[HanCinema's News] "Queen of Tears" Popular in China Despite Lack of Official Distribution

On the popular Chinese movie website Douban, the South Korean drama "Queen of Tears" has 47,640 ratings for an average score of 7.6 out of 10. This fact might not be especially notable, except that "Queen of Tears" has no official distribution in China. The worldwide distribution rights for "Queen of Tears" lie with Netflix, which does not operate in the Chinese market. Nevertheless, Chinese K-drama fans find a way, and so the television drama is enjoying some popularity there.


But not everyone in South Korea is happy with this fact. On April 23rd, professor Seo Kyeong-duk of Sungshin University took to social media to bitterly attack the evidence of Chinese perfidy in violating South Korean cultural copyright. He also went on to attack illegal file sharing of "Exhuma" in China for the same reason, though the professor made no mention of the the film's ongoing authorized screenings at the Beijing International Film Festival.

While this opinion may seem extreme, it's an unfortunately common one in South Korean today. Many people such as this professor look at Chinese interest in South Korean dramas and only see copyright theft and cultural manipulation, using this as a rationale for a larger hardline stance against Chinese political interests. Despite the obvious potential in the Chinese market, television dramas such as "Queen of Tears" have had to avoid officially distributing there due to this criticism.

In the Chinese sense, though, the professor may be winning this argument. He made a similar post last November about the popularity of "Reborn Rich" alongside other South Korean dramas- "Reborn Rich" currently has 126,692 ratings with an average score of 7.1 out of 10. Domestically, "Reborn Rich" and "Queen of Tears" have comparable popularity although "Queen of Tears" is not quite finished and may yet break into higher numbers.

Is Chinese interest in South Korean content bad because the rightsholders aren't being compensated, or for being Chinese? Piracy used to run rampant for worldwide K-drama fans not due to malice due to the lack of legal distribution options. Then there's the irony of cross-cultural interest being considered bad in any event, rather than encouraging in regard to bridging cultural differences. "Queen of Tears" had ratings of 21.625% in its most recent episode, the 14th, which aired on April 21st.

Written by William Schwartz