PRESS RELEASE: Threatened by Chinese Embassy, South Korean Theater Cancels Shows
Seoul—Shen Yun Performing Arts learned today that a South Korean court has issued an order canceling four upcoming performances in Seoul this weekend. The court ruling cites intervention by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China and the theater’s fear of losing potential business with China. As a result, thousands of ticket holders will not be able to see Shen Yun’s performance, and South Korea’s democracy and freedom have been dealt a blow.
Will the world allow the Chinese Communist Party to dictate the arts?
Shen Yun is based in New York. We were established in 2006 with the mission of reviving traditional Chinese culture and sharing it with the world. This culture, which has a history of five thousand years, needed to be revived because the Chinese Communist Party spent decades trying to destroy it. Its political campaigns like the Cultural Revolution took this traditional culture—once so incredibly spiritual and rich—to the brink of extinction.
But over the last decade, Shen Yun has been celebrating this heritage on the world’s stage. Through classical Chinese dance, music, and authentic costumes, we present the legends and virtues of ancient China. Every year we tour over 100 cities around the world, performing in some of the most venerated theaters, and receiving praise from government officials, artists, and theater critics.
This year, we had been looking forward to performing at Seoul’s KBS Hall as part of our five-month world tour. In January, after having received a letter from the Chinese Embassy, KBS Hall decided to cancel the rental of the venue to Shen Yun even after the contract had been signed. The show’s hosting organization, New Cosmos Media, then took the case to court and, on April 19, Seoul Southern District Court issued an order ruling that Shen Yun must be allowed to perform at KBS and that the cancellation does not hold.
On May 4, however, the same District Court issued a new order, reversing the decision and upholding the cancellation. KBS had previously denied receiving any pressure from the Chinese Embassy, but the new court judgment, though unfavorable to Shen Yun, revealed that the Embassy had written at least two letters to KBS (Jan. 22 and April 29). These contained threats about endangering cooperation with China should Shen Yun be allowed to perform.
The court order also revealed the nature of the financial threat involved. It noted that KBS, or Korean Broadcasting System, the national public broadcaster that owns the hall, currently broadcasts content in China. If Shen Yun’s shows were canceled, the court order reasoned, the theater would only have to compensate the company’s loses. But if Shen Yun performed and, as a result, the Chinese Communist Party retaliated and revoked KBS’s content dissemination rights in China, then KBS stood to lose over eight million US dollars.
The new ruling was announced late in the day, shortly before all administrative offices, courts, embassies, and theaters went on a national holiday, which, when combined with the subsequent weekend, extends until after the scheduled performances are over. Meanwhile, thousands of tickets have already been sold.
The court order leaves no doubt that:
1) The People’s Republic of China is using political power and the lure of financial benefit to try to dictate to the citizens of other countries what they can and cannot watch. This we already know from similar incidents in South Korea and other countries, as well as a copy of a letter sent from the Chinese Embassy to KBS Hall.
2) South Korea’s theaters and legal system are sacrificing their moral integrity and the freedoms of the Korean people in order to comply with the Chinese embassy’s demands.