Beijing’s dam against Hallyu proves to be full of cracks

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Beijing’s dam against Hallyu proves to be full of cracks

China’s Internet users have kept up their interest in Korean entertainment despite Beijing’s politically motivated restrictions on viewing cultural content from the Asian neighbor, a big data analysis showed Tuesday.

Cafe24, a provider of web hosting and e-commerce solutions, said its research of Baidu index, provided by China’s biggest portal of the same name, indicated that content searches for Korean cultural products did not show a significant drop between August and the end of last year.

Korea-China relations have been strained by Seoul’s decision to host a U.S. missile defense shield system, Thaad, a move Beijing says is a direct security affront to China. Beijing reacted by limiting exchanges in culture, tourism and entertainment with Seoul, disallowing Korean celebrities’ promotional activities in China and the viewing of Korean programs.

The monthly Baidu index, drawn by measuring the frequency of specific searches by portal users, said searches for “Korean dramas” fell to between 21,000 to 23,000 points in the second quarter last year from 30,000 points in the preceding quarter, but picked up to between 28,000 and 29,000 points in the third quarter. It rose to 28,642 points in December.

The monthly average index for Korean dramas was 26,207 points, much higher than 14,653 points for American competitors and 4,909 points for dramas from Japan, according to the index.

Korean dramas “Legend of the Blue Sea” and “Guardian” were the only two foreign dramas that made it into the top 10 in the index.

The index last year for Korean movies reached a monthly average of 34,727 points, compared to 2,247 points for American films and 10,428 points for Japanese movies.

The index for Korean movies rose from 27,453 points in January to 37,190 points in March, surging to as high as 43,983 points in May before closing the year at 41,973 points in December.

“Train to Busan” topped the list for Korean movies with 672,533 points, which fell behind the No. 1 foreign film in China, “Captain America” (732,459 points), but outdid the second-placed “Zootopia” (503,674 points).

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