TV Drama Is Driving A South Korean-Chinese Trade Boom

South Korean TV series "My Love from the Star" is a huge hit in China
South Korean TV series "My Love from the Star" is a huge hit in China
Sun Qizi

SEOUL — Thanks to the popularity of South Korean television series in China, a wave of Chinese capital is flowing to South Korea.

For the first half of this year Chinese investment to South Korea reached $70.8 million, an increase of more than 600% compared with the same period last year. Investment in real estate and leasing came out top with the catering and cultural industries following — with a six-fold and a twenty-fold annual growth respectively.

And indeed, cultural exports is exactly what South Korean has been promoting to China most.

Just last month Sohu, a fast-growing Chinese Internet company, invested 90 million RMB ($14.6 million) in KeyEast, a South Korean entertainment agency, to take a 6% stake. While KeyEast’s goal is to use Sohu to enhance its influence in the Chinese market, Sohu is hoping to acquire KeyEast’s content and strengthen its edge in licensing distribution.

More drama

From now on Sohu will enjoy the exclusive right of broadcasting KeyEast’s production in China as well as promoting the Korean actors managed by the South Korean firm who have massive numbers of Chinese fans.

Among Korean cultural production, its television drama series are undoubtedly the most attractive for the Chinese. According to the data of a South Korean trade association, South Korean drama series make up 73.4% of the country's cultural products most favored by the Chinese — far higher than its music (8%), and films (4.9%).

It’s estimated that by 2015 more than 370 million China’s households will be watching web television. “South Korean television dramas have over 1.5 billion fans worldwide, a third of which comes from China,” says Han Jiyuan, director of South Korea’s Investment Promotion Bureau.

Market share means investment opportunities. In the view of Rui Tingmin, South Korea’s Investment Promotion Bureau’s project manager, there are multiple ways for the two Asian neighbors to partner in order to increase the entertainment exchange, including adding a Chinese touch to the South Korean dramas.

“The best would be to have cooperation right from the planning stage. While the Koreans work on the content addressed to China, the Chinese could take charge of the funding and market development," said Rui Tingmin. "Not only will this add value to the drama, but the joint promotion of the two cultures will also boost growth for both of them.”

Chinese capital is already being invested in a number of South Korean cultural industries in the forms of indirect advertisement, co-production and direct funding. Chinese product placement in South Korean television dramas is a favored approach.

That look

The garment industry is another flagship industry of South Korea in the Chinese market. In 2013, Seoul's garment industry employed more than 100,000 people, far more than Milan and Paris. The density of shops and shopping centers in the South Korean capital is also more than three times that of Milan, New York and Paris.

South Korean apparel sells particularly well in China. According to the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency, 80% of Chinese tourists go to the country just for shopping. And on their shopping list, the priority is 55% for clothes and 21% for shoes.

Again, much of the explanation for the Chinese success of South Korean fashion goes to the popularity of the television dramas, such as My Love from the Star, a very successful series that piled up 3.7 billion clicks of Internet traffic alone.

Another factor behind the garment trade boom is that Chinese and Korean women are similar in height and build, and South Korea is seen as China as having more sophisticated design. It is worth noting that some 60% of Chinese apparel companies have hired South Korean designers.

“However, the cooperation approach that the Chinese are most interested in is to buy shares directly rather than setting up factories in South Korea”, said Li Weicun, Secretary-General of China Private Equity Association.

In order to promote trade in the two countries’ apparel industry, South Korean and Chinese governments are planning to contribute jointly to a $600 million “South Korean-Chinese garment fund.” The plan calls for Chinese to be responsible for the logistics and production while the Koreans take on planning and design.

“Exporting from South Korea to countries with which it has free trade agreements is a great advantage," says Han Jiyuan of South Korea’s Investment Promotion Bureau. "South Korea has already signed this kind of agreement with 46 countries and is hoping to sign one with China at the end of this year. Then our cooperation with China will be even more diverse and thorough in the future.”

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Running of the Bulls in Tafalla, northern Spain

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Здравейте!*

Welcome to Monday, where an apparent coup is underway in Sudan, Colombia's most-wanted drug lord gets caught, and Michael Jordan's rookie sneakers score an auction record. We also focus on a report that the Thai government is abusing the country's centuries-old law to protect the monarchy from criticism (lèse-majesté) to target pro-democracy activists and protesters.

[*Zdraveite - Bulgarian]


• Developing: Sudan leaders arrested amid military coup reports: Soldiers have arrested several members of Sudan's transitional government as well as civilian leaders, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has reportedly been put under house arrest, in what the information ministry called a military coup. Pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets of the capital city Khartoum where there are reports of gunfire and clashes.

• Colombia's most wanted drug lord to be sent to U.S.: Colombia's most dangerous drug trafficker, known as Otoniel, was caught after a joint army, air force and police operation and faces extradition to the U.S. He led the country's largest criminal gang, and was on the U.S. most wanted list for years.

• Xi speech marks China's UN anniversary: China's President Xi Jinping marked the 50th anniversary of Beijing's entry into the United Nations with a speech calling for greater global cooperation, adding that issues like climate change, terrorism and cyber security needed multilateral solutions. Taiwan was not mentioned.

• German ISIS bride jailed for crimes against humanity: A German court has sentenced a German woman and former member of the Islamic State to 10 years in prison for letting a 5-year-old Yazidi enslaved girl die of thirst in Iraq. The case is one of the world's first trials to prosecute a war crime against the Yazidis.

• COVID update: The Beijing marathon scheduled next weekend has been postponed until further notice as China seeks to stamp out Delta variant outbreak and return to zero cases ahead of the Winter Olympics next February. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in Eastern Europe have surpassed the 20 million mark as the region fights against its worst outbreak since the pandemic started and vaccination efforts lag.

Goodbye, Gunther: U.S. actor James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as the barista Gunther on the TV show Friends, has died at 59 of prostate cancer.

• Sneakers record: A pair of Michael Jordan's white-and-red Nike shoes, which he wore during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls in 1984, sold for $1.47 million — a new record price for sneakers at auction.


"The end of a boss," titles Colombian daily El Espectador, reporting on the arrest of drug lord Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel, who had led Colombia's largest criminal gang and had been on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's most wanted list for years. He was captured in a raid and will be extradited to the U.S.



A Georgia man is being prosecuted for wire fraud after spending most of his business's COVID relief loan to buy one Pokémon trading card for $57,789.


How Thailand's "Lèse-Majesté" law is used to stifle all protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

👑 Thailand's Criminal Code "Lèse-Majesté" Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family. But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

🚨 The recent report "Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand," documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations." The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

💻 The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them. Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind.

➡️


"Children are going to die. People are going to starve."

— The United Nations warns that Afghanistan verges on a "total breakdown" as millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken by the international community. The agency calls for the release of frozen assets to avoid economic and social collapse, despite concerns over the Taliban government. A recent report said that about 97% of Afghanistan's population may sink below the poverty line, and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley warned that more than half of Afghanistan's population of 39 million were facing acute food insecurity and "marching to starvation" in comparison to 14 million two months ago.


Dutch cities have been secretly probing mosques since 2013

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talked to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Are you more Chicago Bulls or running of the bulls? Let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world!!

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