Tensions between South Korea and China have been quite high ever since China suddenly began claiming that Korean things were actually Chinese. This includes the Korean flag, kimchi, decorative knots, hanbok, taekwondo, and more. With this conflict, Koreans have become more sensitive to seeing Chinese items in K-Dramas as they wish to promote only Korean items at this time.
In the March 22 premiere of Joseon Exorcist, after an attack from evil spirits, Prince Chungnyeong (Jang Dong Yoon) is ordered by the King to travel to Ming Dynasty’s borders to meet with a Western exorcist Yo Han (Darcy Paquet), and his interpreter Marco (Seo Dong Won).
It is important to know that during the Joseon Era, the Ming Dynasty was the ruling dynasty of China at the time. The dynasty was mostly where China currently is; however, it also ruled parts of modern Russia and Vietnam.
In the scene where Prince Chungnyeong met spoke with the exorcist, viewers noticed Chinese mooncakes, Chinese pídàn (century eggs), and Chinese dumplings on the table. Beside those items was what appeared to be a liquor bottle with the Chinese character for liquor (酒) written on it. This led to backlash from Korean viewers, who stated that the scene was a distortion of Korean history.
SBS responded to the criticism today:
We set the location as Uiju County (Ming Dynasty’s border) in order to emphasize that Prince Chungnyeong had to travel a long distance to the Chinese borders in place of the Crown Prince in order to bring back the western exorcist, and we added subtitles for this.
It was a location in which the Western exorcist’s party could rest after traveling through the Ming Dynasty and just about to enter Joseon. Since it is a region that is close to the border of the Ming Dynasty, we prepared the props while thinking that there would be frequent traffic of Chinese people.
This was 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 behind this at all.
We are sorry for causing discomfort during viewing through a scene that could be misunderstood during this sensitive time. We will pay close attention to the production in future broadcasts.
—The Production Team of Joseon Exorcist
Joseon Exorcist premiered yesterday and will be releasing episodes every Monday and Tuesday KST.