Censorship of non-Japanese media in South Korea refers to one of the laws from over the decades restricting the broadcast and distribution of records, videos, CDs, and games from outside South Korea, used in order to prevent the import and distribution of anything from countries outside of Japan and South Korea.
Ever since the My Little Pony franchise launched in 1982, nothing at all, including the toys, ever officially made its way to South Korea, much like any typical Japanese media, and anything related to this franchise appearing there within that time period were either bootlegs or rip-off versions. In addition, any films from Walt Disney Animation Studios before The Little Mermaid (1989) each had to wait more than 10 years before finally being granted legal access for South Koreans.
Revisions to the laws
It was not until 1990 when the wild success of Walt Disney's The Little Mermaid pressured the company to release its animated features for the first time in South Korea. Over there, the film came out on December 21, 1991, and about a year later, in 1992, Walt Disney Korea was established, allowing the company to distribute films independently. In 2011, the ban on most, if not all, My Little Pony products in South Korea was entirely lifted, following the success of the hit TV series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The franchise first reached South Korea in April 2014, with the first airing of the first episode of the show, Friendship is Magic, part 1. However, the show only aired on cable (not terrestrial) television, where even Japanese music and television dramas are exclusively allowed there nowadays as well.
The Movie was also never shown in theaters (especially in film festivals), nor given a Blu-ray or DVD release, despite being classified as "for general audiences". In fact, the only sole DVD available in Korea is a "20-piece set" of the complete first season from MNV, comprising of all 26 episodes with English dialogue and Korean and English subtitles. Even though its purpose is to educate kids with the English language, MNV is really a bootleg company because some of the shows they "released" on DVD were never even licensed to any distributor for broadcasting on South Korean television, such as Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs, Stella and Sam, and the English dub of Anne of Green Gables.
The way all of this happened, it turns out that many Walt Disney animated features and My Little Pony actually took longer than many Japanese media franchises to officially appear in South Korea. Here are some examples:
- Doraemon took an estimated 20-25 years to appear in South Korea, as so did virtually all other Japanese media originally released since the late 1970s, against My Little Pony's roughly 30 years.
- Pokémon was introduced in South Korea just 2 years after its initial broadcast on April 1, 1997, against My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic's 3 1/2 years.
- The first season of Pokémon took the longest to get a South Korean release, at 834 days, while the first five seasons of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic all took longer than Pokémon's first season to get South Korean releases, the fifth season the shortest of them at 903 days.
- The seventh season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic took the shortest to get a South Korean release, at 357 days; nevertheless, most seasons of Pokémon within all generations took less than 300 days to get a South Korean release, starting with Season 4 on March 8, 2001.
- Most Doraemon and Pokémon movies from 2009 to 2017 were released in South Korea within six months after their initial releases in Japan, against My Little Pony: The Movie's direct-to-VOD release's seven months. (By the way, VOD services were established after the ban on nearly all Japanese media was lifted in South Korea.)
South Korea's availability statistics
For My Little Pony merchandise:
|Japanese live-action films||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Japanese animated films||N||N||Y||Y|
|Japanese video games||N||N||Y||Y||Y|
|My Little Pony (all generations)||N||N||N||N|