Beijing blacklisting Korean acts

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Beijing blacklisting Korean acts

As China and Korea continue to squabble over Seoul’s decision to deploy a U.S.-led anti-missile system, Beijing appeared to play a card that many feared: hurting Korea economically.

Several Korean celebrities have announced that engagements in China were canceled or postponed, most at very short notice.

Entertainment sources fear retribution for Seoul agreeing to deploy the controversial Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system by the end of next year, a move Beijing described as “breaking the strategic balance in Northeast Asia, threatening if not dooming regional peace and stability with the possible onset of a new Cold War.”

A public appearance at Beijing Olympic Park for Korean stars Suzy and Kim Woo-bin, the leads in the KBS drama “Uncontrollably Fond,” was indefinitely postponed last Wednesday, barely three days before the so-called fan meeting. Many fans were expected to attend.

The Chinese promoter said the delay was due to an “uncontrollable reason.” Local media suggested it was related to the Thaad issue.

Wassup, a seven-member girl group, said they were planning to hold a concert in Jiangsu province, China, for some 30,000 guests last Friday, but was told by organizers that it would be canceled. The announcement came Wednesday. The group’s talent agency said it didn’t know the reason.

China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television did not reply to the JoongAng Ilbo’s repeated queries about whether the cancellations were related to Thaad.

One executive-level source from a Chinese production company said under the condition of anonymity that he received a call from the government agency a few days before Seoul officially announced it would deploy the anti-missile system.

He was told that it “would be good” if the Chinese company refrained from signing deals with Korean show biz acts.

“I was told it was the state’s ‘recommendation,’” the source said, “but in reality, I have no other choice but to take it as an order and follow through.”

Some 280,000 people participated in an online survey on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, asking whether they would approve of the Chinese government’s decision to ban Korean celebrities from television, and roughly 86 percent responded “yes.”

BY YEH YOUNG-JUNE [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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