Korean Drama Stokes Controversy over Historical Distortions, Igniting Boycott Against Advertisers | Be Korea-savvy

Korean Drama Stokes Controversy over Historical Distortions, Igniting Boycott Against Advertisers


This image provided by SBS shows a poster of TV series "Joseon Exorcist."

This image provided by SBS shows a poster of TV series “Joseon Exorcist.”

SEOUL, March 25 (Korea Bizwire) Tension between South Korea and China is escalating as the latter presents groundless claims that elements of the former’s inherent culture such as hanbok, kimchi and pansori originated in China.

Against this backdrop, a new South Korean drama is under fire for featuring a string of scenes that have the potential to distort history as well as to give encouragement to China to pursue the controversial Northeast Project.

TV series “Joseon Exorcist,” which first aired on Monday on terrestrial TV network SBS, is now caught up in the history distortion controversy, igniting a move to boycott the drama’s advertising sponsors.

As the controversy grows, Samsung Electronics Co., one of the drama’s main advertisers, decided to pull its advertising from the show.

Samsung is not alone. Other major advertisers, including KT Corp., LG Household & Health Care Ltd. and Ace Bed also announced that they had decided to withdraw their advertisements from the drama.

“After becoming aware of the issues raised by the controversial drama, we instantly pulled our advertising. We apologize for failing to acknowledge the controversial content of the drama in advance,” KT said.

Massage chair maker Cozyma posted a notice on its website indicating that it had suspended all of its support and advertisement for the ‘Chosun Gumasa’ drama.

Cozyma said, “Instantly after acknowledging the controversial issue, we attempted to pull our advertisement from the drama, but inadvertently it was aired on Monday due to the circumstances of the broadcasting company,” adding, “We have nothing to do with the content of the drama and will take more prudent approach when supporting drama production.”

This combined image, captured from the broadcast of "Joseon Exorcist," shows scenes from the TV series on SBS.

This combined image, captured from the broadcast of “Joseon Exorcist,” shows scenes from the TV series on SBS.

Suh Kyung-duk, a professor at Sungshin Women’s University who is a PR expert in promoting Korean culture and a critic of historical distortions, posted a long comment on Facebook on Tuesday saying, “The historical distortion controversy raised by the drama ‘Chosun Gumisa’ has had a huge ripple effect.”

He insisted that Chinese netizens are advocating the scenes appearing in the drama, adding, “In a situation where China is engaged in the ‘New Northeast Project’ insisting that elements of Korean traditional culture such as hanbok, kimchi and pansori originated in China, the drama provided another excuse for China to make such groundless claims.”

“Joseon Exorcist” is a fusion history drama about King Taejong, the third ruler of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), and his third son Crown Prince Chungnyung fighting to save the people from evil spirits that came from the West.

In the first episode of the drama that aired on Monday, crown prince served Chinese moon cakes and dumplings to a foreign priest at a gisaeng house. This scene was criticized as having distorted history.

Some people posted petitions on the presidential office’s website, calling for the suspension of the drama saying that was no more than China’s ‘Northeast Project drama.’

Such criticism led to a plunge in the series’ viewing rate. According to Nielsen Korea, the drama’s Tuesday episode recorded viewership of 6.9 percent, down from the Monday episode’s 8.9 percent.

J. S. Shin (js_shin@koreabizwire.com)

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