Relations between China and South Korea took a hit earlier this year after Seoul announced the deployment of an advanced US anti-missile system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense on its soil. While South Korea and the US argued the system would only be used to deter North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats, China protested the move as a serious threat to its security interests.
In the months that followed, a number of South Korean celebrities were reportedly forced to cancel their scheduled events in China, while various South Korean TV programs and films had to postpone their release in the country.
“Judging from what I’ve determined through various channels, the ban on Korean cultural products appears to be real,” said one source who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Chinese broadcasters have not only banned the appearance of South Korean entertainers, but also taken down commercials featuring them.”
The Chinese government has refused to verify rumors of the ban, although according to the sources, many Chinese enterprises have stopped applying for government permission for concerts or appearances by South Korean stars.
|A promotional image for Korean TV drama “Uncontrollably Fond,” for which China’s Hallyu ban is attributed for significantly lowering the viewership rating among Chinese fans, is shown. (KBS2)|
Before the THAAD decision, China was a huge market for South Korean cultural products mostly related to “Hallyu,” or the K-pop and K-dramas that have gained increasing popularity worldwide.
As Korean content took a hit, Japan’s cultural content has shown no signs of losing ground in China.
In fact, the Japanese animation film “Your Name” drew 2.24 million people Friday, breaking the opening day record for a two-dimensional animation in China. Moreover, local media have praised the film with top ratings and rave reviews.
“South Korea’s come under all kinds of pressure just with the THAAD issue. Japan has caused so many problems for China, but we see no indication of sanctions,” said another source.
China and Japan have long been involved in various historical and territorial disputes, with Tokyo recently indicating plans to intervene in the territorial spat in the South China Sea and consider its own deployment of a THAAD battery on its soil.
A source in the local entertainment industry said the difference in China’s response may be due to the sudden emergence of the THAAD issue after a period of close relations with South Korea.
“In the case of Japan, it has a long history of conflict with China,” he said. “If the territorial issue or THAAD deployment becomes serious, Japan could be hit as much as South Korea.”