The reason I’m covering the Chinese beef with South Korea over THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system) is twofold – the escalation is making immediate impact on Hallyu and if it keeps going will likely have long term ramifications on the industry that could change how and what Hallyu products are produced. China’s fury over South Korea installing THAAD isn’st just limited to government to government, the Chinese netizens by and large support the ban on Hallyu and the government’s position, while conversely the South Korean netizens feel the same with their right to install THAAD and look down on C-netizens.
THAAD installation is starting this week and with it the Chinese ban has increased from closing down Lotte Duty Free stores last week to cancelling over half the flights between Mainland and Jeu, and now this weekend a cruise ship with over 3400 Chinese passengers docked on Jeju and every single passenger refused to disembark and left over hundreds of buses and tourist catering Jeju businesses empty handed. This weekend also saw all the top Chinese weibo sites with over millions of subscribers covering K-ent stop updating with an open announcement that they support China’s rights and will halt covering Hallyu news.
THAAD is a tricky balance between national sovereignty, South Korea’s right to install their own defense system to shoot down missiles, to the tipping of power in East Asia as the sophisticated system is equipped with radar that will allow the tracking of all missiles in the region including Chinese missiles in China. There is no right or wrong but I don’t see South Korea caving to Chinese economic pressure because if they do it basically means China can now dictate SK policy by using its economic might. This boycott is actually making SK citizens support THAAD even more because they don’t want to be bullied by China, and in the process they are being even more nationalistic and insulting the Chinese, and on and on this situation escalates. Sigh.