SEOUL, Aug. 2 (Korea Bizwire) – Rumors and speculation that China will retaliate against Korean cultural content for the recent THAAD battery deployment decision is rapidly spreading through the entertainment industry. And although the majority of the rumors have turned out to be false, the industry, which relies heavily on the export of K-pop and K-dramas to China, is on high alert.
Stories of Korean celebrities having film shoots for TV series and entertainment shows either delayed or cancelled started spreading last month. Rumors of concert cancellations or unilateral performance contract terminations on the part of Chinese companies have also been circulating, adding to the heightened concerns.
However, most of the rumors have been refuted by Korean entertainment companies. SM Entertainment said there have been “no changes to our artists’ schedules in China”, while YG Entertainment also said that their artists are “well in the middle of shooting in China with no signs of an unusual atmosphere.”
Still, industry watchers claim that while no official orders have yet been made by the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT), the possibility of restrictions on hallyu (Korean Wave) content by Chinese authorities still endures. And some speculate that ‘unofficial’ orders were made by the SARFT to China’s broadcast companies to not approve any broadcast or production of Korean content.
“It’s true that we’re hearing various rumors,” said Jang Young-hoon, CEO of MYM Entertainment. “And while these rumors have no factual basis, industry officials, artists, and actors are all paying close attention to the situation.”
MYM Entertainment is home to actor Lee Min-ho, who recently starred in the Korea-China joint venture film ‘Bounty Hunters’ which was a commercial success, grossing 9 billion won on the first day of release alone in China on July 1.
“Luckily for us, our movie premiered two weeks before the THAAD announcement, and was affected very little by the decision,” Jang added. “But we don’t know how our content will do in the future.”
Bae Kyoung-ryul, CEO of the Chinese agency IM Company, also denied that there had been any official movement in China to control hallyu content. However, he pointed out that there are instances in which projects under development are being stopped or postponed.
“I’m seeing ongoing projects and negotiations either being postponed or coming to a halt,” said Bae. “The Chinese side often proposes to ‘take some time to reassess’.”
“As much as there are rumors, there’s definitely an unusual business atmosphere. It’s certainly not the situation where we can relax and not worry. China’s ‘economic retribution’ that the media is talking about may soon be our reality.”
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)