Korean history dramas have been a subject of controversies and criticism for a long time. Mr Queen is the latest in this list. Shin Hye Sun and Kim Jung Hyun starrer Mr Queen has come under fire for insulting Korean history in the latest episode aired recently.
Mr Queen is a story of a man's soul from modern times getting trapped inside the body of a queen from the Joseon era. Shin Hye Sun plays the role of Queen Cheorin, a real queen who existed in the Joseon period [from 1837 to 1878]. Mr Queen is a historical fantasy drama and premiered on Dec. 12.
Based on Chinese Drama Go Princess Go
The drama is based on the Chinese web drama Go Princess Go which was adapted from the novel of the same name. But the controversy rose after netizens found out that the writer of the drama Go Princess Go, Xian Chen had also written a book Princess Amity where he had used derogatory words against Korea and its history.
Mr Queen met with criticism as soon as the first episode was aired. People said that there was a limit to making historic incidents look funny. Many expressed their disappointment about Mr Queen crossing the limits, mainly because the characters in the drama are based on stories of real-life people.
The controversy blew out of proportion after the second episode was aired. One of the characters in the drama was seen referring to the Annals [yearly records] of Joseon Dynasty as jirashi. The word was taken as an insult to the Korean history. In reality, Joseon annals consisting of 1,893 volumes are designated as the 151st national treasure of Korea. They have also found a place on UNESCO's Memory of the World Registry. But jirashi refers to a newsletter full of unconfirmed private information including rumors and speculation.
This has been taken seriously by the netizens who have directed their anger against the production team of Mr Queen. This led to the production team of the drama to issue a clarification. The team clarified that they had brought the rights to the Chinese web drama and not the controversial original work.
Reacting to the first controversy, the team stated: "At the time of the contract, we were not aware that the novelist of the original work of web drama Go Princess Go had written negative comments about Korea in his another work, Princess Amity."
"We sincerely apologize to the viewers for not recognizing this in advance. We plan to do our best in production so that you do not feel uncomfortable while watching the drama as a new creative work different from the original work," the team said.
The team also addressed the Annals controversy and said: "We seriously accept that the line about The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty was inappropriate, and we have deleted the narration that was a problem. In regard to other historical figures and incidents as well, we had no intention to represent them negatively."
It can be remembered that recently aired one of the most popular historic dramas The King Eternal Monarch starring Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun was also criticized for presenting historically misleading facts. From the war ship used in the drama to the crown and royal robe of the King, the drama met with criticism. This had affected the viewership of the drama in Korea. However, the drama was successful in attracting a huge number of international viewers through the streaming platform Netflix.
Currently, Mr Queen's first two episodes have got mass opening with 8.03 percent and 8.8 percent rating. It is not known yet if controversy will affect ratings of the drama. The next episode is slated to air on Dec. 19.