According to the Korea Creative Content Agency, a total of 632 billion won is estimated to have been invested in the South Korean media content market from China between August 2014 and February this year. The Korea International Trade Association recently announced that Chinese enterprises took over 33 South Korean companies last year and 24 out of them were insurers and entertainment companies.
On March 15, Huayi Brothers acquired 26.5% of the shares of Sim Entertainment. Alibaba bought 4% of the shares of SM Entertainment last month and Suning Universal Media became the second-largest shareholder of FNC Entertainment last year. Likewise, the DMG Group is currently the largest shareholder of Chorokbaem Media and the Spearhead Group, a Chinese marketing firm, became the largest shareholder of Signal Entertainment in January this year by investing 21.4 billion own in it.
The domestic game market is showing a similar trend. For example, Tencent now represents 25% of Netmarble Games, 24% of 4:33, 14% of Party Games and 9% of Kakao. In addition, Longtu Games and Locojoy have acquired online education company Inet-School and wireless communications equipment manufacturer ENUStech, respectively. This year, Our Farm became the second-largest shareholder of Webzen Games and Sincetimes took over Cowon Systems, which was preparing to set foot in the mobile game market.
In the animation industry, Chinese toy manufacturer Alpha Group purchased intellectual property rights regarding the Bernard Bear animation from RG Animation Studios last year while Suning Universal Group acquired Redrover, the creator of The Nut Job animation. A large number of Chinese investors are interested in TUBAn and its animation series Lava, too.
A noteworthy point is that these Chinese investors are sharpening their own competitive edge by absorbing manpower and the like as well as finished content and copyrights. For instance, star PD Kim Young-hee entered the Chinese market last year along with colleagues like Jang Hyuk-jae, Jo Hyo-jin and Jang Tae-yu. Some experts point out that the copyrights of content co-produced by South Korea and China, the number of which is rapidly increasing these days, have gone to China in most cases with South Korea acting as a production agency.
“South Korean PDs and scenarists can triple their incomes in China and China provides much better broadcasting and content production environments to boot,” said an industry insider, adding, “This manpower movement from South Korea to China is likely to continue for years in the various fields including broadcasting, game, animation and computer graphics.”