China Blocks South Korean TV in Dispute Over Missile Defense

The move follows other measures taken to show Beijng's anger over a security move targeting North Korea's weapons program.

South Korean actress Choi Ji-woo (R) and actor Kwon Sang-woo (L) in the TV drama 'Stairway in Heaven.'

Chinese cable television companies have cut off access to South Korean programming in a move by Beijing to punish Seoul for installing a missile defense system aimed at North Korea, but which China says threatens its own security, sources say.

The blocking of South Korean drama and news shows follows earlier measures taken to show China’s displeasure over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system being deployed in South Korea in the wake of Pyongyang’s test launch of ballistic missiles.

Boycotts of South Korean goods and services have spread across China in recent weeks, with Chinese travel agents also halting group tours to South Korea and Chinese hotels turning away South Korean guests, sources say.

Now, Chinese authorities have blocked access in China to popular South Korean broadcasting, a source in Yanji city in China’s Jilin province told RFA’s Korean Service.

“They have blocked South Korean television channels because of the THAAD deployment dispute,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It has been almost a month now since the channels were blocked, and we see no sign of getting them back,” he said.

'Nothing being done'

Access to the popular and affordable programming was cut without notice, leading to widespread customer complaints, the source said, adding, “The company says only that we should wait, but nothing is being done.”

“In large cities like Yanji and Jilin, people are busy installing satellite antennas that can let them watch the broadcasts,” the source said. “They are lining up to do this even though the antennas cost 700 yuan [U.S. $102 approx.] to install and a complicated registration process is involved.”

South Korean drama and other entertainment shows are popular with Chinese viewers, “but viewer numbers are especially high because South Korean news programs show the international situation the way it really is,” a resident of Weihai city in China’s Shandong province told RFA.

“But all channels have been blocked since April 2, and I can’t watch South Korean television now.”

“The Chinese cable television companies never explained why they are blocking South Korean channels, but most people are convinced this is a result of Chinese authorities’ emotional response to South Korea’s deployment of THAAD,” he said.

Reported by Jieun Kim for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Soo Min Jo. Written in English by Richard Finney.