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Taiwan, China United in Backlash Against Korean Wave

2006/01/11 Source

Taiwan and China are in rare agreement in a backlash against the Korean Wave that has seen their television channels swamped with Korean soap operas. Hong Kong's Wenweipo on Wednesday reported signs that Taiwan is following mainland China's lead in a drive to limit airtime for Korean drama.

The daily quoted Taipei's Government Information Office Chief Pasuya Yao as telling the island's parliament Tuesday that the GIO was assessing a proposal to ban or limit foreign TV drama in the prime time slot from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The move is being read as a reaction against the dominance of Korean soap operas in Taiwanese broadcasting. Shows such as "Dae Jang Geum (The Jewel in the Palace)" and "Full House" were a huge hits in Taiwan. But lawmakers' reactions were reportedly divided. Chinese Nationalist Party lawmaker Kuo Su-chun said Yao was "excessively strict in correcting errors," adding that could lead to other errors. He joked Yao might consider closing down CKS International Airport in Taipei to keep foreigners out altogether.

Zhao Yongqing of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) described himself as a fan of Korean soap operas, and insisted even if the government wants to put a limit on foreign dramas, a prime-time ban would be going too far. But fellow DPP legislator Lin Chung-mo said he fully supported the GIO's plan and would persuade his daughter, a fan of Korean soaps, to change her viewing habits.

Yao said one of the duties of the GIO was to promote Taiwan's own film and TV industry. He added the administration was merely assessing the proposal to protect Taiwan's industry but had made no final decision.

Meanwhile, the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) said Tuesday the nation needs to do more to counter a backlash in China. KITA's Beijing office said there are clear signs of a reaction against the popularity of Korean pop culture in the mainland Chinese media and officialdom. Since the frenzy reached its peak when "Dae Jang Geum" aired there in September and October last year, Chinese officials, celebrities and the media have been grumbling about an excessive influx of Korean culture.

Thus the actor Zhang Guolin has said China is becoming "a giant in importing foreign culture" and watching Korean TV dramas was tantamount to "selling out the nation". The film magazine Mingxing insisted in December that the Korean government tries to hinder not only agricultural and fishery imports from China but also cultural products, according to KITA's Beijing office. China's State Administration for Radio Film and Television (SARFT) also said last December that China had been too generous with the import of Korean TV dramas and called for a stricter screening process. It said China could limit airtime for Korean dramas to 50 percent

Soon after, China Central Television (CCTV) said it would gradually reduce the amount of time allotted to soap operas from Korea, and Beijing TV is pondering a similar move and says it will start showing more Hong Kong and Taiwan-made soap operas. Provincial stations are also paying keen attention to the decisions by nationwide networks and government and are considering changes to their Korean-soap-heavy schedules, KITA said.

A KITA official said Korea needs to come up with long-term strategies to establish a Korean Wave in a broader sense if it wants to counter the backlash. It should promote what is "truly Korean" and improve the image of Korea and its people, he said, and called for efforts to reach Chinese people and let them know more about Korea by way of books and other materials. There should also be more funding for Korean Studies departments in Chinese universities and for research on Korea, he said.

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