Officials from China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television have allegedly passed down “verbal orders” to TV stations that approvals for South Korean programmes or those featuring South Korean stars would not be granted for the time being, reported South China Morning Post on 2 August 2016.
Further, according to the new guidelines, South Korean pop acts “are not allowed to have any concerts with more than 10,000 fans”, reported the Korea Herald on 2 August 2016.
Sources suspect the ban is political, rather than based on content, and is linked to South Korea having agreed to work with the US to deploy missile shield system THAAD (Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence), a step that China has publicly criticised.
“They told us to postpone any plans for new programmes that involve South Korean stars or copyright for Korean TV shows,” a source from a TV station in Guangdong province told South China Morning Post.
Another source confirmed that there haven’t been any written orders from the administration, but that “people in the industry are quite worried and many have said they would avoid taking on any work that involves South Korean dramas”.
The ban would not affect any programmes that are currently being broadcast or have already been approved.
Official or not, shows and stars are being affected
While the state agency hasn’t given out an official order, various news sources report the ban is indeed in place.
Several South Korean companies have said China’s Film Bureau told their Chinese partners that co-productions would not be approved, reported Variety on 4 August 2016.
The New York Times reported on 7 August 2016 that the Chinese company Youku postponed a fan event in Beijing with South Korean TV stars after the company received a police notice suggesting they delay the event.
Additionally, two concerts by South Korean boy band EXO scheduled to be held in Shanghai this month have also been cancelled.
According to a “blacklist” circulated online on Chinese news site NetEase, the ban would affect 42 South Korean stars and 53 TV programmes, reported The Epoch Times on 9 August 2016.
UPDATE: South Korea’s exports of cultural products – TV programmes, music, movies, performances, etc. – have dropped by 21.7% in the third quarter of 2016, which is possibly attributed to China’s unofficial ban on the country’s art and media, reported The Korea Herald on 12 December 2016. China is one of the largest importers of South Korean cultural products.
The newspaper further reported that, according to China’s Ministry of Culture website, no South Korean artist has been given permission to peform in China since October 2016.
A history of political pressure
This would not be the first time that China cancels or forces changes to artists and their work based on political standpoints, including on topics such as Hong Kong, Taiwan or Tibet.
The country has forbidden numerous international musicians, most recently Lady Gaga in June 2016 and Selena Gomes in April 2016, to play concerts in the country due to their stance on Tibet or for meeting the Dalai Lama.
China has also exerted pressure on art galleries to remove work that calls attention to such taboo subjects, most recently in Bangladesh in February 2016 when a Chinese ambassador took offense to an art exhibit in Dhaka featuring works on Tibet that were quickly pulled down.
Photo from popular South Korean 2016 TV drama ‘Descendants of the Sun’
» The Korea Herald – 12 December 2016:
Korea’s exports of cultural products plunge amid THAAD row
» The Japan Times – 10 August 2016:
Pop stars, diplomacy victims of cooling China-Korea ties
» The Epoch Times – 9 August 2016:
K-Pop stars become scapegoats in China’s protests against anti-missile deployment
» The New York Times – 7 August 2016:
South Korean missile defense deal appears to sour China’s taste for K-Pop
» International Business Times – 5 August 2016:
Why is China banning South Korean dramas and pop stars?
» K Music – 5 August 2016:
China is banning Hallyhu stars on television amid missile defence dispute
» Variety – 4 August 2016:
China reportedly bans Korean TV content, talent
» Inquisitr – 3 August 2016:
Song Joong-Ki, Lee Min-Ho to be banned: Dramas like ‘Descendants of the Sun’ in trouble
» Korea Herald – 2 August 2016:
YG Entertainment denies Yoo In-na was dropped from Chinese series
» South Chine Morning Post – 2 August 2016:
China ‘tightening up on use of South Korean stars in TV dramas’, sources say, in wake of missile shield row
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» 6 July 2016: China: American singer banned due to Dalai Lama meeting
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» 17 February 2016: Bangladesh: Tibetan art exhibit censored under Chinese pressure
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