“See You In My 19th Life” Gets Backlash For Alleged Historical Distortion

Netizens have spammed the Netflix Korea Instagram account asking for a statement.

tvN‘s new K-Drama See You In My 19th Life has gotten itself in hot waters with Iranian viewers over its inaccurate historical representation.

(From left to right) Ha Yoon Kyung, Ahn Bo Hyun, Lee Chaemin, and (below) Shin Hye Sun in the poster for “See You In My 19th Life” | tvN

The show tells the story of Ban Ji Eum (played by Shin Hye Sun), who has reincarnated 19 times with the memories of all her past lives intact. After her 18th life is cut short due to a road accident, she decides to reconnect with the boy she met during that time in her nineteenth life. The first episode shows a few glimpses of her past lives, like, the 17th life, where she was a male gymnast, and her fourth life, where she was an Arab man.

During an interview, when Ban Ji Eum is asked how she learned Arabic, the character is shown to have a flashback to the tenth century. The monologue claims that her fourth reincarnation had made an alcoholic drink called “Arak,” which probably became modern-day Soju after spreading through the Middle East, Mongolia, and Goryeo.

Iranian viewers found this scene culturally insensitive because, according to the history of Iran, the discovery of alcohol can be traced back to the great Iranian alchemist, Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī, or simply, Razi. In historical documents, Razi is credited for discovering sulfuric acid and ethanol. The latter is one of the main ingredients of distilled spirits, including vodka, tequila, and Soju.

Iranian netizens have flocked to Netflix Korea’s Instagram account, citing the information about Razi and asking for a statement of apology for misrepresenting the Iranian alchemist as an Arab man.

Netflix Korea is yet to respond to the Iranian viewers’ concerns.

Source: National Library of Medicine

See You In My 19th Life

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