With the import and distribution of My Little Pony: The Movie in South Korea still at an unconfirmed state, history is rumored to be brought back from last century.
The origins of such censorship date back to the very first Independence Day of South Korea on August 15, 1945, when Koreans were freed from the Japanese. On that same day, the Law For Punishing Anti-National Deeds was enacted. Its intent was mainly targeted at Japanese media, resulting in Koreans having no legal access to any manga, anime, video games, music and movies from that country. The ban took effect throughout most of the last two decades of the 20th century.
During those two decades, video game consoles grew popularity in Japan and the Americas. Many Korean companies found ways around the ban, such as licensing American versions of Japanese consoles. For example, the Nintendo Entertainment System (not the Japanese Family Computer) was released as the Hyundai Comboy (현대 컴보이) by Hyundai Electronics. As for anime, only a few to some were released in South Korea, with all Japanese cultural references removed, like Japanese words originally on screen left blank. Episodes completely with overt references to Japan and Japanese culture were banned as well.
Revisions to the laws (1998-2003)
In October 1998, President Kim Dae-jung gradually lifted the ban on Japanese cultual products, claiming that "it will be a stimulus to society and will help to further develop South Korean culture". The revisions of the laws allowed manga and other Japanese publications, including the Pocket Monsters (Pokemon) anime, which premiered in July 1999. Only live action films classified as "All Ages" were allowed for screening at that time. The ban on animated films remained in effect until June 2000, when by then, films classified as "12+" and "15+" were also allowed.
Korean culture today (2004-Present)
As of January 1, 2004, all censorship has been lifted on Japanese media in South Korea. This included movies of any rating, music (except on terrestrial television), video games, and television programming. The laws also allowed the establishment of Nintendo of Korea in 2006.
However, there are at least three things that appear to be banned today:
- Wii U (released on November 18, 2012)
- Nintendo Switch (released on March 3, 2017)
- My Little Pony: The Movie (to be released on October 6, 2017)
List of (once) banned media
According to the Internet Movie Database, 36 titles are currently listed as once or still banned in South Korea. However, none of these titles are Japanese media whatsoever, and 34 of these 36 titles are explicitly adult-oriented. They are:
- 25 motion pictures officially rated R or NC-17 by the MPAA, including an old animated film
- 2 unrated foreign films respectively from France and Hong Kong
- 2 animated cartoons
- 3 South Korean films (all eventually lifted for an 18+ rating)
- 2 video games, both rated M by the ESRB
The last two titles are both T-rated video games depicting war in North Korea.
All Japanese media was actually banned at once under one law, which is a possible reason why none of it is listed as banned in South Korea on IMDb. However, if the company credits and list of release dates for MLP: The Movie remain out of date for a long time, IMDb may face a 37th title in the "banned in South Korea" category! <:O