Chinese Boycott of Korea Continues

  • By Pak Soo-chan, Kim Jin-myung, Song Hye-jin

    November 01, 2019 12:48

    Leading Chinese travel agencies still do not sell any package tours to Korea since an unofficial Chinese boycott of Korean service and goods that started in late 2016. The boycott was triggered by Korea allowing the U.S. to station a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery here whose powerful radar Beijing fears.

    China International Travel Service, one of the country's largest tour agencies, offers no tours to Korea, and neither does Ctrip, China's biggest mobile travel app. One travel industry insider said, "Large Chinese travel agencies are being prevented from selling package tours to Korea. Individual travel is allowed, but group tours are prohibited by tourism authorities."

    To stop the boycott, the Korean government agreed on Oct. 31, 2017 not to join in the U.S.-led missile defense shield, prevent more THAAD batteries from being stationed here, and refrain from forging a closer trilateral defense alliance with the U.S. and Tokyo. China in turn signaled it would lift the boycott.

    At the time, the Korean government said the THAAD dispute had been resolved, but Chinese retaliation continues today.

    Korean entertainers are still unable to perform in China because they cannot get work permits. No Korean singer or band has been able to perform in China since 2016. Even super boy band Bangtan Boys, also known as BTS, skipped mainland China during their latest global tour. One entertainment industry source said, "We can’t get concert licenses, and authorities refuse to give us a reason."

    SM Entertainment recently opened a subsidiary in China but is manufacturing a band consisting entirely of Chinese members.

    Korean movies are not been shown in Chinese theaters since 2016 either. Director Bong Joon-ho's movie "Parasite" was about to be shown at a local film festival in China, but the screening was canceled at the last minute over mysterious "technical issues."

    A government official here said, "Although some limitations remain on group tours to Korea and Korean cultural products, bilateral relations have improved significantly in most areas."

    But the targeting of Korea looks fairly thorough. When the orchestra of the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music recently tried to put on a concert in China, Beijing refused visas only to the three Korean citizens among its 80 members.

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