China’s culture industry is flourishing these days based on its huge domestic market and overseas expansion. Meanwhile, the Hallyu (Korean Wave) in China is subsiding.
Recent trends in China’s culture industry include virtual reality (VR), web broadcasting, web dramas and paid online services. Chinese companies in the industry are acquiring a number of their counterparts in the United States and so on, turning themselves into the linchpin of the global culture industry.
The Chinese government is focusing on the growth and protection of those companies in the same way as in the manufacturing sector. Chinese capital is likely to dominate the distribution of cultural content in global markets as a result of aggressive M&A. The people’s pride in their culture and the government’s efforts to protect it are affecting its cultural industrial policy. “China is becoming increasingly protective in its culture industry as well as manufacturing,” the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in China explained, adding, “TV programs covering Chinese arts and the like are aired in the prime time nowadays to take the place of the Hallyu.”
At the same time, more and more cultural content is flowing into China from the United States and Japan while the Korean Wave in the country is stagnant with regard to the ongoing THAAD deployment issue. Japanese cultural content is increasing its presence in the local 2D animation market in particular. In 2016 alone, China imported 11 films from Japan and nine of them were animations. During the same period, the value of the Chinese animation industry exceeded 130 billion yuan. It is estimated to go up to 149.6 billion yuan this year.
Under the circumstances, experts advise that South Korea should prepare for the future by taking this as an opportunity. “The Chinese government’s restrictions on cultural content from South Korea imposed in the wake of the determination in favor of THAAD deployment in South Korea are likely to be temporary in the end,” said Kim Ki-heon, head of the Beijing Office of the Korea Creative Content Agency, adding, “The number of Chinese tourists visiting South Korea, which amounted to eight million a year in recent years, used to be three million to four million a year three to four years ago.”
They also point out that South Korean companies need to pay attention to ongoing changes in China’s culture industry, which are being led by a rapid growth of new cultural content and an increase in the ratio of paid content and services.
Consumption of the new cultural content in China is expected to soar based on VR, web broadcasting and web dramas. The size of the Chinese VR market reached 2.08 billion yuan last year and is estimated to reach 5.5 billion yuan in 2020. At present, the growth of the Chinese VR market is being led by hardware and the development of content for hands-on VR experience is accelerating as well. The ratio of paid video content is on the rise, too. The number of Chinese using paid video platforms is likely to increase from 100 million to 250 million and the market is forecast to expand from 22 billion yuan to 60 billion yuan between this year and 2020.
This means that China’s culture industry is calling for more and more competitive content to be provided via Chinese companies’ distribution networks. According to experts in the industry, South Korean cultural content is highly creative and appealing and, as such, the Korean Wave in China can come back anytime. “Free webtoons and web novels turn into paid much faster in China than in South Korea,” Jeon Dae-jin, platform business designer at KT, remarked, continuing, “Chinese buyers are paying more and more attention to South Korean webtoons and web novels in that their stories and genres are unique and cater to young people and their lifestyle.”