The Brown Eyed Girls are one of the latest to join in on the 2012 concert fun with their first solo Korean concert since 2010’s Hot Winter Party. And rather fittingly, it’s with one that’s rated 19+, making them the first girl group to hold a show with that rating. Their concert, titled Tonight 37.2°C, is a show for adults, so sorry minors. Though I’m sure YouTube will have something or another afterward. Similarly, JYP is also slated for a rated concert tour with his Bad Jazz Bar. Both concerts are held this December, and are sure to heat up South Korea’s winter.

The 19+ rating means just as it says: you must be 19 or older to attend. It’s issued by the Korea Media Rating Board, which regularly rates film, video, stage performances, and advertising. Most recently, it has given both Ga-in‘s “Bloom” and G-Dragon‘s “That XX” music videos 19+ ratings. In addition, in April, Lady Gaga was also hit with a restriction.

At first glance, the idea of a 19+ concert brings to mind a whole lot of sensuality and a limiting of cash flow. If we look at the money aspect for an idol group, a large part of revenue from albums, songs, and concerts is from fangirls and parents that want to see the show. Generally, they’re the demographic that has the time and schedule to support their idols the most. From that standpoint, gearing up for an adult show is a little dangerous. The younger demographic is cut off from attendance, limiting the potential ticket buyers from the show. For this reason, the larger companies that tend to cater to younger ones as well as younger groups altogether would most likely avoid this type of concert.


But admittedly, neither the Brown Eyed Girls or JYP have much to worry about on this account. Both have great appeal to older age groups, in part because both are more aged as far as idols go. The Brown Eyed Girls have always been on the mature and sexy end; for their concert to not include similar concepts would be strange. Indeed, their teasers are enough to show this. Filled with sensual images and expressions, it seems like they’re bringing more themes along the lines of of Ga-in’s “Bloom” and the previous “Abracadabra” to the stage. That’s a show I’d want to see, so I’m sure the fanboys are more than ready. JYP is also bringing some smooth jazz to the concert stage. If his concert follows his teaser picture, you can be prepared to see some skin.

This situation of having 19+ concerts relates to a parting from the typical, squeaky clean idol image. The Brown Eyed Girls are not the typical idol, but they do set an example for what other idols may do once they reach the same age, should they remain in the idol industry for that long. The rating of 19+ probably brings first to mind more sexual images, but it can encompass violence, torture, themes simply deemed inappropriate for children. These are topics seldom mentioned in the normal K-pop fare, generally because they are difficult topics to sell well in song. But overall, if anything, having the rating allows for greater freedom of content. Since the audience has been restricted to the greatest extent possible, you can’t do much more–within legal lines–to be contained.

In addition, a curious development may be a decreased emphasis on the traditional idol image. The limited audience at the foray is to all adults, so it’s possible for more casual language or actions to occur. Just how in normal life, language or actions are limited when there are children present but can change drastically in their absence, this could be present at a rated concert. In essence, it’s a time for performers to breathe a little and enjoy the night, helping their audience enjoy it too. This isn’t to say that a concert has to be rated 19+ for adults to get some enjoyment out of the night. Far from it. YG Family concerts and concerts for individual SM groups, among others, prove to be exciting and very much entertaining with plenty of interaction with the crowds and enjoyment to spread.

What’s interesting is if other idol groups will want to walk down the path of a 19+ concert in the future. It’s difficult to say considering groups first have to last long enough for  the maturation of group and fans. Several of the more artistic or older idols seem to have a greater shot at successfully holding a 19+ concert. It’s daunting for younger groups, both in age and experience, to even think about such an event as their primary target demographic frequently is much lower than the group’s age. To make the attempt with appropriate material, more widespread acceptance or fans that you grow with are required. Groups such as Shinhwa, Super Junior, and Big Bang, all of which have a sizable amount of fans from different age groups perhaps could arrange for a more mature concert should they desire to go in that direction.

What would be unfortunate is if the 19+ concert becomes a tool for larger companies to unpleasantly lure older fans to enjoy oversexualized performances of their idols. I’d like to think it’d be a difficult concept to justify, but we’ve seen the bizarre happening in K-pop regarding age inappropriate concepts. The male gaze and objectification are topics we’ve talked about repeatedly and to great length here on Seoulbeats, so rather than turn into a broken record on the issue, I’ll leave it to what has been already well said on the topics.

In all honesty, what I’m curious about most is the content of the concerts and how what we’ve seen in teasers translates into music stages and their transitions. But how about you? What do you think of 19+ concerts? Are there any artists or groups that you’d like to see create a show that garners a 19+ rating?

(Korea Media Rating Board, officialBEG, Nega Network, JYP Entertainment, YG Entertainment, SM Entertainment)