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‘King the Land’ went well after overcoming harsh criticism…

Controversy Surrounds JTBC Drama ‘King the Land’ Over Arab Culture Portrayal

South Korean NETFLIX drama ‘King the Land’ has caused controversy with its portrayal of the character Prince Samir, played by Indian actor Anupam Tripathi. Photo: mydramlist.com



In a recent episode of the popular JTBC drama ‘King the Land,’ viewers noticed an unsettling portrayal of Arab culture, leading to widespread criticism. The character in question, Arab prince Samir, played by Anupam Tripathi, visited the King Hotel, the main setting of the series. Throughout the episode, Samir was depicted as an antagonist, engaging in a constant battle of wits with the protagonist, salvation, portrayed by Lee Jun-ho. However, the way Samir was portrayed raised concerns.

The problematic portrayal of Samir included scenes where he was shown drinking alcohol and socializing with women at a club. Additionally, Samir’s character was involved in a romantic subplot, instantly falling in love with Cheonrang, played by Im Yoon-ah, and being suspicious of her motives. The portrayal of Samir perpetuated stereotypes and created a caricature of Arab culture.

Arab viewers who watched the episode voiced their disappointment, criticizing ‘King the Land’ for demeaning Arabs and Muslims through the perpetuation of prejudiced stereotypes. The criticism was not limited to international viewers, as domestic netizens also expressed their support for the Arab community’s concerns, deeming the scenes disrespectful and racist. Another issue raised was the casting of an Indian actor as an Arab prince, which further added to the controversy.

YoonA and Lee Jun-ho star in King the Land. PHOTO VIA asianwiki



In response to the backlash, the production team of ‘King the Land’ stated, “The characters, regions, and place names depicted in the drama are fictional, and there was no intention to caricature or distort any specific culture.” They promised to approach future episodes with more sensitivity to ensure such incidents do not occur again.

Despite the controversy, ‘King the Land’ has experienced a significant increase in viewership. The drama began with a modest 5.1% audience rating in its first episode, according to Nielsen Korea nationwide data. However, the recent episodes have witnessed a substantial rise, surpassing 12% viewership and more than doubling its initial numbers. Although some viewers found the initial episodes filled with exaggerated scenes and clichés, the captivating storyline and the chemistry between Yuna Lim and Junho Lee have contributed to the show’s growing popularity.

This is not the first time that a Korean drama has faced criticism for misrepresenting foreign cultures or history. Previous dramas such as ‘Bora Deborah’ and ‘Penthouse’ also received backlash for their inaccurate portrayal of diverse cultures. As the demand for K-content on a global scale continues to increase, it becomes essential for the industry to exercise caution and ensure accurate and respectful representation of different cultures.

The controversy surrounding King the Land highlights the significance of responsible storytelling and the potential impact of media on cultural perceptions. It serves as a reminder that entertainment has the power to shape our understanding of various cultures and should be approached with sensitivity and respect. As viewers, we play a crucial role in demanding accurate and inclusive representation in the media we consume.

A still of Junho and YoonA from ‘King The Land.’ Credits: hancinema.net

In conclusion, the recent controversy surrounding ‘King the Land’ and its portrayal of Arab culture sheds light on the need for responsible storytelling in the entertainment industry. While the drama’s popularity has soared, it is essential to address concerns raised by viewers regarding the misrepresentation and caricature of Arab culture. The incident serves as a valuable lesson for content creators and viewers alike, emphasizing the importance of cultural sensitivity and accurate representation in media.

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