It has been almost four months since Descendants of the Sun has concluded, yet it is still considered extremely popular among the K-drama and Asian drama communities. The military romance series primarily filmed in the Mediterranean has been watched and admired by millions of viewers internationally. As for the South Korean home front, it too was extremely popular, garnering a viewership rating that almost reached the record set by The Moon Embracing the Sun. Summarized, Descendants of the Sun is so far the most popular K-drama or Asian drama of 2016.
Even though Descendants of the Sun is extremely, not everyone is accepting of it. In this case, China has shown concern towards the K-drama as it is affecting the everyday lives of people who are fans of it. Along with past K-dramas popular in China, there have been reports of K-drama fans skipping work and even dying from watching them. China recently enacted a ban on Korean entertainment which includes K-dramas, K-movies, and K-pop.
The ban caused concern to many Descendants of the Sun fans who thought the K-dramas stars, Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo, would suffer, especially with all the fan meet-and-greets and Chinese promotions they were doing. Joong Ki’s company, Blossom Entertainment, claimed he was not banned per se, but that seems to be no longer valid. Reports now show that Song Joong Ki has been removed from Chinese smartphone ads.
The news was first reported by Korean and Chinese news outlets like ETNews and KukiNews. According to K-pop Herald, the Chinese smartphone brand Vivo dropped Song Joong Ki, a contract that was initially signed due to the popularity of Descendants of the Sun. It was also smart of Vivo to sign on Joong Ki, because they recently released their newest smartphone, the X7. On Joong Ki’s end, the contracts was quite lucrative as he would be making 22.8 million yuan, which is about $3.4 million USD, per year.
Vivo recently announced dropping Song Joong Ki due to “unavoidable circumstances.” They will still pay Joong Ki all ad fees owed to him, as the breach of contract is not his fault. According to Soompi, the “unavoidable circumstances” was attributed to China’s retaliation for the United States and South Korea deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, better known as THAAD. From what is known about THAAD, it is a plan to up South Korea’s defense against North Korea after the latter demonstrated their military power through the reported testing of nuclear weaponry. Nevertheless, China opposed the decision and it seems they are punishing South Korea for going through with it.
Song Joong Ki being removed from Vivo shows the extent of how serious China is taking their ban of Korean entertainment. Due to Joong Ki’s popularity, Vivo was making a killing in sales of their X7 smartphone, yet they still removed him. If someone as extremely popular as Joong Ki is not safe from losing Chinese contracts, what about other Hallyu stars, especially those who are considered CF contract queens? Both Bae Suzy and Seolhyun are CF contract queens, either making a lot of money with specific contracts or having a lot of contracts in general. Suzy losing Chinese contracts might not exactly hurt her, but Seolhyun needs all she can get after revealing that she really doesn’t make much from all of them.
The situation with China banning Korean entertainment is on-going. As mentioned, Song Joong Ki was just the first casualty of said situation. Who will be next?
[Image via Vivo]