Top 8 Racist Korean Dramas That Grossly Disturbed Fans

Vinod Pandey
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While Korean dramas are generally adored globally, there have been multiple instances that left fans absolutely raging due to their historical inaccuracies, cultural sensitivities, and sometimes even straight-up racism. 

In this article, we're going to explore eight such occasions that left both international and domestic K-drama fans in shock and even forced huge broadcasters to issue apologies or even cancel the dramas in question. 

Top 8 Racist Korean Dramas That Grossly Disturbed Fans

Top 8 Racist Korean Dramas That Grossly Disturbed Fans

Number 8. King The Land 

Introducing two powerhouse stars Girls Generation Yoona and 2PM's Junho. King The Land stormed to the top of the ratings from its very first episode. 

However, the drama hit a storm when it depicted an Arab prince as an alcoholic womanizer in episodes seven and eight, causing a significant backlash among Arab viewers. Even reaching Arab news stations. 

They found the portrayal of a Muslim Arab engaging in alcohol and mingling with women disrespectful and unacceptable. Social media overflowed with demands for an apology from both jTBC and the production team. 

Compounding the issue, the decision to cast non-Arab actor Anupam Tripathy, renowned for his role as Ali Abdul in Squid Game. This role stirred heated online debates and anger. In response, jTBC argued that the drama featured purely fictional characters, locations, and names with no intention to depict real individuals or nations. 

However, this statement fell short of satisfying netizens who regarded it as an insufficient apology. Ultimately jTBC acknowledged their lack of understanding and issued a sincere apology, pledging to reevaluate the contentious aspects of the series. 

This development followed a series of events that highlighted the delicate balance between artistic expression and cultural sensitivity in the realm of entertainment. 

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Number 7. Little Women

The mystery thriller gathered rave reviews worldwide at first and even ranked sixth on Netflix's global chart. However, when the Vietnam War was featured in episodes three and eight, it began facing intense criticism in the drama. 

Some characters took part in the war as part of the 320,000 Korean troops that supported the US. One of them boasts about the kill-to-death ratio of Korean troops during the war, saying that there were 20 Viet Cong killed for one Korean soldier dead. 

Also in another scene, a Korean military veteran was referred to as a hero for having performed distinguished military services during the Vietnam deployment. 

Regarding these, the Vietnamese government demanded the drama's removal from platforms for allegedly violating the country's media law by depicting distortions of the Vietnamese war, even though the production team issued a statement saying that they would exercise extra caution when it comes to matters of societal and cultural sensitivity. Little Women was eventually banned in Vietnam. 

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Number 6. Joseon Exorcist 

This drama could potentially go down in history as the unluckiest Korean drama to date since it couldn't survive after coming across heavy backlash amid the ongoing debate between China and South Korea over the origins of kimchi, hanbok, and pansori. 

Joseon Exorcist further ignited citizens' concerns by incorporating Chinese-style props and cuisine on set. The drama was also condemned for not accurately representing Korean history with its portrayal of real figures. 

Despite the apologies from SBS and the production company for causing confusion and discomfort to viewers during a sensitive time and taking out the controversial parts from the first two episodes, this still didn't satisfy everyone over 200,000 signatures had been collected to cancel the show, and eventually the drama lost all of its sponsors and was canceled after just two episodes. 

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Number 5. Twenty-Five-Twenty-One

Earning its spot among popular romcom K-dramas, Twenty-Five-Twenty-One faced scrutiny for mishandling a sensitive topic during its run in episode 15. 

As Baek Yejin and Na Hee Do budding relationship takes center stage, YiJin is portrayed as a news correspondent covering the 9/11 attack in New York. 

The scene captures Hito's inappropriate laughter upon seeing Yi Jin report on the attack, followed by a call where he dresses up for her while intending to depict the challenges of a long-distance relationship. 

The drama came under fire for using the world-altering tragedy as a backdrop for romance. In another scene, Yi Jin reports from a different war zone absent from the screen, and only his voice is heard. 

When Hito expresses disappointment, Yi Jin explains his assumption that she'd be disappointed due to his absence. Hito questions how he knew her feelings. Despite potentially aiming to illustrate the couple's passionate connection. 

Viewers criticized the show for Insensitively intertwining the 9/11 attack into a romantic storyline. The portrayal was deemed disrespectful to the victims and their families, highlighting the importance of responsible storytelling around significant real-world events. 

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Number 4. Snowdrop 

The drama was one of the most anticipated dramas for 2021, but even before airing, Snowdrop gathered massive backlash because portions of the plot summary and character backgrounds were suddenly released online. 

The leaks revealed that the main male character, who initially appeared as a pro-democracy student activist, was in fact a North Korean spy infiltrating South Korea. This revelation sparked concerns among Korean citizens about the drama, potentially misrepresenting history. 

The suspicions were fueled by various settings and character portrayals, all within the context of the 1980 7th June struggle and peaceful mass protest movement that played a pivotal role in South Korea's transition to democracy. 

Even though jTBC expressed that the story was fictional and they didn't intend to distort history, at least 30 different petitions demanding the show be canceled were signed. 

The controversy surrounding Snowdrop persisted, leading to the withdrawal of crucial sponsorships even after JTBC's follow-up statement after the drama aired successfully. 

Despite all criticism, the Korea Communications Standards Commission confirmed that from the beginning to the end, Snowdrop didn't misrepresent history or demean Korea's democratization movement. 

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Number 3. Racket Boys 

Admits the realm of sports-themed dramas. One focused on a high school boys badminton team, ignited worldwide disappointment. In its fifth episode, the team heads to Indonesia for a competition. Both coaches and players expressed dissatisfaction due to inadequate accommodations. 

A coach's complaint prompts a dismissive response, implying that such conditions are customary and attributing it to an Indonesian desire to triumph over a South Korean player featured in the drama. 

This portrayal did not sit well with Indonesian viewers, who voiced their disapproval and outrage on social media. Their reaction emphasized that their K-drama fandom does not grant filmmakers carte blanche, demanding an official apology. 

They even influenced the show's IMDb rating. SBS subsequently issued an apology, though some deemed it insufficient. 

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Number 2. Big Mouth

Featuring Lee Jong Suk and Yoona, the crime thriller stirred up controversy for allegedly containing racist lines about Thai culture. In episode two, Jong Suk's character encounters a death row criminal and attempts to provoke him. 

He questions whether the criminal's mother had seaweed soup after giving birth, and what foods she consumed to nurture a psychopath like him. For those unaware, this practice is common among Korean mothers as a tribute to Samshin harmony, the goddess believed to protect women during pregnancy and childbirth. 

As the conversation continues, Jong Suk's character mentions the widely known Thai dish Tom Yum Gung, a hot and sour soup or songy soup. Thai viewers found this exchange unnecessary and racist, expressing their concerns. 

One viewer shared stills of the scene, questioning whether the intent was to be racially offensive. Some Korean netizens speculated that only spicy foods were meant, while others acknowledged the right of Thai viewers to be offended. Despite these voices, the channel and production team have yet to release a statement addressing the criticism. 

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Number 1. The Penthouse Season 3: War in Life

The sequel to the acclaimed crime drama The Penthouse faced accusations of racism due to a character's portrayal. The character in question was Alex Lee, portrayed by actor Park Eun Suk, who also played Logan Lee's older brother. 

The character's appearance featuring a distinctive hairstyle, gold teeth, and tattoos drew scrutiny for perpetuating a stereotypical image associated with black culture. 

As the controversy intensified, the production team released a statement clarifying that their intention was not to ridicule any specific race or culture. 

Additionally, actor Park Eun Suk addressed the matter through his TikTok account, offering an apology. He explained that the character was rooted in admiration for the culture rather than mockery. 

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Also Read:

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Wrapping Up (Top 8 Racist Korean Dramas)

And that concludes our list. In this era where K-dramas have transcended borders, it's crucial for writers to recognize as the global audience and create content that respects all cultures, avoiding potential backlash. We're eager to hear your perspective on this matter, so share your thoughts in the comments down below.


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