According to an exclusive report by 'Dispatch' on December 11, the '2020 Mnet Asian Music Awards' is now under fire for exposing K-Pop artists to severe levels of dust particles (PM or particle matter) during artists' performance recordings.
Many of the K-Pop artists who performed during the '2020 MAMA' carried out their rehearsals and main stage recordings in the weeks prior to the full award ceremony. The '2020 MAMA' took place at the CJ ENM Contents World located in Paju, a construction site expected to be completed in 2023. Performance recordings for the '2020 MAMA' took place in one of two completed buildings on site, 'Studio 6'. Each performing artist took to the stage at least two times, coming on and off the stage and the set for a duration of at least 4 hours.
'Dispatch' reporters decided to visit the CJ ENM Contents World to investigate the conditions under which K-Pop artists performed and carried out their recordings. One idol 'A' reportedly told 'Dispatch' regarding the building where they recorded their performance, "It was a new building. But one staff member cried out in alarm when I was there. They said that their white mask turned black [from the dust]."
Construction for the CJ ENM Contents World began in the latter half of 2019. Two out of ten buildings have currently been completed. The site is still a busy construction zone, with signs posted on the perimeter including "Caution: snakes", "Caution: fire hazards", and "Warning: drop hazards".
'Dispatch' reporters noted that the "parking lot waiting area" where most of the performing artists waited during the main '2020 MAMA' ceremony was mostly a dirt field. One idol told the news outlet, "The parking lot was dirt and sand. There was dust everywhere every time a car moved. We couldn't roll down the windows."
Another idol group member said, "There was construction going on all over the place during our pre-recorded stage. There was so much dust, it was difficult to deal with. My throat really hurt that day."
The 'Dispatch' reporters who visited the site observed that Studio 5 and Studio 6 were entirely cleared out after the '2020 MAMA' ceremony. Construction workers were busy carrying out their jobs. The reporters noted that the dust levels were indeed severe, impairing sight and breathing. Despite that factors such as stage effects and equipment had been completely cleared out, the 'Dispatch' reporters still found it hard to breath. They noticed their throats hurting from inhaling the dust right away.
An affiliate from one idol group commented, "The dust particles were very severe during the recordings. My nose itched so I scratched it, and dark matter came away on my fingers. People's white masks turned black." However, during their rehearsals and recordings, K-Pop artists did not wear masks, being exposed completely to the dust in the air. According to idol 'A', "I lit up the stage and the inside of my nose."
When 'Dispatch' asked CJ ENM to comment, the company simply responded, "We cooperated 100% with all artists throughout the 'MAMA'. We also used a sprinkler truck to keep dust levels to a minimum." But representatives from the K-Pop artists felt differently. They claimed that there were rehearsals and pre-recordings taking place until the morning of the ceremony. One insider said, "There were pre-recordings until the day of the event. They then removed the sets used for the pre-recordings and set up the live ceremony set immediately before the event. You wonder if they really had time to clear away the dust from all of that activity in that short amount of time."
According to a representative from the city of Paju CJ ENM did receive approval from the city to carry out filming in Studio 5 and Studio 6, the two completed buildings at CJ ENM Contents World. However, dust particle levels at the construction site of CJ ENM Contents World have not undergone checkups since the construction first began in 2019.
One industry insider raised sharp criticism against CJ ENM and 'MAMA'. They remarked, "It's like they see idols as nothing more than stage props. If they really were thinking of the artists, they should not have allowed recordings to take place under those circumstances. It's literally a construction site concert."