Lady Gaga wows S. Koreans as global tour kicks off

US pop diva Lady Gaga wowed tens of thousands of South Koreans at the opening show of her global tour Friday with signature flamboyant outfits and a provocative performance.

The star dazzled some 50,000 fans at the Olympic stadium in Seoul, with the audience wearing paper bracelets reading "18 above" issued by organisers in response to Seoul banning under-18s attending.

The limit was imposed after a state ratings board judged the much-anticipated concert unsuitable for younger audiences, and ticket-holders had to present ID cards to enter the venue.

Lady Gaga rode onto the stage on horseback, wearing a glittering black bodysuit and an enormous black metal headpiece as screaming fans waved thousands of glowing sticks and chanted her name.

"I was told that your government decided that my shows should be 18 or over... So, I'll make sure it will be!" Lady Gaga shouted, to cheers from the crowd.

The professional provocateur's show included throwing dancers and herself into a giant fake meat grinder and staging scenes of machine gun fire and simulated group and lesbian sex.

The concert was the first in her "Born This Way Ball" tour, which will visit several Asian countries before going on to Australasia and Europe later this year.

It follows the success of her album "Born This Way," which has sold nearly six million copies worldwide since it was released in May 2011.

The "Poker Face" and "Bad Romance" singer belted out more than 20 hits in a 100-minute show on a stage featuring a castle-shaped structure topped with an illuminated cross.

The star, rated one of the 100 most influential fashion icons by the US magazine Time, showed off some 10 different outfits, ranging from a dress and a pair of heels fashioned out of raw meat to a skirt made of a piano keyboard.

Before the concert, dozens of Lady Gaga lookalikes in extravagant costumes inspired by the singer took souvenir pictures as hordes of fans waited in line outside the stadium, which was guarded by police and security guards.

Some male fans wore leather corsets over black and white suits and black sunglasses with metal spikes, while scores of others put on facepaint to honour the singer known for her otherworldly dress sense.

The concert prompted opposition from religious groups who accuse Lady Gaga of advocating homosexuality and pornography.

The Korean Association of Church Communication vowed last month to take "concerted action to stop young people from being infected with homosexuality and pornography" by the US star's concert.

Outside the stadium on Friday, two foreign Christian protesters held placards reading "Lady Gaga. Go home!" and "Sexual purity, virginity, fidelity", while about 20 South Korean Christian activists prayed.

In another part of Seoul about 100 Christian activists gathered for a rally.

"Lady Gaga... is a wounded soul that is in desperate need of restoration. Therefore Christians should love and bless her. We should hate the evil spirit behind her, not Lady Gaga herself," they said in a leaflet.

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