Dec 20 2023

South Korea Update

Despite the CCP’s interference last year, Shen Yun was able to perform in South Korea, including sold-out shows at the National Theater of Korea. But when local presenters began approaching theaters this year for the 2024 season, they again ran into serious difficulties, receiving rejections in 13 cities, including theaters that had happily hosted Shen Yun in the past.

Local news outlet Chosun Monthly published a long article in August, interviewing local officials and theater managers who relayed the pressure they had received from Chinese diplomats.

Multiple US lawmakers have raised concerns about the CCP’s pressures and the prospects of Shen Yun being effectively barred from performing in South Korea, with some writing letters to the country’s ambassador and president. California Rep. Michelle Steel, a Korean American, wrote to South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol:

“I am alarmed to hear that there are attempts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to exert influence to prevent the performances [of Shen Yun] in the Republic of Korea. This saddens me and I hope we can work on a solution to showcase classical Chinese culture… I have also had the pleasure of attending one of their performances in California and found the virtues represented throughout the show about the universal values that connect us all inspiring. The Republic of Korea, as a free and democratic nation, has been one of the United States’ most important allies in promoting mankind’s shared values. I sincerely request your help to prevent the CCP from suppressing Shen Yun.”


Vision Times: US Lawmakers Voice Concerns Over the CCP’s Censorship of Shen Yun in South Korea

The Epoch Times: Lawmaker Urges South Korean President to Stand Against CCP, Allow Shen Yun to Perform

House Foreign Affairs Lawmakers Express Concern Over CCP Blocking Shen Yun in South Korea

Op-ed by Congresswoman Steel.

Jun 12 2023

Lots of Difficulties in South Korea

Ever since our first year performing in Seoul in 2007, it’s been very difficult to book theaters in South Korea. Although democratic and supposedly free, the country seems rather susceptible to CCP interference, at least when it comes to Shen Yun. The best and most prestigious theaters in the country are controlled by various levels of government, and year after year they prove difficult if not impossible to rent.

You might recall how, in 2011, the theater in Busan canceled the performances due to CCP pressure and then on the day of the first show, the local court ruled that Shen Yun be allowed to perform. The setup for the first show started at lunch, was completed in half the time, and the company performed in front of a sold-out house.

In 2016, in Seoul, we weren’t as lucky. We were scheduled to perform at KBS Hall and, in a back-and-forth affair, were eventually locked out. Here’s a video we made at the time about it:

So what happened in 2023?

  • This year, in order to book shows in South Korea, the local presenters contacted independently owned and operated theaters, and were given positive responses about the possibility of renting their theaters for Shen Yun performances. But when it came to the final step of securing the venues, the local presenters were repeatedly informed that “due to political and religious elements in the performance” the venues could not be rented. This included theaters that were able to be rented in previous years. The suspicion is that the theaters were influenced by the CCP or PRC embassy.
  • In Gumi, where two performances were held at the Gumi Arts Center Grand Hall, the Chinese Consulate in Busan directly called the Gumi city government warning the city not to allow the venue to be rented to Shen Yun, and also sent a letter.
  • In Busan, presenters signed a contract to perform at Sohyang Theater, which belongs to Dongseo University. Dongseo University has close cooperation with Chinese universities and has a Confucius Institute. About two months after signing the contract, the PRC side “expressed regret” to the university that the performances were scheduled and asked that they be canceled. At the time, Dongseo University then canceled the contract. The local presenters took the case to court to block the cancelation. The presenters won the case, and only then learned that Dongseo University had been consulting the Chinese Embassy about whether or not to allow Shen Yun to perform.
  • As far as renting the Seoul National Theater, the Chinese Embassy used the form of a civil lawsuit (filed under the name of individual Wu Mingyu) to claim that Shen Yun is a performance propagating Falun Gong and should therefore be canceled. Presenters have not been able to rent this theater as a result.
  • Every year, in every theater where Shen Yun performs, there is a protest outside led by a woman named Wu Mingyu, who is the one who instigated the civil lawsuit. The protests are professionally organized and set up, with a consistent number of individuals, commercially produced displays and signs. This year, they applied for permits and carried out protests in front of every theater’s entrance. They also printed a full-page ad attacking Shen Yun and Falun Gong in The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s biggest and oldest daily paper (rough estimated cost is $9,850 USD). Three of the individuals involved in this group had previously attempted a protest on the balcony of the Seoul National Theater of Korea – they had snuck in during intermission and set up their protest with banners before being removed by theater personnel.

Mar 20 2023

Dominican: Chasing the President to the Airport?

We just had our first-ever performances in the Dominican Republic in a couple of gorgeous theaters. Our performers certainly enjoyed both the time at the beach and on stage. I got to watch all the shows in the audience and can attest the houses were completely packed with people who were impeccably dressed and left much impressed.

But, of course, the Chinese Embassy tried hard to make none of this happen in one of the craziest stories of their behavior that I’ve heard so far.

On November 9, 2022, Shen Yun’s performances in the Dominican Republic’s Santo Domingo and Santiago were publicly posted online on the company’s website, with seven shows in five days. Once the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Santo Domingo got the news, it immediately began trying to block the performances.

As both theaters (Eduardo Brito National Theater in Santo Domingo, and Grand Theater of Cibao in Santiago) are subordinate to the Ministry of Culture, the Chinese Embassy’s first move was to contact the theater managers and the Ministry of Culture and ask them to cancel the shows. When that proved unsuccessful, it then immediately scheduled an appointment with the office of the president of the Dominican Republic and strongly demand the shows be canceled. The president’s reply was that the contracts were already signed and there was no way to nullify them now.

According to an advisor to the president who relayed to us this information, the Embassy then contacted the Santiago theater manager, offering him a monetary bribe and promises of future investments. The Embassy also slandered Shen Yun and Falun Dafa. The manager then wrote a letter to the presenter, Asociación Falun Dafa de la República Dominicana, saying that due to theater renovations, Shen Yun’s two performances in Santiago will need to be canceled (looking at cases in other countries, this is a common explanation used by theaters, perhaps at the embassy’s suggestion, to cancel performances). The presenter then reported this to the Ministry of Culture, and the Minister directly stated that the shows will not be canceled.

The Embassy then began contacting a range of influential individuals – legislators, ministers, media. The Embassy wrote them letters seeking their help to cancel the performances. These efforts did not lead to any results.

Finally, in January, one week before Shen Yun was set to arrive, the Embassy learned that Dominican President Luis Abinader was set to depart from Santo Dominigo’s Las Americas International Airport. According to information from someone who was present at the scene, the PRC Ambassador and Consular General rushed to the airport, found the President and again strongly insisted that the President must cancel the shows. The President replied: The situation is not reversible. Later that day, due to a mechanical problem, the President’s plane had to return to the airport. When the Ambassador and Consul General learned of this, they again rushed back to the airport. They told the President that if he insists on not canceling the shows, this will negatively impact the countries’ bilateral relations, and the PRC will discontinue its investment of over 100 million dollars. Their tone was directly threatening the President and he became very unhappy. Putting his hands up he said: “Whatever.”

With all this having failed, unknown individuals tore down Shen Yun’s advertisements in front of both theaters.

In the end, all these efforts were for not. The seven Shen Yun performances took place as scheduled and were sold out. Many VIPS attended and issued public statements of support, such as former Minister of Culture Carmen Heredia and Rosa Santos, Governor of the Province of Santiago de los Caballeros.

May 15 2022

Chinese Embassy in Mexico Gone Loco, But Theaters Not Pollo

With Shen Yun getting ready to perform in five cities in Mexico, the Chinese Embassy in Mexico made a last-ditch effort to cancel the shows or at least limit attendance from VIPs.

The Embassy contacted via Instagram the office of the Mayor of Queretaro, following up with email as well. On May 5, a letter was stamped and sent to the municipality of Queretaro, signed by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China (a copy of the letter is on file and available upon request). It is believed to have been sent to other cities in Mexico as well.

The letters’ contents were very similar to previous PRC letters around the world, calling upon the mayor’s office to use measures to block Shen Yun from performing in the city, so as to not “undermine China-Mexico friendly relations.”

Meanwhile, in Mexico City, the next stop on Shen Yun’s Mexico tour, the Auditorio Nacional, received a phone call from the Chinese Embassy asking them to cancel the show. The theater refused.

And then the mayor of San Luis Potosi, where Shen Yun was headed next, received an email from the Chinese Embassy asking the city not to promote the Shen Yun performances. All performances took place as scheduled.

Dec 4 2019

Is Beijing Messing With Your Google Search Results?

Mar 10 2019

Did Someone Hack US Immigration?

While traveling with the company from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia, Shen Yun dancer (name available upon request) who is a PRC citizen with a U.S. green card and U.S.-issued travel document, was denied a boarding pass at the airport. The airline (Qantas) then checked with an immigration officer in Canberra, Australia, and the explanation given was that her travel document appeared in the system as “reported lost or stolen.” This in spite of the fact that she had been able to enter New Zealand three days prior on the same travel document.

Neither the dancer nor anyone in the company had reported her document as stolen or lost—it was with her the entire trip. After multiple conversations and inquiries by US consulates and immigration authorities in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and Thailand, no plausible explanation could be given other than someone had entered the system and changed her travel document’s status over the previous several days.

Why was she, specifically, targeted?

One explanation is that her father had just come out of China five weeks prior after spending 12 years jailed as a prisoner of conscience. The incident of her travel document denial took place days after her father visited Washington, DC to tell people about his story, and the very next day after his story was published on a Chinese dissident blog.

Could someone on the inside have done this as an agent of the PRC?

Jan 30 2019

PRC Ambassador Admits Intervention in Audio Recording

According to an investigation, the Chinese Ambassador to Spain has admitted pressuring the Royal Theater in Madrid to cancel the show. In a recorded, investigative phone call, the Ambassador spoke of personally visiting Royal Theater to convey the message. The shows were subsequently canceled.

Just weeks before Shen Yun was set to perform for the first time in Madrid, the shows were suddenly canceled. The theater claimed the cancelation was due to “technical difficulties,” but organizers said that’s the excuse usually given whenever the Chinese embassy is the real reason.

With three performances scheduled Jan. 31Feb. 2, the Royal Theater director sent a letter on Jan. 7 canceling the shows. The explanation given was that there was an “unavoidable artistic needs of the stage space” for a production of Das Rheingold. However, that production was already scheduled when the contracts with Shen Yun were signed and it was not perceived to be a problem then.

In a press release, Shen Yun’s local presenter, Puro Arte Humano, said it was confident “the Chinese Embassy has pressured the Madrid Coliseum to achieve the cancellation of the show, something that they already tried in Barcelona without success in 2014.”

This turned out to be the case. On Jan. 22, the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) placed a call to the Chinese Embassy in Spain. The investigator used a tactic WOIPFG had successfully developed while investigating organ harvesting in China, and posed as a high-ranking CCP official calling for information. He got through to the Ambassador.

On the other end of the line, the person identified himself as PRC Ambassador Lü Fan, according to a press release issued by WOIPFG, which includes a recording of the call. The Ambassador then went on to describe how he had succeeded in talking the theater manager into canceling the Shen Yun shows.

The theater manager initially resisted but Ambassador Lü insisted, according to the recording.

“I told him not to think only about the economic income but also politics,” the Ambassador reportedly said. “When you work with China by signing the ‘International League of Theaters of the Silk Road,’ you have a great potential in the Chinese market.”

Some 900 tickets had already been sold at the time the shows were canceled.

Jan 23 2019

Overview: Why is the Communist Party Going After Shen Yun?

Shen Yun’s mission is to revive the essence of 5,000 years of divinely inspired traditional Chinese culture, arts, and values, which have been largely destroyed in China under communist rule.

In ancient times, China was known as the Land of the Divine. Everyone, from emperors to the common people, believed that their culture was a gift from heaven. They lived in harmony with the universe, believed in the oneness of heaven, earth, and humankind, and saw a connection among all things. People believed that good would be rewarded and evil would be punished, valued virtue in everything they did. Traditional Chinese culture embraced these principles for thousands of years.

But the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) advocates struggle against nature and man. It sees this culture as a threat to its power, and for decades it has tried to destroy it, or sometimes co-opt it, and replace it with its own communist culture. It nearly succeeded.

Today, although one can still find traces of traditional Chinese culture in mainland China, it is no longer mainstream and the underlying spiritual essence is mostly lost. Many consider today’s China as a country without a soul, a society with degenerated moral standards. The persecution of Falun Gong, a Buddha school qigong practice deeply rooted in traditions of spiritual self-cultivation, is yet another episode in Beijing’s ongoing war against traditional Chinese culture.

Each Shen Yun show includes about 20 numbers, mostly depicting ancient legends and folk dances. In each performance, there are a couple of dance pieces that also depict the persecution of Falun Dafa in China. As Shen Yun revives traditional Chinese culture, Shen Yun artists also want to help audiences understand how traditional culture was destroyed, and to demonstrate the sacrifices of those who are reviving that lost culture today.

While the persecution serves as context, what is typically highlighted in those two dance pieces is the power of the human spirit, compassion, courage, and desire for freedom in the face of adversity. Many audience members report finding these pieces especially touching and inspiring. This may not be surprising, as tales of the human spirit overcoming adversity have long been a favorite topic in art, film, and drama in the West. In one prominent example, the musical The Sound of Music features the von Trapp family’s escape to freedom from Nazi persecution.

Dual Fears

Despite Shen Yun’s international acclaim, Beijing has felt threatened by it for two reasons.

1. The CCP fears its persecution against Falun Gong will become more widely known.

The regime has invested significant resources to prevent information about Falun Gong and the abuse suffered by practitioners, including deaths in custody, from reaching Chinese and international audiences. Academic and NGO studies consistently report Falun Gong being among the most censored topics in China and a common trigger for government reprisals against foreign media.

2. Shen Yun’s success undermines CCP efforts to legitimize its rule via a monopoly on Chinese culture.

The Communist regime has been telling the Chinese people for years that there is no China without the Communist Party. So much so that they associate the Chinese government with the concept of China.

Clearly this is false. China has thousands of years of history without communism. But the government has staked its legitimacy on Chinese people believing that it is the protector of Chinese culture. As part of that, China has been sending art troupes abroad to perform.

These programs have been greatly outshined by the success of Shen Yun. Why do some Chinese fly to the United States to see Shen Yun? Because they cannot see it, or anything like it, in China. Shen Yun’s success outside of China demonstrates to Chinese people that the true essence of Chinese culture is not something the Communist Party can give them.

One top art official in China even begrudgingly acknowledged the success and high caliber of Shen Yun’s performances, and accused the government of ruining Chinese culture. His comments were reported in a 2013 South China Morning Post article, titled, “State-funded arts troupes fail to shine against Falun Gong rivals abroad.[1] This makes it hard for the CCP to claim it is the guardian of Chinese civilization and the legitimate ruler of China.

CCP Tactics

The CCP has tried every possible means to sabotage Shen Yun shows. This website has documented at least 70 incidents in 25 countries.[2] The tactics used range from cyber-attacks against Shen Yun’s ticketing website, to hiring local thugs to slash Shen Yun’s bus tires, to mobilizing online commenters to post negative reviews about Shen Yun. They even organize people to pose as Falun Gong practitioners to send letters to theaters with delirious, nonsensical content in order to give the venues a negative impression of Shen Yun and Falun Gong.

In January 2017, China Daily paid inserts in several major newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal,[3] the Washington Post,[4] the Telegraph in U.K., and Fairfax Media in Australia, all carried an article attacking Shen Yun.

The CCP also uses economic interests to seduce or threaten foreign governments in an attempt to cancel Shen Yun’s performing contracts at state-owned or affiliated venues. This has occurred in Greece, South Korea,[5] Ecuador, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong,[6] Russia, and Ukraine,[7] causing significant financial losses to Shen Yun.

Chinese embassies and consulates are also known to have harassed Shen Yun and pressured theaters not to sign a contract with Shen Yun or to cancel existing ones in many other countries,[8] including Japan,[9] France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, England, Ireland, Scotland, Romania,[10] Moldova,[11] Czech, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Malaysia, as well as in cities throughout the United States.

In this context, Shen Yun has recently encountered difficulties securing the opportunity to perform at opera houses in some European countries. These opera houses, which are most suitable for the Shen Yun performances both in terms of their reputation and stage requirements, are all state-owned or affiliated.

[1] South China Morning Post: State-funded arts troupes fail to shine against Falun Gong rivals abroad

[2] See Incidents and Evidence

[3] The Epoch Times: Paid Insert in Wall Street Journal Carries Chinese Propaganda

[4] The Epoch Times: Washington Post: Arm of Beijing’s Grand Propaganda Strategy?

[5] The Diplomat: The Long Arm of Chinese Censorship Reaches South Korea

[6] U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012: China

[7] U.S. State Department 2010 International Religious Freedom Report: Ukraine

[8] U.S. State Department 2015 Report on International Religious Freedom: China

[9] U.S. State Department 2012 International Religious Freedom Report: Japan

[10] U.S. State Department 2010 International Religious Freedom Report: Romania

[11] U.S. State Department 2010 International Religious Freedom Report: Moldova

Jan 19 2019

PRC Behind Madrid Cancellation?

Just weeks before Shen Yun is set to perform for the first time in Madrid, the shows were suddenly canceled. The theater claims the cancellation is due to “technical difficulties,” but organizers say that’s the excuse usually given whenever the Chinese embassy is the real reason.

With three performances scheduled January 31 – February 2, the Royal Theater director sent a letter canceling the shows on January 7. The explanation given was that there was an “unavoidable artistic needs of the stage space” for a production of Das Rheingold. However, that production was already scheduled when the contracts with Shen Yun were signed and it was not perceived to be a problem then.

In a press release, Shen Yun’s local presenter, Puro Arte Humano, said it was confident “the Chinese Embassy has pressured the Madrid Coliseum to achieve the cancellation of the show, something that they already tried in Barcelona without success in 2014.”

Epoch Times: Chinese Regime Pressure Suspected Behind Shen Yun Show Cancellation in Spain

Jan 19 2019

Israel Shows Great Success In Spite of the Usual

In March 2018 Shen Yun performed in Israel for the first time. Leading up to the shows at the prestigious Tel Aviv Opera House, the Chinese embassy tried to cancel the performances and, when that failed, to limit Shen Yun’s advertising.

The Chinese embassy directly contacted the Opera House manager to request the show’s cancellation. The embassy also exerted force through the Tel Aviv municipality as well as the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Billboard companies that ran Shen Yun ads received letters from the Chinese embassy asking them to remove the ads.

In spite of these pressures, the performances took place and were extremely successful. All four shows and the 6,000 tickets were sold out as Israel’s cultural and artistic elite in attendance went on record speaking of how moved and inspired they were by Shen Yun.

Shen Yun Debut’s in Israel! (Shen Yun website)

Video: Sold-out Shows in Tel Aviv