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Why Chinese Fans May Face A Longer Wait For K-Dramas

BY Julie Jones | Jan 27, 2015 11:10 AM EST

Tags k-drama

A new regulation in China could make it harder for k-drama fans to see their favorite shows there. As of March video-streaming sites will need to get licenses from China's broadcast regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, if they want to show imported films and TV series. According to Arirang News, the regulations may require that foreign programs, including k-dramas, make up no more than a third of the titles that are shown on streaming sites such as Youku Tudou and Foreign titles currently make up more than 50 percent of the content shown.

Acquiring a license to show a k-dramas could take up to six months to process and the drama may have to be altered to comply with regulation standards. It's a disappointing development for fans that were used to watching currently running k-dramas as soon as they could be translated.

Several American TV programs have already been removed from streaming sites.

The regulations supposedly aim to filter out programs with violent, sexual and satirical elements. But the regulations may also be an attempt to counter the popularity and influence of Korean dramas. Programs such as "You Who Came From The Stars," starring Kim Soo Hyun and Jun Ji Hyun, were very popular in China. The drama was reportedly watched 14.5 billion times on one broadcasting site alone and prompted trends that included eating Jun Ji Hyun's character's favorite meal, chicken and beer.

The popularity of k-dramas even prompted Chinese government officials to meet in 2014 and discuss why the nation could not produce dramas that were as successful. The Chinese television industry is facing tough competition from k-dramas that feature innovative storylines and high production values.

China has long carefully monitored broadcasts via cable or satellite but until recently placed fewer restrictions on content streaming to mobile phones, tablets, and computers. Experts have warned that Chinese fans will still want to watch their dramas and may do so using illegal distribution means. Illegal distribution poses a threat to copyright. And China's broadcast regulator warned that illegal downloads of foreign drama content would be penalized.

"As China is ruled by the Communist party, regulations on Korean dramas would be effective immediately," Jung Hae Ryong of KBS Drama told Business Korea.

One way that k-drama production companies get around the regulations is to produce dramas in China. The dramas use Korean writers, actors and staff. The contents are Hallyu but for regulation purposes they are considered Chinese.

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