South Korea's No. 1 film in 2017 has been banned in theaters and online by China after it was allegedly deemed to rekindle thoughts about the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing in 1989.
"A Taxi Driver," starring Korean actor Song Kang Ho, tells the story of a taxi driver, played by him, who takes a German TV journalist from Seoul to cover the uprising in Gwangju, South Korea in 1980.
The movie has sold 12.18 million tickets and earned US$84.26 million at the Korean box office since it was released on August 2. To date, it is the only film which has reached 10 million in total admission this year.
Quoting the Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, the Korea JoongAng Daily reported that the Chinese government blocked the screening of the movie and deleted all information about the film from Chinese websites.
The report said that after "A Taxi Driver" was released in China in September, comments were posted on Chinese social networking site Douban including those that said that the movie was like the Tiananmen Square protests.
As a result, the Chinese government banned the film in the country. The movie's page on Douban and comments on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo were also deleted.
South Korea and China have been at odds since 2016 over the former's deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile defense system.
As retaliation, China has banned K-pop and other Hallyu events in the country and canceled group tours to South Korea. This has severely affected South Korea's tourism industry, which heavily relied on Chinese tourists for years. The number of Chinese tourists in South Korea has now dropped drastically.
Chungjeongno Theater in Seoul, a venue that showcases Nanta, a non-verbal performance that features drumming, will close in 2018 due to a decline in Chinese tourists.
According to PMC Productions, the theater has been hit by the drop in Chinese tourists coming to see the show.