China blocks streaming access to latest K-dramas in apparent retaliation over Thaad

A television still from Descendants Of The Sun, starring Song Hye Kyo and Song Joong Ki.
A television still from Descendants Of The Sun, starring Song Hye Kyo and Song Joong Ki. PHOTO: KBS WORLD

SEOUL - China has blocked access to the latest South Korean music and dramas on the country's online video sharing platforms in an apparent retaliation against Seoul's move to deploy an advanced US missile defence system, Yonhap news agency cited sources as saying on Sunday (Feb 26).

A website uploading South Korean dramas said on its Weibo social media account it would stop updating video clips of South Korean entertainment programmes for the time being, the agency reported.

"Everybody should be aware of the reason for this," the post said.

China has voiced strong opposition Seoul's decision last July to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) battery in South Korea to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

Beijing said the move will hamper its security interests.

Since October, Chinese authorities have stopped South Korean pop stars from appearing on Chinese entertainment programmes, Yonhap cited an industry source as saying.

"China has made regional satellite TV broadcasters suspend the airing of South Korean TV programs and give no permission for Korean stars to appear on Chinese TV shows," the source said.

South Korean TV programmes have enjoyed huge popularity on Chinese online video sharing platforms.

The South Korean romantic drama "Uncontrollably Fond" chalked up more than 4.1 billion views on China's largest online video portal Youku as of end-2016, according to a South Korean culture promotion agency.

The tally is close to the 4.4 billion view count of "Descendants of the Sun" aired via iQIYI, also an online video service.

But the South Korean industry official said China's clampdown may eventually hurt K-pop's reach in the country.

"Blocking access to streaming services is feared to deal a blow to (the Korean industry)."