The Korea Herald


SBS drama ‘Joseon Exorcist’ takes beating over historical inaccuracies

By Song Seung-hyun

Published : March 25, 2021 - 17:49

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Screenshot of a scene from TV series ”Joseon Exorcist” that featured Chinese food (SBS) Screenshot of a scene from TV series ”Joseon Exorcist” that featured Chinese food (SBS)

Despite apologies by broadcaster SBS and the production companies involved over what viewers criticize as historical inaccuracies and distortions in the TV series “Joseon Exorcist” on Wednesday, public anger continues unabated. As of Thursday, over 156,500 people had signed a petition on the Blue House website asking for the cancellation of all future ”‘Joseon Exorcist” episodes.

The period drama sparked controversy immediately after the first episode aired Monday.

Many viewers pointed out that the show disparages King Taejong (played by Kam Woo-sung), the third king of Joseon who ruled from 1400 to 1418, by showing him cruelly slaughtering innocent people because he was hallucinating, for which there is no historical basis.

Many Koreans also criticized the drama series’ use of Chinese-style costumes and props in the TV drama set in the Joseon era. At a time of intensifying controversy between Korea and China over spurious Chinese claims to kimchi and hanbok, the inappropriate use of Chinese-style costumes and props is a serious issue, they have claimed.

The production team -- Crave Works, YG Studioplex and Lotte Cultureworks -- initially issued a statement saying that the Chinese-style props were used because the scene was set near the border with Ming China. It said the team thought there could have been some cultural exchanges between Joseon and Ming China. The team then apologized briefly and said it would exercise more caution in dealing with history. The statement did not mention issues regarding the depiction of King Taejong.

The statement fueled further public anger, and Samsung Electronics, Cozyma, KT, LG Household & Health Care and ACE Bed pulled their ads from the drama.

“First of all, we apologize for causing misunderstandings and making audiences uncomfortable in the sensitive time by using Chinese-style artworks and props (such as mooncakes) in the drama,” the latest statement from the three production firms said. “We admit our mistake since we did not notice what was wrong in advance.”

This statement issued Wednesday added that the production teams were irresponsible in their depiction of real-life historical figures and was not careful in exercising creative imagination.

Airing of the show, scheduled for Mondays and Tuesdays, was postponed and the producers said all problematic scenes will be deleted in reruns and streaming.

The production firms also denied speculation that the distortion of history occurred due to Chinese funding.

“Our drama is produced purely with Korean capital,” the statement added.

SBS also released a statement saying that it should have checked the content more thoroughly.

By Song Seung-hyun (