Censorship of Japanese media in South Korea

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Censorship of Japanese media in South Korea refers to laws created by the government of South Korea to prevent the import and distribution of media from Japan. These laws were a reaction to the decades-long Japanese occupation of Korea. As a result, South Koreans had no legal access to Japanese media at all until the 1990s. As of 2018, there are still several laws restricting broadcasting of Japanese media in South Korea.


Immediately following the end of the Japanese rule of Korea, on August 15, 1945, South Korea enacted the Law For Punishing Anti-National Deeds (반민족행위처벌법), which was followed with many other laws over the decades restricting the broadcast and distribution of records, videos, CDs, and games from outside the country. While the laws did not specify any specific country, the intent of the laws was primarily aimed at Japanese media.[1]

Revisions to the laws[edit]

On 20 October 1998, manga and other publications were allowed to be imported for the first time.[2][3] Films that were joint Japan–Korea productions, or had won an Academy Award or an award at a major international film festival (Cannes, Berlin or Venice), were also allowed to be screened in theatres.[4][5] Animated films continued to be banned.[6]

In September 1999, Japanese music was allowed to be performed in venues not exceeding 2000 seats, and non-animated films that had won an award at any international film festival were allowed to be shown.[7][6][5]

In June 2000, the limit on seats in live performances was lifted, and animated feature-length theatrical films that had won one or more major international film awards were allowed to be shown, as were all films with a 12+ or 15+ rating. These films could also now be screened on cable and satellite television. Computer, online and arcade-style video games were allowed to be sold, and sporting events, news programs and documentaries were allowed to be broadcast on television. Music recordings and CDs with no Japanese lyrics, such as instrumental music or songs sung in other languages, was allowed to sold.[6][7]

On 1 January 2004, all Japanese films were allowed to be shown in theaters, and all Japanese music and video games could be sold by retailers.[4] For satellite and cable television, programming now allowed was lifestyle information programs, educational programs, Japanese music, Japanese films (those screening in theatres), and television dramas that were Japan–Korea productions or had a 7+, 12+ or general rating. For terrestrial television, allowed programming was lifestyle information programs, educational programs, non-animated Japanese films (those screening in theatres), television dramas that were Japan–Korea productions, live broadcasts of Japanese singers' concerts in South Korea, and Japanese singers appearing on Korean programs.[6]

Laws remaining in place[edit]

It is still illegal to broadcast Japanese music and television dramas over terrestrial signals in South Korea.[8]

In February 2011, the Korean censor indicated that they might consider lifting the ban in the future.[9] In August 2011, a single Japanese song was broadcast in South Korea as part of a trial program.[10][11]

In 2014, the Korean-language song "Uh-ee" by Korean band Crayon Pop was banned from broadcast by KBS because it contained the Japanese word pikapika in its lyrics.[12][13] However, SBS MTV and SBS funE allowed it.[14]


  1. ^ 中村知子 (Tomoko Nakamura) "韓国における日本大衆文化統制" (Control of Japanese popular culture in Korea) Archived 2011-12-23 at the Wayback Machine (in Japanese). Ritsumeikan University. March 2004. (English translation)
  2. ^ "[어제의 오늘]1998년 일본 대중문화 1차 개방 발표" (in Korean). The Kyunghyang shinmun. 19 October 1998.
  3. ^ <연말특집:聯合通信선정 '98 국내 및 해외 10대뉴스>-① (in Korean). yonhapnews. 10 December 1998.
  4. ^ a b Demick, Barbara (28 December 2003). "South Korea Makes Way for Anime". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-07-05. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b "Minister proposes allowing Japanese dramas into Korea". The Dong-a Ilbo. February 25, 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b c d Suzuki, Hitoshi (2004-03-15). "Ban Lifted on Japanese Popular Culture in South Korea". IIST World Forum. Institute for International Studies and Training. Retrieved 2016-07-05. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ a b Kim, Elisa (July 22, 2000). "Korea loosens ban on Japanese pop culture". Billboard. Vol. 112 no. 30. p. 68. Retrieved July 7, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "韓国政府による日本文化開放政策(概要)" (Open-door policy of Japanese culture by the Korean government – Overview) (in Japanese), Embassy of Japan in South Korea, 30 December 2003. (English translation)
  9. ^ 韓国、日本ドラマ解禁に積極姿勢 (Positive attitude Korea, Japan to ban drama) (in Japanese), 西日本新聞 (West Newspapers), 24 February 2011. (English translation)
  10. ^ 日, 정치인까지 反한류 감정에 편승 (Politicians capitalize on the emotions of the Korean Wave) (in Korean), chosun.com, 1 September 2011. (English translation)
  11. ^ 「韓流偏重批判に考慮を 自民・片山さつき議員が民放連に要請 ("Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Satsuki Katayama NAB requested to "take into account the criticism obsessed Hallyu") (in Japanese), J-Cast News, 31 August 2011. (English translation)
  12. ^ Yonhap News. <芸能>韓国アイドルの新曲 日本語使用で「放送不適合」 2014/04/03
  13. ^ Ashcraft, Brian. "Korean TV Network Bans Pop Song for Using Japanese". Kotaku. Retrieved 2019-02-06.
  14. ^ "[HD] 140408 Crayon Pop - Uh ee @ SBS MTV The Show". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-04-08.