'Joseon Exorcist' in controversy after premiere as viewers claim Chinese props on show distort Korean history

'Joseon Exorcist', one of the much-anticipated shows of the season, was caught up in a controversy because of the props that were used on the show

                            'Joseon Exorcist' in controversy after premiere as viewers claim Chinese props on show distort Korean history
Jang Dong-yoon as Prince Chungnyeong in 'Joseon Exorcist' (SBS)

'Joseon Exorcist' as the name suggests is a drama set in the Joseon era. In the show, fantasy meets period drama and it also includes a fair amount of court drama and a lot of the production value depends on the sets and the graphics of the show. 

Some of the props that were used on the show were accused of distorting Korean history. Chinese mooncakes, century eggs on a dining table, and a Chinese-style liquor bottle with the Chinese character for liquor on it are the things that angered viewers. The reason why the controversy grabbed headlines is because of the ongoing debate between Chinese users and Korean users on the internet over the legacy of hanbok, the traditional Korean outfit, and kimchi which is a pickle that became famous after the Hallyu wave. 


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However, speaking about the scandal, the SBS production representative explained how the props were not used without thought. Turns out the production had intentionally placed these props to show how far Prince Chungnyeong, played by actor Jung Dong-yoon, had to go instead of the Crown Prince. The production also released a statement about the same.

A screenshot of the scene in 'Joseon Exorcist' that sparked the controversy. (SBS)

According to the translation by Allkpop, they said, "We set up the location as the vicinity of Uiju County, which is Ming Dynasty's border, in order to emphasize the situation where the third prince, Prince Chungnyeong, had to travel a long distance to the Chinese borders in place of the Crowned Prince Yangnyeong in order to bring back the western exorcist, and we added the subtitles for this."

They further added, "It was a location in which the western exorcist's party could rest after traveling through the Ming Dynasty and just entering Joseon, and since it's a region that's close to the border with the Ming Dynasty, we prepared the props while using our imagination that there would be frequent traffic of Chinese people. This was just a setup to explain the location of these characters who were in a remote area far from Hanyang (Seoul) in the story, and there were no special intentions at all."

A still of Ga-jin and On Dal in 'River Where the Moon Rises' episode 10. (KBS)

However, they also apologized for causing discomfort. They said they were sorry about, "causing discomfort during viewing through a scene that could be misunderstood during this sensitive time." 

In the meantime, the first episode of the show has managed to gain great ratings for its two-part premiere episode. A nationwide average viewership rating of 5.7 percent in the first part and 8.9 percent in the second part of its premiere episode was recorded. The show also competed with another period drama, KBS' 'River Where the Moon Rises'. The show starring Kim So-hyun has enjoyed adulation from viewers so far, but with the 'Joseon Exorcist' introduction, things can change. 

'Joseon Exorcist' will air every Monday and Tuesday at 10 pm KST and will be available to stream on Viki. 

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