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A popular Korean drama failed to air in China due to superstition

A popular Korean drama failed to air in China due to superstition

Posted March. 12, 2014 06:19,   


“My Love from the Star” is a Korean drama that created a craze in China. Although the drama was the envy of Chinese politicians, it had a critical “weakness” to be aired in China. Do Min-joon (the main character played by Kim Soo-hyun) is an alien who is older than 400 years. The Chinese government in charge of media bans “propagating superstitions” such as aliens, ghosts, and previous life in movies and dramas under its rule. “The Restless,” a movie filmed in China and co-produced by Korea and China in 2006, was banned due to its story of souls staying in mid-heaven.

China is also known to be sensitive to sexual expressions, violence and non-scientific matters. A Korean network employee in charge of exporting media products said, “As China does not have a film rating system based on age, all movies and shows have to be acceptable to all ages. So, there are many constraints.”

Nevertheless, huge popularity of “My Love from the Star” in the country can be attributed to the video service on the Internet and mobile devices. A few years ago, Korean drama production companies started to tap into the online market to enter the Chinese market. A source of the business said, “As Korean dramas grew popular after the mid-2000s, China strengthened regulations on non-Chinese dramas. But the Internet does not have a prior screening process.” As a result, the broadcasting “time difference” disappeared. The episode aired on Wednesday evening in Korea is uploaded on a video website with Chinese subtitles on early Thursday morning.

As Korea targets the new media popular to young Chinese people, their favorite genre has changed. “They used to like family dramas or historical dramas such as `What Is Love’ or ‘Dae Jang Geum.’ Now, they are fascinated by trendy dramas like ‘The Heirs,’” said Yoon Jae-shik, deputy head of the industry information team of Korea Creative Content Agency, said. “While Japanese fans are in their 40s and 50s, Chinese fans are younger. They consume Korea’s latest culture through dramas.”

It had long been believed in Korea that it is almost impossible to earn huge money in the Chinese market. According to the Korea Creative Content Agency, however, Korea’s export volume of media contents to China is 11 million dollars as of 2012, which is less than 10 percent of Japan (112.08 million dollars). The obstacle was the content distribution structure including knock-off DVDs and illegal downloading. With the increasing online market in China, there are growing expectations for the second wave of Korean dramas based on the Chinese market. A 70-minute episode, which was sold at 20 million won (18,700 dollars) in 2012, doubled after China had a fad for “My Love from the Star.” “Three Days,” an SBS drama which is now aired in Korea, is said to have been sold at 50 million won (46,950 dollars) per episode for online copyrights.

Still, the Chinese government’s regulation is a concern. It is strengthening regulations on Korean dramas. HB Entertainment, the producer of “My Love from the Star,” is said to be in consideration of changing the setting that the main character is an alien in order to sell the media copyrights. Otherwise, the drama cannot be aired on Chinese televisions.

Some say that Beijing, which is ramping up Internet censorship, will increase the scope of regulations to include online video contents with the launch of an agency governing Internet policies. A source from a drama production company said, “As the government regulation is a huge barrier to the entry of the Chinese market, the Korean government needs to consider ways to reduce the import barrier of media contents in China.”