“Gangnam Style” singer Psy and K-pop group iKON were blurred or cut from reality show “Ganshi Yingxiong,” broadcast by Chinese regional TV channel Jiangsu Television on Sunday. The move is growing evidence of punitive action by the Chinese government against the Korean entertainment industry.
The action was reported by state-controlled Chinese tabloid newspaper The Global Times, which said that talk of a ban on the Korean cultural industry appears to be in retaliation for the Korean government’s decision to deploy U.S.-made THAAD missile defense systems.
The Global Times also reported that a Chinese company that brings Korean talent to China had been told of a ban and had severed contact with South Korean partner companies as a result. “There are no papers. The message probably passed through word of mouth. Everyone in this industry knows this,” an agent known as Jia told the paper.
It also cited the example of Guangdong-based media failing to get broadcast approval for any programs involving South Korean talent.
One producer said that a completed co-production film had received approval from regional censors, but had failed to win approval at national level. It was unclear whether the film had been permanently denied a release in China, or whether final approval was instead being indefinitely delayed.
The battery of actions against a neighbor’s cultural industry, as reprisal for a political and military decision, represents a change in the use of China’s soft power. It also reverses the growing recent trend towards co-operation between the Korean and Chinese entertainment industries, which had involved co-production, co-development, remakes and lots of on-screen talent.