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Korean Powerhouse Behind ‘Parasite’ Delivers Fan-Favorite Music Awards

MAMA 2020
Courtesy of CJ ENM

Last February, “Parasite” surprised the world, winning four Academy Awards: best original screenplay, best international feature film, best director, and the most coveted statuette, best picture.

It was a historic moment, as “Parasite” was the first international film to take home the Academy’s top prize — and the first Korean film to win Academy Awards in the country’s 101-year cinematic history.

While “Parasite’s” wins are one of the biggest film-industry stories of 2020, spurring conversation both on and offline, it also put the spotlight on CJ ENM, the South Korean media and entertainment company that backed the film. Then, last weekend, CJ ENM again made headlines with Asia’s biggest music awards show, the 2020 Mnet Asian Music Awards, seen by millions in more than 200 regions around the world.

It’s no accident that CJ ENM’s projects have that kind of global reach. Part of Korea’s CJ Group, CJ ENM is a global company that looks to support entertainment — television, film, music, animation and more — far beyond the Korean Peninsula.

CJ ENM has been pioneering the entertainment industry since 1995, it has invested in and/or developed many shows: “Parasite” may be the best known, but its credits include movies “Snowpiercer” and “Miss Granny”; TV show “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God”; entertainment shows “Grandpas Over Flowers” and “I Can See Your Voice”; and the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of “Kinky Boots.” CJ ENM is the first Korean company to be approved as a member of The Broadway League.

The company also operates 16 cable channels in Korea, more than any other company, including Mnet for music and tvN for general entertainment. It employs over 3,500 people and has 10 global offices in Asia, Europe and the U.S. It has used its reach to become a force behind the “Korean Wave,” aiming to be a bridge between global pop music and Korean artists, and MAMA is a key part of that push.

MAMA debuted in 2009. The show has been held in various locations across Asia, including Macao, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Korea. Last year, the live event attracted 44,000 fans to Japan’s Nagoya Dome to watch in person, plus millions more around the world tuned in via telecast.

MAMA has brought together the biggest artists in music and promoted exchanges between different music markets. More than 530 artists and presenters have appeared on the show, including 30-plus international artists. One unique feature that fans love: global superstars paired with K-pop stars for duets that can’t be seen anywhere else. The high-caliber performances and worldwide viewership of MAMA have helped build the global profile of Korean artists and have made MAMA a coveted platform.

Fans are invited to vote for the winners, and viewer participation has grown significantly. Vote counts for the 2020 MAMA doubled those from last year’s, with over 531 million. And throughout the show, MAMA trended on Twitter in 68 countries, including the U.S, U.K., Brazil and Japan. While this year’s MAMA telecast was virtual for the first time, it had the most impressive lineup of performances in the show’s history. In front of a global viewing audience, MAMA showcased K-pop and introduced the latest K-pop trends — and production innovations — to the world.

Besides the much-anticipated artist performances, fans also tune in to see groundbreaking numbers produced by the CJ ENM team, often using cutting-edge technology. This year, MAMA used some of Asia’s most advanced tech to showcase the telecast’s concept of “NEW-TOPIA,” where fans all over the world can connect with the power of music. To bring that concept to life, MAMA incorporated extended reality and augmented reality (using seven AR cameras for the first time at MAMA). Volumetric display technology was also used to make an absent group member join the stage to perform virtually. And each artist gets their own technology and graphics, so each performance is unique.

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Advanced technology such as the AR technology used to create fireworks, allows MAMA to produce mega stage performances Courtesy of MAMA

To bring the action closer to home and create one-of-a kind stages matching the concepts of each performance, the CJ ENM team also adopted Spidercams, a production tech more typically used for live sports.

Kim Hyun-Soo, head of the Convention & Live Entertainment Business Division at CJ ENM, says, “CJ ENM has already achieved many historical milestones in the entertainment industry, in addition to taking part in establishing memorable cultural phenomena that will be talked about for decades. From movies (“Parasite”) to dramas (“Crash Landing on You”) to music (2020 MAMA), CJ ENM will continue to create premium content that will bring Korean culture to a global audience.”