June 29, 2022

For the first time in about six years, a South Korean movie and a TV series have been officially released in Chinese theaters and via a local streaming platform. The move has raised cautious hopes that the yearlong cultural freeze between the neighboring countries is softening steadily.

In December, South Korean comedy film “Oh! My Gran” (2020), starring veteran actress Na Moon-hee, hit Chinese theaters, hence becoming the first Korean-made film released in China since the period action movie “Assassination” in 2015.

China’s state-owned Hunan Broadcasting System’s online video platform Mango TV last week streamed Korea’s 2017 fantasy romance series “Saimdang: Memoir of Colors.” Its local TV channel also aired a dubbed version of the TV series featuring “Dae Jang Geum” starring Lee Young-ae and Song Seung-heon.

The romance series “Saimdang” was completed in 2016 and aired in Korea in 2017. However, the Chinese release had been put on hold for years as Beijing imposed an unstated ban in 2016 on Korean content in protest of Seoul’s decision to deploy a U.S. missile defense system, known as THAAD.

Since that year, Korean TV series, shows and movies have been absent from China’s TV networks, formal video streaming platforms and cinemas. While Korean artists and entertainers were also barred from having concerts or shows in China.

The South Korean government welcomed the move by China and called it “positive progress.”

According to reports, Seoul is said to have been making constant efforts to promote exchanges in the cultural sector with Beijing to create a cordial environment for marking the 30th anniversary of establishing bilateral diplomatic relations in 2022.

Some have expected that the releases of the movie and the TV series could lead to China’s reopening to Korean culture ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.