha, for instance, put out an eco-friendly album, Querencia in February and so did singer Jay B. Girl group BLACKPINK was a goodwill ambassador for the 26th Climate Change Conference (COP26) that took place from October to November."

Cedarbough Saeji, a professor of Korean and East Asian Studies at Pusan National University, echoed this sentiment, offering additional ways for the K-pop industry to go green.

"To commit to green tours, entertainment companies may consider phasing out the use of plastic light sticks and create fresh ways for fans to demonstrate their adoration, such as banners," she said. "Retrofitting old concert venues to reduce waste in heat and cooling and reducing the use of diesel fuels at outdoor festivals may be other options."

The professor said the record labels can also consider prohibiting single-use plastic bottles and serve only organic foods for catering.

"Inviting environmental educators to set up booths at concerts and publicizing green objectives and outcomes to fans can be helpful, too," she added.

"But the Korean music industry will lag behind a clear global trend among artists and demands from fans if it does not act quickly. In fact, a plethora of world pop stars including Coldplay, Billie Eilish, Drake and Pharrell Williams are already pushing for changes."

Following Lee and Saeji's speeches, Cho Han-kyu, vice president of Kakao M Entertainment, said, "Holding a carbon-neutral concert without deteriorating its quality appears to be the key to the issue. I think we need more in-depth discussions with our company officials and the artists to figure out how we can attain such a goal."

Dong Sun-hwa sunhwadong@koreatimes.co.kr

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