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"Joseon Exorcist" Controversy Over Distortion of History

2021/03/24 Source

SBS' Monday-Tuesday drama "Joseon Exorcist" has been embroiled in controversy over its distortion of history. SBS decided to stop replaying reruns of the first and second episodes, which had already been aired, and fix the problem scene. In addition, the next episode will be pre-empted to fix the overall contents of the drama.


"Joseon Exorcist" is a drama set in the Joseon Dynasty, in which Taejong Yi Bang-won and the crown prince fight evil spirits. There are two main controversies. The scene shows King Sejong serving mooncakes, Chinese dumplings, and duck eggs to a Catholic exorcist from the Vatican. The background is Joseon but there's Chinese food, and there are concerns that it can be used in China's cultural process.

It was also pointed out that the setting such things as slaughtering the people after seeing his father Taejo's hallucination, or Royal Prince Chungnyeong being ignored by exorcist priests and military officials, was overboard. The Jeonju Lee clan will protest against SBS, taking issue with the matter.

On the bulletin board of the presidential office Blue House's national petition, a petition was posted to suspend the broadcasting of "Joseon Exorcist" and about 100,000 people agreed as of 8 PM on the 24th. The Korea Communications Standards Commission also received 3,900 complaints regarding "Joseon Exorcist". Compared to more than 1,500 complaints filed in the past two months, it is a record.

The production team of "Joseon Exorcist" said on the 23rd, "We are sorry for the inconvenience of viewership with scenes that can be misunderstood at a sensitive time. It was just a setup to explain the location of the characters away from Hanyang in the drama, and there was no special intention at all. It was a place for a group of Exorcist Priests in the West who had just come to Joseon through the Ming Dynasty to rest, and since it is an area close to the Ming border, we prepared props with the imagination that the Chinese would have frequented the area". However, some netizens criticized the drama to change its title to "Chinese Exorcist". The production apologized saying, "I apologize again for causing misunderstandings and inconvenience in Chinese art and props". SBS also issued an apology and said on the 24th, "As we deal with real people and history, we should have taken care of them in more detail and inspected them, but we deeply apologize to the viewers for not being able to do so".

Writer Park Kye-ok, who wrote the script for "Joseon Exorcist" also caused controversy over her distortion of history in his previous work, tvN's weekend drama "Mr. Queen". This is because 'The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty' was described as 'tabloid' and described Queen Shinjeong as a superstitious figure. When the Poongyang Jo Clan protested, the production team hurriedly began to modify the Andong Kim and Poongyang Jo Clans, who are important axis in the drama, as Ansong Kim and Poongan Jo.

As the "Joseon Exorcist" scandal grows, companies such as Samsung Electronics, Ssangbangwool and Ace Bed are also withdrawing their advertising or production support. "We immediately requested the withdrawal of the advertisement after recognizing the related issue, but the advertisement was sent out on the 22nd due to the broadcaster's situation", Kozima said in a website notification. "Kozima has nothing to do with the contents of the drama. We will support the production with a cautious attitude".

Broadcasters seem surprised at the expansion of such controversy. "We thought it would be over if the production team apologized for using Chinese-style props, but I was surprised that advertisers were withdrawing one after another", a ground-wave official said. "I didn't know that public anti-China sentiment was so great".

Jung Duk-hyun, a pop culture critic, said, ""Joseon Exorcist" seems to have judged too complacently at a time when public opinion is sensitive due to China's northeast process and cultural process, such as conflicts between Korean and Chinese netizens over Song Joong-ki's bibimbap in the drama "Vincenzo"".


"Joseon Exorcist" is directed by Nam Tae-jin, Sin Kyeong-soo, written by Park Kye-ok, and features Kam Woo-sung, Jang Dong-yoon, Park Sung-hoon, Seo Young-hee, Lee Yoo-bi, Kim Dong-jun. Broadcasting information in Korea: 2021/03/22~Now airing, Mon, Tue 22:00 on SBS.

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