IU, central axis of penetrating Chinese market after “Korean Wave Ban”
Chinese fans are showing great interest in singer IU.
IU’s popularity in China is still explosive. One example is what happened when a famous Taiwanese influencer with 860,000 followers rudely grabbed IU’s wrist at a fashion show held recently in Korea. Fans criticized the influencer for what she did to IU, and she eventually apologized. Hundreds of local fans gathered at the airport to see IU, who visited China in 2018, at a time when a cold wind blew in the Korean Wave in China due to the aftermath of the conflict over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in the Korean Peninsula.
In fact, the desperate desire of Chinese fans who want to see IU in person and get information about her is still shown in action. Recently, IU’s Chinese fandom held a truck protest near her agency Edam Entertainment in Songpa-gu, Seoul. This protest erupted due to the Chinese fandom’s dissatisfaction that managing IU was neglected.
IU is a popular star not only in Korea but also in China. She reduced his activities in Japan and turned to China from 2014. She received positive responses in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and held solo concerts there. However, after the conflict between Korea and China, IU did not show much progress in China and her influence was not properly demonstrated.
However, with HyunA announcing her participation in an upcoming music festival in Wuhan, China, next month, the door to the Chinese market is starting to show signs of opening. Accordingly, IU and other Korean artists are likely to become more active.
In fact, IU’s agency even said, “Although no contracts have been signed yet, there have been offers from Chinese broadcasters and music programs, including festivals“, adding, “If the situation and conditions align, we will resume activities in China at any time.”
Kim Sung Soo, a pop culture critic, stated, “IU already has a fandom in the Chinese-speaking region and has a very favorable image as a singer and an actress. In the somewhat conservative Chinese entertainment industry, IU is a suitable figure. She does not perform unconventional songs and actions, but sings and acts with a clean image, so there is no factor that makes people feel reluctant to the Hallyu Wave. This is why IU is popular there.”
He also explained that IU is an artist who can actively create a boom in the Chinese market should restrictions regarding the “Hallyu ban” start to loosen.
In addition, if large-scale artists like IU hold concerts in Chinese venues as the “Hallyu ban” gradually lifts, it will be easier for other Korean artists to target the Chinese market.
Regarding this, pop critic Ha Jae Keun commented, “IU is not only a singer but also has a remarkable recognition as an actress, making her highly symbolic. IU’s actions will become a significant issue in the local scene and can influence the entire industry. It may also increase the favorability towards Korean culture among local mainstream music fans and enhance the recognition of Kpop’s artistic value.”
The Chinese-speaking market is an indispensable part. As IU has gained a good reputation and significant popularity in the local market, there is a high possibility that her popularity will rise accordingly. An official from IU’s agency, EDAM Entertainment, revealed, “IU has not had any schedules in the Chinese-speaking region for the past few years. However, inquiries about organizing concerts or participating in major events in the Chinese-speaking industry have been consistently coming.“
They also revealed an open stance on the Chinese market by adding, “If there comes a time when we can fit the Chinese-speaking schedule in consideration of commitments in Korea, we will proceed”.
On the other hand, the official website of EDAM Entertainment, IU’s agency, provides translations in Korean, English, and Chinese, indicating their consideration for the Chinese-speaking fandom. The absence of Japanese, which is one of the central countries in the Hallyu wave, further confirms the importance of the Chinese-speaking market for IU. Attention is drawn to what steps IU will take for her Chinese-speaking fandom, along with the “Hallyu ban”.