Singer de­nied en­try into ja­pan; no rea­son given

JoongAng Daily - - National - BY SARAH KIM sarahkim@joongang.co.kr

Korea’s Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs said it was re­gret­table that veteran singer Lee Se­ung-chul was de­nied en­try on Sun­day into Ja­pan, es­pe­cially if the re­jec­tion was mo­ti­vated by a per­for­mance he gave on Dokdo, Korea’s east­ern­most islets that are also claimed by Tokyo.

Lee, who shot to star­dom as the main vo­cal­ist of Korean rock band Boohwal in the 1980s, was held at Haneda Air­port in Tokyo with his wife for four hours by the coun­try’s im­mi­gra­tion of­fice on Sun­day be­fore be­ing de­nied en­try into Ja­pan.

He was not given a spe­cific rea­son for the re­jec­tion.

Lee was re­port­edly vis­it­ing Ja­pan upon the invitation of an a c q u a i n t a n c e there but was later forced to re­turn to Korea.

His agency, Jin&Won Mu­sic Works, said in a state­ment that the de­nial of en­try ap­peared to be a “re­tal­ia­tory mea­sure” against Lee’s per­for­mance on Dokdo, which drew back­lash in the Ja­panese me­dia.

The 47-year-old singer held a mini­con­cert on Aug. 14 — a day be­fore Korea’s Lib­er­a­tion Day, which cel­e­brates the end of Ja­panese colo­nial rule over the penin­sula — on Dokdo, where he sang a song about the islets, which Ja­pan calls Takeshima.

Korea de­nies that there is a ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute with Ja­pan over Dokdo.

Of­fi­cials from the Korean Em­bassy in Tokyo re­quested that Ja­panese of­fi­cials ex­plain the rea­son­ing be­hind Lee’s de­nial, the For­eign Min­istry here said yes­ter­day.

“How­ever, the Ja­panese au­thor­i­ties said it was a ‘cus­tom­ary prac­tice,’” and that it could not re­veal the rea­son be­hind de­nial of en­try for the singer “as ac­cord­ing to pro­tec­tion of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion,” said Noh Kwang-il, a spokesman for the For­eign Min­istry.

Lee told JTBC in an in­ter­view on Mon­day, “From what I can see, it was about Dokdo.”

Korean celebri­ties have been de­nied en­try into Ja­pan in the past for sim­i­larly un­ex­plained rea­sons.

Popular Korean ac­tor Song Il-guk was pro­hib­ited from en­ter­ing Ja­pan in 2012 after he par­tic­i­pated in a re­lay swimming event to Dokdo to help pub­li­cize Korea’s claim over the islets.

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