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Screening of Korean movies on OTT in China

Posted November. 23, 2022 07:48,   

Updated November. 23, 2022 07:48


For the first time in six years since the ban on Hallyu was put in place in China, a Chinese over-the-top (OTT) service played a Korean movie. The South Korean Presidential Office said, “(on the 15th) this showing signifies as China’s reciprocal OTT measures for the recent Korea-China summit.”

On Tuesday, "Hotel by the River" (2018) by director Hong Sang-soo is being screened under the title "Jiāng biān lǚguǎn (江邊旅館)" on China's Tencent Video. Following the approval by China's State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television, “Hotel by the River” has been available from the beginning of this month,” said Jeong Min-young, chief representative of the Korean Film Council’s China Office. “After the ban on Hallyu had been implemented during the THAAD conflict, it is the first time that a Korean movie has been uploaded to one of China's three major OTT platforms - Tencent, Youku, and iQiyi.”

Since 2016, China has put in place a ban on Hallyu to block imports of dramas, movies, advertisements, and games starring Korean celebrities in opposition to Korea's THAAD deployment. Regarding uploading director Hong's movie on Tencent Video, some translate it as a sign that the ban is being lifted.

On this move, the South Korean President's Office emphasized that it was thanks to the first face-to-face meeting in three years between the leaders of Korea and China in Bali, Indonesia, which has opened the door to cooperation again. “President Yoon Suk-yeol emphasized the importance of cultural and people-to-people exchanges and the need for communication at the Korea-China summit on the 15th, and China has reciprocated this sentiment as its President Xi Jinping concurred with him,” said Kim Eun-hye, senior secretary for public relations at the President’s Office.

However, many observers say, “It is too early to interpret this as a full-fledged lift,” given that only a few recent films have been distributed “piecemeal.” When the ban was implemented, the distribution of Korean cultural products was blocked at once.

In December of last year, "Oh! My Gran" (directed by Jeong Se-gyo), starring Na Mun-hee and Lee Hee-joon, was released in mainland China. This was the first Korean film screening in six years, and there was anticipation that more Korean films would be released in the future, but there has been no additional release for nearly a year since then. A source in Beijing said, “For several years, Korean films have not been able to enter the Chinese market. It will be difficult for Korean films to wield the same influence as in the past in China.”

Su-Young Hong gaea@donga.com