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'King The Land' production team releases statement regarding cultural insensitivity

By Camille Santiago Published Jul 11, 2023 6:52 pm

The production team of K-drama King the Land has issued a statement after receiving criticism for its Arab representation in the latest episodes.

According to the team, the settings, characters, regions, and place names in the show are fictional. They also said that they did not intend to "satirize or distort a specific culture."

They assured their viewers that they will be more attentive in the future.

"The production team respects various cultures and will pay more attention to production so that there is no discomfort in viewing," they added.

This came after the airing of episodes 7 and 8 of King The Land, Netflix's current top show. The recent episodes feature the new character, Prince Samir (Anupam Tripathi), a friend of Gu Won’s (Lee Junho’s) from when he was studying abroad. Samir visited King Hotel and instantly fell in love with Cheon Sa Rang (YoonA), making his friend Gu Won jealous.

Samir was also portrayed as a womanizer who frequents nightclubs and enjoys drinking.

Viewers criticized the drama for disrespecting the Arab culture. In Muslim culture, alcohol is considered forbidden and men are not allowed to touch any part of a woman's body.

Some felt it was also inappropriate that an Indian actor portray an Arabic character.

"They brought an Indian actor, put him in Arab traditional clothes, and make him act as if he’s uneducated and obsessed with alcohol and girls… this is extremely disrespectful and offensive. We need an apology," wrote one.

"[I] hate every piece of media when it comes to [A]rabs/[M]uslims representation like pls [I]’d rather not see any. all of them are super offensive and rude," wrote another one.

"Did King The Land team rlly have to add this unnecessary [A]rab prince part and also make him an annoying dumb womanizer[?] plus the outfits for him and his guards? the bg music? it’s the same old stereotypes mocking [A]rabs for 'comedy,'" tweeted a viewer.

This is not the first time a K-drama show was accused of stereotyping a certain culture.

When episode 5 of Racket Boys aired, its Indonesian viewers were triggered and called the show racist over a scene where coach Fang (Ahn Nae-sang) complains about the venue and its lack of facilities for the badminton match in Jakarta. The Indonesian players and stadium audience were portrayed badly, too.

True to Love was also called out after the main lead, Yeon Bo-ra, a life coach and dating influencer, compared the importance of maintaining one's appearance with the efforts of prisoners in the Auschwitz concentration camp.