Netflix Japan Calls Gwangju Democratization Movement a ‘Riot’ | Be Korea-savvy

Netflix Japan Calls Gwangju Democratization Movement a ‘Riot’

This photo released by Showbox is a scene from “A Taxi Driver.”

This photo released by Showbox is a scene from “A Taxi Driver.”

SEOUL, July 21 (Korea Bizwire)The Japanese unit of the U.S. streaming giant Netflix is at the center of criticism after calling South Korea’s Gwangju Democratization Movement a ‘riot’ during its introduction of South Korean film “A Taxi Driver.”

The 2017 box-office hit tells the story of a Seoul taxi driver who happens to take German reporter to Gwangju, some 330 kilometers south of Seoul, for a large offer of money and witnesses the horrors of the bloody military crackdown on the uprising on May 18, 1980.

Netflix Japan currently introduces the movie as the journey of a taxi driver who heads to Gwangju with a German reporter tasked with covering the ‘riot’.

“They do not know yet, if this is a life-changing moment. A touching film based on a true story,” the introduction continues.

“A riot has turned the street into hell. Even he sometimes thought of making a U-turn. But then again, he is reminded of the people who are risking their lives to fight,” another introduction says.

The word ‘riot’ is used In both introductions.

The Gwangju pro-democracy uprising was recognized by the South Korean government as a democratization movement in 1996. The spirit of the movement has since had a significant impact on countries worldwide.

“A Taxi Driver” was screened in the streets of Hong Kong during the pro-democracy movement last year, showing how it works as a symbol of democracy overseas.

Calling the movement a ‘riot’ on Netflix Japan continues to enrage many Japanese netizens.

“You call the Gwangju Democratization Movement a ‘riot’. What are you guys thinking? You’re literally spitting on history. Apologize,” a Japanese netizen said online.

“A ‘riot’ is how the military government saw the movement, and the movie tries to go against that. What you’re doing is an insult to the film,” another Japanese netizen added.

Netflix in anglophone countries describes the movement as ‘civil unrest’. Some experts argue that the problem might have stemmed while translating the original English introduction into Japanese.

H. M. Kang (

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