Although restrictions on South Korean pop stars’ activities in China have not yet been formally rolled out, the country with pop stars loved by Chinese audience now has sensed a wind of change blowing through. China’s state regulator of radio, film and television productions has gained widespread support from netizens this time, unlike its controversial previous bans on overseas and Taiwan soap operas.
Recent days have seen a list of entertainment productions making rounds on the Internet, indicating that 42 stars featuring in the plays may be banned. On August 3, Korea’s entertainment industry experienced the impact, with major companies’ stocks falling by around 2.15 trillion yuan.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television soon reacted to the ban news, signaling they would purposely restrict Korean entertainers’ activities in China, although it is not called a ban but a tightening of the approval policy.
An industry insider told sino-us.com the so-called Xianhanling (ban on Korea) is not only linked to the THADD system which has attracted overwhelming public indignation from China, but also to China’s regulation and control of its cultural sector. There are concerns that besides Korean entertainers, the ban or tightening policies would cause losses for cultural industries in both countries.
Besides the entertainment industry, Korean tourist attractions and electronic products that used to be loved by Chinese consumers are also experiencing a slowdown in sales. With multiple events involving Korean stars having been cancelled or suspended in China, Korean stars, Chinese fans and entertainment moguls behind the scene are all feeling the heat of the “ban Korea” sentiment.
Many mainstream Chinese media, amid public outcry against South Korea’s decision to deploy THAAD, have urged a series of economic sanctions on the THAAD region. Among the fields that feature close bilateral exchanges, entertainment ranks the top.
Bloomberg news reported that most entertainment and consumption companies listed in South Korea stock markets have suffered from major declines recently, also including those invested by Alibaba and Tencent.
‘No idol is above national interest’
“Good job”, “We’ve got your back”, “It’s time for Chinese entertainment to rise up,” messages like these sum up the mood of the public these days.
Till now, an online poll titled “Do you support boycott of Korean stars?” has gained over 300,000 responses, and 87% of them support the ban. “No idol is above national interest” has become their slogan.
Besides the “cultural sanctions”, Chinese officials and citizens are also taking steps to boycott tourist and electronic products from South Korea.
Due to mass cancellation of reservations, a cultural event targeting Chinese tourists called “Fried chicken and beer” now being held in Daegu, one of the largest cities in South Korea, has ended up in failure.
China’s Ministry of Commerce is beginning to investigate dumping of acrylic and electrical steel products by South Korean exporters in China. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology just announced that due to security concerns, China’s government would not consider LG and Samsung as eligible producers of power battery.
“I think they deserve it. The punishment would definitely go beyond boycotting one or two soap opera stars,” a Chinese netizen commented.
Who will suffer?
There is no doubt that many Chinese companies are also affected by the restrictions on their Korean partners.
Based on reports of Korean media, between 2010 and 2015, Chinese companies totally invested around 170 billion yuan into cyber games, network and performing arts in South Korea. Korean entertainment moguls including the famous SM, YG, CJ, and JYP all have strategic partners or capital connections with China. Based on incomplete statistics of 2016, China and South Korea have jointly produced 53 TV series with minimum investment for each exceeding 50 million yuan.
Some industry insiders believe many big Chinese investors have acquired assets in South Korean entertainment sector. Once the ban goes into force, the companies would face considerable losses, with stock prices falling and joint projects failing.
One insider said, “About the ban on South Korea, the thing worth considering is that should the market take the brunt of a political fallout?”