Will Korean Soap Prompt China to Ease Censorship?

The Chinese government will allow provincial governments to make their own decision in censoring movies that are shown in their theaters, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The move is the first step in relaxing China's notoriously stringent censorship of movies and TV shows.

Under the strict regulations, China only allows 34 foreign films to be shown in Chinese theaters each year.

At a recent meeting of the National People's Congress, key government officials criticized the strict regulations which make it hard for foreign movies to be shown in Chinese theaters, and the latest decision constitutes a concession.

At the event, Chinese officials bemoaned that China seems incapable of making a wholesome hit like the Korean soap "My Love from the Star," which has taken China by storm and sparked fads for anything from food to books.

Chinese media too have recently tried to figure out the success formula for Korean TV shows and other pop-culture exports. One daily reported that male stars come and go quickly in Korea, ensuring a wide range of stars that fit changing tastes to capture the public's interest.

In contrast, the daily said, most male stars in China are familiar faces in their 30s who debuted more than a decade ago, so it is no wonder that Korean heartthrobs, such as Lee Min-ho ("The Heirs") and Kim Soo-hyun ("My Love from the Star") have replaced them in the affections of female fans.

Despite the phenomenal success of "My Love from the Star" in China, the censorship policies mean the program has never officially aired on Chinese TV and has to be accessed online because regulations prohibit broadcasts depicting "superstition." The soap portrays a woman's relationship with a 400-year-old alien.

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 18, 2014 13:18 KST