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Conservatives Slam 'Biased' KBS History Drama

2006/06/09 Source

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Conservative groups accuse the state-run KBS network of distorting history and belittling the achievements of its first president Syngman Rhee. Some 254 right-wing groups including the Citizens Coalition to Stop the Nuclear Development of North Korea and the Free Citizens' Alliance of Korea held a press conference at the Korea Press Center Friday slamming the KBS historical drama "Seoul 1945".

They complain that the drama accuses Rhee and others of involvement in the assassination of the center-left leader Yeo Un-hyong and demand a halt to the broadcast. They are also demanding the resignation of KBS president Jung Yun-Joo and threatened a campaign asking people to boycott the television subscription fee.

"Seoul 1945" started airing in January. Some viewers complained from the start that the drama has a leftwing bias and does not do justice to rightwing figures whose historical evaluation, the argue, is not yet complete. Thus Syngman Rhee is portrayed as a collaborator with the Japanese whose lust for power leads him to abandon a unified Korea, while characters of the Left are usually portrayed as considerate and concerned for the future of the nation.

The soap opera posted stellar viewer ratings of 17-18 percent on June 4, when its competitors were replaced with a World Cup warm-up match. Some 9,500 viewers posted comments on the network's bulletin board, many demanding a fairer portrayal of the historical characters.

Shim Ji-yeon, a professor of politics at Kyungnam University, says since the truth about the assassination of Yeo Un-hyong is not known, it seems unreasonable for the drama to hint at who the assassin was. "It wouldn't matter if it was a movie or a novel, but a historical TV soap on a state-run network that targets the public as a whole has enormous influence", says Prof. Lee Min-ung of Hanyang University's mass communication department. "I don't think that the direction the drama is trying to lead to is consistent with what our society does".

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