China blocks access to streaming services of S. Korean pop culture amid THAAD row
BEIJING, Feb. 26 (Yonhap) -- China has blocked access to newly updated clips of South Korean music and dramas on the country's online video sharing platforms, sources said Sunday, in an apparent bid to retaliate against Seoul's move to deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense system.
The move followed China's decision to prevent South Korean pop stars from appearing on Chinese entertainment programs since October as South Korea decided in July last year to station the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on its soil.
A website uploading South Korean dramas said on its social media account on Weibo that it will stop updating video clips of South Korean entertainment programs for the time being.
"Everybody should be aware of the reason for this," it said, hinting at China's toughened restriction on Korean pop culture, widely known as "hallyu."
China has strongly opposed Seoul and Washington's decision to deploy a THAAD battery in South Korea to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threats. Beijing said the move will hamper its security interests.
"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," an industry official said. "Blocking access to streaming services is feared to deal a blow to (the Korean industry)."
Despite a row over THAAD, South Korean TV programs 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 if China keeps blocking updates of South Korean TV programs on its online video sharing platforms, it may affect the popularity of the South Korean pop culture in China, industry watchers said.