K-Drama “Sh**ting Stars” Just Premiered But Is Already Facing Criticism For Two Major Reasons

There were multiple problematic elements in the first two episodes.

Content Warning

This article includes descriptions of sexual assault that may disturb some readers.

Spoiler Alert

This article reveals plot details of a current movie or series.

TvN’s new K-Drama, titled Sh**ting Stars, just premiered over the weekend. Yet, it is already facing major criticism from viewers.

Lee Sung Kyung (left) and Kim Young Dae (right) in Sh**ting Stars poster.

Sh**ting Stars (also known as Shooting Stars) has been one of the most anticipated K-Dramas for April. Everyone was excited to see the all-star cast, including model, actress, and singer Lee Sung Kyung and actor Kim Young Dae as PR team leader Oh Han Byeol and A-list actor Gong Tae Sung, respectively.

As one of the nation’s most beloved stars, Gong Tae Sung (Kim Young Dae) is used to living his life in the spotlight. With the eyes of the world constantly on him, Tae Sung does his best to keep a smile on his face and his temper in check. Seen by the people as a kind and polite young man, the only people who don’t buy into his whole good guy personna are those working for his management company.

As the head of that company’s PR team, Oh Han Byeol (Lee Sung Kyung) knows exactly what Tae Sung is really like. Well aware of his strong desire to win and his hot temper, Han Byeol has had to employ her excellent speech and crisis management skills on a number of occasions, in order to keep Tae Sung’s reputation as spotless as it seems. Constantly bickering, there isn’t anyone in the world better suited to the role of natural enemies than Han Byeol and Tae Sung.

Forever at odds with each other, Tae Sung and Han Byeol seem destined to hate each other forever. But could the time they’re forced to spend together change those feelings or will their mutual loathing last for all eternity?

A hilarious story of the ultimate love/hate relationship, ‘Sh**ting Stars’ is a 2022 Korean romantic comedy drama directed by Lee Soo Hyun.

— Rakuten Viki

The combination of star power and the intriguing plotline captured K-Drama fans’ attention long before its release, and the hilarious promos certainly added to the anticipation.

Finally, it premiered its first episode on Friday, April 22, and the second on Saturday, April 23. Yet, it disappointed many in just the first few minutes…

The K-Drama begins with introductions of its two main characters. Oh Han Byeol (Lee Sung Kyung) introduced herself as the “Public Relations Team Leader at Starforce Entertainment.” She describes her role and responsibilities, such as press releases, communication between management and artists, and defending represented artists.

Episode 1 of “Sh**ting Stars.” | tvN via Rakuten Viki

During an interview, Oh Han Byeol is interrupted by her phone ringing. So, she answers it to be asked about one of her company’s actors, Gong Tae Sung. She explains that he is currently abroad, doing volunteer work in Africa.

I’m not sure what he’s up to. He’s volunteering in Africa so he’s probably working hard digging a well.

— Oh Han Byeol

Episode 1 of “Sh**ting Stars.” | tvN via Rakuten Viki 

While it may have been meant to portray the character in a positive light, viewers found the following scene offensive. Many took offense to how the drama portrayed Africa as a typical stereotype.

It cuts from South Korea to Africa with stereotypical imagery and “traditional” music that some say is to imitate Disney‘s The Lion King.

Episode 1 of “Sh**ting Stars.” | tvN via Rakuten Viki 

If that was not bad enough, the entire scene continued to perpetuate stereotypes. Gong Tae Sung is in Africa (it’s never specified, generically dismissing the continent as a monolith) to drill for water.

Episode 1 of “Sh**ting Stars.” | tvN via Rakuten Viki 

Netizens called out the K-Drama for depicting Africa as a country rather than a whole continent and portraying its male lead with a “white savior” complex coming to help bring water as if Africa doesn’t have water access already.

Viewers also noted that the editors included a “yellow filter.” This technique is often used in Hollywood films when portraying foreign places, including Mexico, India, and Africa, as “less fortunate,” “dangerous,” and “underdeveloped.”

Additionally, another viewer noted that while it was portrayed that Africa was “underdeveloped” and in need of assistance for water access, Tae Sung was able to video chat free of issues. So, it contradicted itself too.

Consequently, while K-Drama fans were initially excited and found it to have many potentials, this scene left a bad taste. And many are finding it difficult to move past and enjoy the rest of the drama.

African K-Drama fans are especially disappointed. They are calling out the K-Drama for its hurtful stereotypical portrayal of Africa.

K-Drama fans feel that tvN took a step in the wrong direction, and it’s especially backward to portray Africa in such a way in 2022. Still, it is not only Sh**ting Stars that has this issue. Many dramas portray any foreign country stereotypically.

Unfortunately, the depiction of Africa is not the only thing Sh**ting Stars is under fire for. A few viewers are also pointing out a disregarded but disturbing scene.

In Episode 2, the female lead is nearly a victim of sexual assault as the male lead attempts to remove his pants to prove he is “sterile,” following false reports that he is a eunuch due to an unfortunate typo. Her co-workers come to her rescue just in time, though.

Episode 2 of “Sh**ting Stars.” | tvN 

Still, the moment is upsetting and triggering. The worst part is that it appeared to be played for laughs.

While there are far fewer criticisms online regarding this scene than the Africa-based scenes, it does not make it any less alarming.

At this time, tvN has done little to none to make things right following two very problematic elements. Viewers are saying that so far, the background music used in the Africa scene has been changed, though.

Nevertheless, it already has so many unsettling story elements that it has left a lot to be desired for viewers.

It certainly didn’t leave a good first impression. Sh**ting Stars airs every Friday and Saturday (KST) on tvN.