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FEATURE: 1st Japanese CD in S. Korea to boost exchanges+.

TOKYO, April 16 Kyodo

Cultural exchanges between Japan and South Korea have been making steady progress since the first deregulation of Japanese popular culture in South Korea in 1998, according to Kiyomi Kaneko, secretary general of the Foundation for Promotion of Music Industry and Culture (Promic).

Yet obstacles remain for people in South Korea to enjoy Japanese songs freely due to government restrictions on Japanese popular culture.

Kaneko said he hopes a project involving Japanese and South Korean musicians now under way will lead to greater deregulation of Japanese culture and boost exchanges of music between Tokyo and Seoul.

Promic and its counterpart in South Korea agreed to make a CD featuring both Japanese and South Korean artists singing in their native languages. The two foundations in 1999 jointly established a task force, ''Project 2002,'' to promote the CD project.

The project marks the first time for a CD including songs sung in Japanese to be marketed in South Korea, where the government has imposed strict restrictions on Japanese culture in the wake of Japan's bans on Korean culture and language during its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

However, under the leadership of President Kim Dae Jung, who assumed the post in February 1998, the South Korean government has lifted the restrictions step by step, allowing internationally acclaimed Japanese films and comic books into the country in October the same year.

Nevertheless, the sale of CDs of Japanese songs remains prohibited and Japanese songs cannot be aired on radio or television programs.

But, surprisingly the South Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism decided to allow the release of the CD in February as an exception on the grounds the sales will promote exchanges between Japan and South Korea and contribute to the success of World Cup 2002, to be co-hosted by the two countries.

Numerous well-known artists from both countries are participating in the project. Among the Japanese artists are the four all-male pop groups Tube, Chage & Aska, Pornographity and Deen, female duo Puffy and pop diva Yuki Koyanagi.

Six South Korean artists including pop group Jawoorim and male singer Jo Sung Mo are participating in the project.

According to Promic, all 12 will sing in their native languages, with a few duets between the Japanese and South Korean performers also in the works.

Kaneko, 56, said Tube is showing strong interest in the project, adding that the group is considering a duet with a South Korean musician. Some songs are likely to be specially written for the CD while others will be compiled from the musicians' original albums.

Kaneko downplayed the turmoil over a newly approved Japanese history textbook that critics in South Korea say distorts Japan's wartime aggression.

Even President Kim knows about the project, as it was discussed in meetings between Kim and Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, last September, he said.

The CD, which will hit stores in late July simultaneously in both countries, will be priced at 2,500 yen in Japan by Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. In South Korea, a CD and VCD set will sell for 20,000 won (about 2,000 yen) and a cassette 7,000 won.

Although the South Korean government allowed the release of the CD as it will promote success of World Cup 2002, soccer's world governing body FIFA will not allow the songs on the CD to be sung at World Cup events.

Kaneko said, ''The most important thing is that the first CD including Japanese songs will be sold in South Korea.''

The number of shipments of the CD is yet to be decided, Kaneko said, adding that it will probably sell five times more in South Korea than in Japan since South Korean musicians are not well known in Japan.

A part of the profit from the CD sales is expected to be donated for promoting musical exchanges between the two countries.

The title and a basic concept of the CD will be the same, but cover designs and order of songs may vary in each country, Kaneko said. The title of the CD and all songs to be included are expected to be officially announced in late May.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Apr 23, 2001
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