In unusual backchat during normally serious National People’s Congress proceedings, one of China’s most powerful officials, anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan, admitted to watching South Korean soap operas.
During a panel discussion with NPC's Beijing delegates, in which a performing arts director talked about the challenges facing the Chinese arts, Wang piped in with a comment on a hugely successful Korean show whose popularity has transcended borders.
“Have you all seen that trendy online drama called … something stars?” he said, referring to My Love from the Star.
Met with silence, the 65-year-old Wang said, “You see? None of you officials know”, prompting a burst of laughter from the room, according to a report by The Beijing News newspaper on Wednesday.
Wang then attributed Korean telenovelas’ success to their “Chinese spirit”.
“Sometimes I watch Korean dramas on and off. After watching for a long time, I realised I understood why Korean dramas are ahead of ours,” said Wang, who is known for a keen interest in popular culture.
“I’ve been wondering why Korean dramas have [invaded] China. How can they cross the ocean and influence the US and even Europe? In the past few years, they have come out with a Gangnam Style.
“The core and spirit of Korean dramas is the exact sublimation of Chinese traditional culture,” Wang was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “They use TV dramas to disseminate Chinese traditional culture.”
Wang, ranked number 6 on the Politburo Standing Committee, is also a fan of American political drama House of Cards, about scheming politicians in the White House, according to Hong Kong-based magazine Phoenix Weekly.
My Love from the Star, a love story between a woman and an immortal alien who takes the shape of a man, has garnered plenty of fans on the mainland. It is watched on two video-streaming sites, with one site alone garnering 14.5 billion hits.