There are concerns that the preference for Korean culture in China may decrease.
While Korean content is gaining popularity around the world, with Netflix’s original series “Squid Game” creating a global syndrome, China has issued a warning against the Korean Wave. People have been worried that the spread of the Korean Wave in China could be restricted by the massive “Qinglang (disorderly online fandom regulation)” campaign that performed on KPOP.
There have been voices calling for the improvement of qualities not only in the expansion of the Korean Wave but also in creating a healthy culture to accept the Korean Wave.
According to sources in related industries on September 28, the fanclub Weibo account of the global star BTS Jimin was suspended for 60 days earlier this month. More than 20 other KPOP fanclub accounts of celebrities, including IU, EXO, and NCT,etc were also suspended for 30 to 60 days. In addition, as KPOP idol fanclub accounts are often made by attaching “Bar” to the idols’ names, like “JiminBar”, many accounts have been forced to change their names and deleted the “bar” part.
This is because the ‘online Korean Wave purification’ campaign started in China. This year, the Chinese Government has been dealing with many problematic celebrities and issues, such as tax evasion, in the entertainment industry. Therefore, they aimed at KPOP as an example because it is interpreted as a result of the judgment that the Korean Wave and Korean fandom culture affected the Chinese cultural market.
The recent dominance of K-content is so significant that China is worried about the spread of the Korean Wave. According to the Bank of Korea, Korea’s intellectual property trade balance in the first half of this year was 850 million dollars, the largest ever surplus. This is because exports of culture and arts content, such as movies, dramas, and webtoons, as well as music (with BTS as the representative), have increased. Moreover, even in China, where Netflix is not serviced, Korean drama series such as “D.P” and “Squid Game” are so popular because they were illegally distributed.
Among all the content, China Government worried the most about KPOP, the origin of Korean Wave content. This is because the fandom culture participated by young generations is spreading widely. It is reported that when Kris Wu, who used to be a member of EXO and worked in Korea, was arrested for sexual crimes, his fans even protested against public security. In addition, BTS Jimin’s fan account also planned to cover a Jeju Air’s plane with Jimin’s photo as a birthday event for their idol.
Despite the regulations, KPOP fans in China seem to disagree with the authority’s position. The Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange (KOFICE) recently conducted an interview with an exchanged Chinese graduate student. This student said, “This regulation did raise the alarm for the wrong fandom culture. However, the disadvantage is it also limits normal fan culture. The simplest way of enjoying the fandom culture has also been banned, and I don’t think the authorities have the right to interfere with personal freedom.”
In fact, the problem is that China is blaming K-pop for the culture of supporting celebrities. Earlier, the Chinese media Global Times reported, “Korea is the origin of the Chinese idol fandom culture. Therefore, Korean stars cannot be excluded from the ‘cleanup’ campaign conducted by the Chinese Government.”
As a result, negative perceptions about KPOP and the Korean Wave have been spread, and it is pointed out that it is necessary to manage the factors that hold off the Korean Wave in foreign countries, such as China. An official at the Promotion Agency said, “In order to expand the Korean Wave, healthy fandom culture exchange and positive Korean Wave’s content should be accompanied. A healthy fan culture will bring meaningful things, such as when Korean and Chinese fans used to unite to donate under the name of Korean stars in the past.”