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Why South Korean companies, entertainers are getting cold shoulder in China

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Ever since Seoul agreed last year to host a US missile defense system, South Korean pop stars, musicians and companies have felt a distinct chill in China.
This week, China took aim at Lotte, a South Korean conglomerate that owns the golf course on which the THAAD system will be located. China sees THAAD as a severe threat to its security interests, but South Korea and US see it a key to defending against potential threats from North Korea.
China’s official news agency, Xinhua, in a fiercely worded commentary Sunday, said the Lotte board would “hurt the Chinese people” and the “consequences could be severe” if it goes ahead and finalizes a land-swap deal.
“Lotte stands to lose Chinese customers and the Chinese market. That would be a very large slice out of their business pie,” said the commentary, which did not carry a byline.
Lotte, which has also faced a tax investigation in China, is not alone in facing Beijing’s wrath. South Korea analysts argue that Beijing is using economic retaliation against South Korea to send the country a political message.
“Trade is being used as a punishment to any country that has territorial and other issues with China,” Ingyu Oh, a professor of sociology at Korea University, told CNN.
“China’s message to South Korea is not to align with the US military to a degree that can threaten the security of China,” added Oh.
Performances canceled
In January, two South Korean classical artists, soprano Sumi Jo and pianist Kwun-woo Paik, were denied performance visas. No reason was given.
Sumi Jo said on her Twitter account that her China tour had suddenly been canceled after two years of preparations. It had been China that had initially invited her to perform.
“It’s such a shame that conflict between two countries interferes with the fields of pure art and culture,” said Jo in a veiled tweet.

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