China has been one of the top consumers of hallyu, or Korean pop culture, but a recent policy move by South Korean President Park Geun-hye looks set to change that.
In July, Seoul agreed to host a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD)—advanced American missile defense technology—to better defend itself against North Korea's constant military threats. Beijing has long voiced opposition to THAAD, saying its deployment on the Korean Peninsula threatened Chinese national security interests.
In retaliation to the July decision, China banned the airing of Korean television content, media widely reported in August. At the time, sources at TV stations in Guangdong told the South China Morning Post that new approvals for programs featuring Korean stars would not be granted in the near future.
Yonhap News reported on Tuesday that coverage of Korean celebrities and reviews of Korean films have virtually disappeared from mainland media, adding that a Chinese company was fined $14,500 for trying to push a K-pop performance without gaining government approval.
Beijing has yet to confirm the K-pop freeze however. At a press conference on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said he had not heard about any television restrictions regarding Korean pop stars and did not mention the apparent ban on performances.