South Korea’s decision to deploy the US-developed THAAD missile shield — protecting itself from its neighbors up north — has sparked outrage from Chinese officials. So much so that China has retaliated by banning all Korean forms of entertainment from the mainland… or at least that’s what the rumors are saying
After days of wondering whether the hearsay was true, no official statement confirming the supposed ban has been released and no changes have been made to TV scheduling, ECNS reports, adding that the co-stars of the popular Korean TV drama “Uncomfortably Fond” — Kim Woo-bin and Bae Suz — are still set to greet fans in China on August 6th. Meanwhile, another South Korean TV drama is reportedly scheduled to start airing at the end of the month.
Still, there does seem to be something fishy going on. Earlier this week SCMP reported that China is “tightening up on the use of Korean stars in TV dramas.” Two sources at TV stations in Guangdong told the paper that new programs featuring South Korean stars would not be granted approval by China’s top media watchdog.
“They told us to postpone any plans for new programmes that involve South Korean stars or copyright for South Korean TV shows,” one source said. “They said we would not get approval, even if we made such plans.”
If this ban is in fact real, you would think that addicted Chinese audiences would push back against it, Korean music and television dramas are insanely popular in the Middle Kingdom. However, according to the nationalistic tabloid, the Global Times, the vast majority are willing to place “nationality above entertainment.” A poll on Weibo found that over 86% of the 280,000 people polled said that they would support a government ban on South Korean entertainers. [Note: Shanghaiist can’t actually find this poll. Anybody else?]
Interestingly enough, back in 2014, a Chinese woman suffered a heart attack after staying up late to watch the ultra-popular Korean drama “My Love From the Star.” The woman, a Guangdong delegate to the CCPPC, then made it her mission to turn viewers on to more domestic programming, lamenting that Korean drama obsession was hurting China’s “cultural self-esteem.” Mission failed… until now?
Of course, if it really does go into effect, does that mean that China will have to rely on North Korea for entertainment?
By Robin Winship