Why ‘Frozen 2’ Is Allegedly Breaking the Law in South Korea

Upon its release, Frozen 2 garnered a mixed reaction. Some enjoy the way the film expanded upon the original Frozen. Others feel Frozen 2 doesn’t live up to its predecessor. Few, however, expected the film would be accused of violating the law. Here’s why the film is causing controversy in South Korea.

Kristoff, Anna, Elsa, and Olaf appearing at the Frozen 2 premiere| Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Is ‘Frozen 2’ too popular in South Korea?

The Hollywood Reporter said Frozen 2 has earned $62.1 million at the South Korean box office. This is an amazing accomplishment given since South Korea has a population of 51 million. Disney has every reason to be pleased with this box office take. However, some South Koreans believe Frozen 2 may have violated their nation’s laws.

A South Korean group called the Public Welfare Committee complained the film is so ubiquitous it violates anti-monopoly laws. South Korean law defines a commercial enterprise with over half a market share as a “market-dominant enterprise.” The Public Welfare Committee has calculated 88% of the country’s screens are showing Frozen 2. The group said Disney is “[attempting] to monopolize the screens and seek great profit in the short term, restricting the consumer’s right to choose.”

Does this complaint matter?

Anna, Olaf, and Elsa in California | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

There are two issues with this complaint. According to the New York Post, the Korean Film Council has calculated only 46.3% of the countries screens are showing Frozen 2. This means the film is just short of being a market-dominant enterprise.

Furthermore, the Public Welfare Committee and the Korean Film Council use different metrics to determine whether a film has a monopoly. The Korean Film Council takes into account how many times a film is screened compared to other films. The Public Welfare Committee does not. This is why the two organizations disagree on whether Frozen 2 is breaking the law.

Although a more limited release in South Korea would harm Frozen 2′s box office, it probably wouldn’t harm it to a major extent. Box Office Mojo reported the film has grossed $288,845,131 in the United States and $453,215,336 internationally. This means the film has grossed $742,060,467. IndieWire says the film cost around $150 million to make, meaning it has turned a massive profit during its first few days of release, despite the controversy it sparked in South Korea.

Disney has been there before

Winnie-the-Pooh and friends | Alexandra Wyman / Staff

This is not the first time an innocuous Disney film has caused controversy in an East Asian country. In 2018, the People’s Republic of China denied the film Christopher Robin a release in the country. Some speculated the nation’s government was worried their market was being flooded with foreign films.

Others claim the ban was the result of an ongoing crusade against all things related to Winnie-the-Pooh. Social media users started comparing the country’s president, Xi Jinping, to Winnie-the-Pooh. Afterwards, material featuring the character was censored from the internet.

Depending on how you look at it, Frozen 2’s ubiquity could be violating South Korean law. It remains to be seen how this controversy will affect public perception of Disney in South Korea. However, Frozen 2 wouldn’t be in this situation if it weren’t enormously popular. Its popularity is a triumph for Disney, regardless of what the Public Welfare Committee thinks.