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China OKs S. Korean game for 1st time in nearly 4 years

11:21 December 03, 2020

SEOUL, Dec. 3 (Yonhap) -- China's media regulator has approved a South Korean video game for the first time in nearly four years in what could be a relaxation of economic retaliation.

China's National Press and Publication Administration issued a license for "Summoners War" on Wednesday, paving the way for Com2uS Corp. to officially sell the mobile game in the Chinese market, according to the South Korean video game developer.

The decision marks a shift from China's reluctance to approve South Korean video games in apparent economic retaliation against Seoul over the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.

In 2017, Seoul and Washington deployed the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea to counter North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats.

China, South Korea's largest trading partner, has repeatedly pressed Seoul to withdraw the missile defense system, claiming it could hurt its security interests.

Com2uS Corp.'s popular mobile game "Summoners War" is shown in this undated image provided by the company. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Prior to the Chinese regulator's latest decision, no South Korean game had received a license since March 2017.

A Com2uS official said the company had sought approval for its game from the Chinese regulator since late 2016. "Summoners War" is Com2uS' flagship game that was globally released in June 2014.

Besides video games, other South Korean industries, such as tourism, have been hit hard by China's retaliation.

The number of Chinese tourists to South Korea fell by more than 30 percent in the 2017-2020 period from three years earlier amid the diplomatic row, according to data by the Korea Tourism Organization.

The latest video game approval raised hopes that more South Korean games could enter the Chinese market.

"The license approval for 'Summoners War' will raise expectations for the South Korean game industry to expand into the Chinese market," DB Financial Investment analyst Hwang Hyun-joon said.

Still, other game experts called for more support from the South Korean government to local game companies targeting the Chinese market.

"China currently issues only one-tenth the video game licenses that it used to," Wi Jong-hyun, president of the Korea Game Society, said in a Facebook post. "It would be naive to think that a string of South Korean games will now receive licenses."

"South Korea needs to continue to pressure (China) for more licenses," he added.

yunhwanchae@yna.co.kr
(END)

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