It’s not only China that’s working on a musical blacklist. Over 2,600 songs have been banned in the past two years in South Korea after being flagged for “hazardous media content” by the South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.
But it’s not 1990s boy bands whose declarations of love are being censored. Lyrics deemed “problematic” by the ministry have included references to the effects of alcohol made by contemporary Korean groups.
The ministry’s aim is to protect young people from “negative cultural influences”, but both musicians and fans have criticised the ban as an infringement on freedom of expression. One netizen wrote,
This is pitiful. We are living in the internet era and they forbid songs due to their references to liquor? One can easily access to more hard-core stuff online… Why dont you just block the internet, deeming it inappropriate for kids below age 19. […] They spent about 21 billion 940 million Korean Won (approximately 200 million USD) of government money this year in censoring these songs! [This refers to the Ministry’s yearly budget, not the total amount of money spent on the censorship alone] Will songs about liquor (exclusively) prompt kids to drink alcohol? The kids are not that simple. Why don’t you, the Ministry, focus on taking care of runaway kids rather than doing this?
Lee Yoo Eun at Global Voices Online has a great wrap-up of the story.