Korean drama series King The Land starring Lee Junho and Im Yoona has found itself embroiled in controversy due to its portrayal of an Arab character. The production team, JTBC, issued a second apology after the first one was deemed insincere by netizens.
The controversy centers around the character of Samir, an Arab prince who is played by Squid Game actor Anupam Tripathi. In one scene, Samir is shown drinking alcohol and flirting with women in a nightclub. This depiction was seen by many as perpetuating negative stereotypes about Arab men as being womanizers and alcoholics. Not to mention, the character itself wasn’t played by an Arab actor but an Indian actor.
The show’s second apology was written in Arabic, where the team was more detailed and acknowledged the netizens’ concerns. They reiterated that they had no intention to ridicule nor degrade any country or distort a particular culture at all. And, they acknowledge that they failed to consider the cultural implications of the content. They also pledged to take concrete steps to address the issue.
In addition to issuing an apology, the production team has also announced that they will be editing out the problematic scenes from the drama. They also promised to be more mindful of cultural sensitivities in future productions.
Their statement gained mixed reactions from netizens, with some accepting it and hoping that the team will be more careful in the future. However, some are adamant and expressed their wishes for the show to be canceled. Prior to this, King the Land has been gaining a lot of recognition and good ratings. It remains to be seen how the controversy will affect the popularity of the series.
JTBC’s first apology on July 12 in English and Korean:
Second apology on July 13: