They came under fire for cultural appropriation, animal abuse, and more.
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When K-Dramas get it right, they really get it right. When they get it wrong, well…It’s not good. Here are 8 K-Dramas from 2021 and 2022 that faced major criticism from the public.
1. Squid Game
Last year Squid Game mania took over the globe, but not everyone was a fan of this bloodsport K-Drama. The Netflix series made headlines for using a real phone number. The owner of the phone received endless calls from fans dialing the digits from this invitation card.
Initially, the owner was told to change her number, and that Netflix could do nothing to prevent fans from calling it. The owner’s number, however, was tied to her business, not a personal number that could easily be switched. Eventually, Netflix was pressured into editing out scenes that displayed the phone number.
We can’t do anything since it [phone number] already went out and it’s not like we did it intentionally. Honestly, we think the only option is for you to change your number. — Netflix “Squid Game” production crew’s response
2. Joseon Exorcist
This historical-supernatural television series faced so much controversy that it was canceled after just two episodes. The show’s stars, including Jang Dong Yoon and Lee Yu Bi, and Production Director Shin Kyung Soo issued apologies.
Joseon Exorcist came under fire for distorting history, specifically historical events and records pertaining to Korea and China’s shared history.
BLINKs were thrilled to see BLACKPINK‘s Jisoo star in this historical K-Drama, but Snowdrop, unfortunately, faced unrelenting backlash even prior to its release. Snowdrop’s writer was accused of historical negationism in regards to the 1987 June Struggle protest movement that paved the way for democracy in South Korea.
4. Oh My Ladylord
Shortly after Episode 1 of the MBC K-Drama Oh My Ladylord aired, viewers were up in arms. The reason? A naked shower scene starring Lee Min Ki.
Viewers were not happy about the amount of nudity in this scene, which was only censored by a peach emoji. Some netizens expressed discomfort, while others went so far as to call it sexual harassment.
The show’s producers acknowledged viewers’ reactions with this statement:
We’ve acknowledged the issue. We plan to take appropriate measures to limit our viewers’ level of discomfort. — MBC
5. Penthouse 3
Is there such a thing as too much product placement in a K-Drama? Penthouse 3 viewers certainly thought so. The third season of this soap opera received criticism for going overboard, allegedly “ruining,” scenes and emotional moments with brands.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only controversy. Penthouse 3 also came under fire for introducing a new American character that was, according to viewers, the poster child for cultural appropriation. The character’s actor, Park Eun Seok, responded to this criticism with an apology
6. Dear. M
Dear. M has been indefinitely post-poned due to actress Park Hye Soo‘s alleged school violence, which her agency has denied. In light of these allegations, the public launched petitions for the show’s postponement.
Before the controversy, fans had been looking forward to watching the all-star cast, which includes NCT‘s Jaehyun…
…and UP10TION‘s Lee Jin Hyuk.
7. Twenty Five Twenty One
Twenty Five Twenty One was an incredibly popular 2022 K-Drama, but not everyone was on board with the leads’ on-screen romance. The show was accused of idealizing and justifying a romance between an adult and a minor, played by Nam Joo Hyuk and Kim Tae Ri.
The two characters had a four-year age gap, which wouldn’t have been much of an issue if the characters had met as adults. Kim Tae Ri’s character was still a minor when Nam Joo Hyuk’s character confessed his feelings for her.
8. The King of Tears, Lee Bang Won
The production team for KBS‘s The King Of Tears, Lee Bang Won was suspended for the abuse of animals on set. During filming, the staff tied wires to the horse’s legs and pulled on them to make the horse fall.
KAWA, an animal rights and protection activist group, condemned the production team’s actions which caused injuries to the actor, who was not given proper protective gear, and the horse. Sadly, the horse passed away a week after sustaining injuries on set.
We condemn the animal abuse that occurred at the set of the KBS drama The King Of Tears, Lee Bang Won.
Yesterday, the Animal Freedom Association suspected them of horse abuse when filming the falling scene of the drama. As such, we have secured a video from the drama’s filming set. Just as many people were claiming, we have confirmed that during the falling scene of the horse, a wire had been tied to the horse’s leg to purposefully knock it down. The horse fell badly in the process as in the video and its body was strained largely. The actor who also fell with the horse had been filming in a dangerous manner and is suspected to have been injured too.
However, while the staff rushed to check on the fallen actor immediately after the scene was filmed, no one checked on the horse. The horse had been turned upside down and unable to get up. It did not show movement despite having been on the ground for a long time. Since then, the status of the horse has not been confirmed. There is no way to know if the horse is alive or injured.