China claims ban on K-pop fan accounts not targeted at Hallyu
The ban on dozens of K-pop fan accounts on social media platforms in China are not meant to target Korean artists or Hallyu, said the Chinese Embassy in Seoul.
“The problem with these 'fandoms' in China's internet space is getting bigger and bigger, and each fan club is using abusive language, slander and malicious marketing. There are cases in which fans, including minors, are encouraged to gather funds to support their stars, and some are forced to do so,” reads a statement by the embassy on Wednesday.
“In order to respond to the above situation, relevant ministries in China have urgently launched bans and disciplinary measures to crack down on celebrity data manipulation and unhealthy fandom consumption,” the embassy said. “It is in no way meant to influence China’s relations with other countries.”
Among the accounts shut down for 30 days were fan club accounts of individual NCT members, singer-songwriter IU, Seulgi of Red Velvet, Taeyeon of Girls’ Generation and Rosé and Lisa of Blackpink, according to several Chinese media reports.
A fan club account for BTS member Jimin received a longer 60-day suspension due to an incident in which fans raised money to fly an airplane covered with photos of the singer to celebrate his birthday.
Though the embassy denies that the Chinese government is trying to crack down on Hallyu with its recent internet regulation moves, it's not something Korean artists or K-pop groups would be surprised to see.
China had implemented unofficial bans on Hallyu, or the Korean wave of pop culture, following Seoul’s decision to install a U.S.-led antimissile system in Korea, or the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system, in 2016.
In addition to an unofficial order directed toward Chinese companies to stay away from Hallyu contents or working with artists from Korea, the Chinese government also delayed, for years, issuing licenses to Korean businesses including cosmetics and gaming companies to export their products to China.
The Korean Foreign Ministry on Thursday said the matter “must be looked into” but that it doesn’t think China is deliberately trying to crack down on Hallyu or Korean businesses.
“The Chinese ban on Hallyu has been something that Seoul and Beijing have repeatedly talked about, and the Korean government has repeatedly emphasized that the level of cultural exchanges between the two countries should be returned to normalcy,” the ministry’s spokesperson Choi Young-sam said in speaking with the press on Thursday. “The issue will likely be discussed at the Korea-China foreign ministers’ summit coming up. […] But the governments of Korea and China share a view that in no circumstance should the bilateral ties and exchanges be compromised.”
China and Korea are commemorating their 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties next year.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will be in Seoul next Tuesday and Wednesday to meet with Korea’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong to discuss North Korea, the 30-year anniversary and a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
BY ESTHER CHUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]