The Korean Consul General in Vietnam has ordered SBS – a major South Korean television channel – to cease broadcasting a film that features dialog believed to offend Vietnamese women following Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper’s reportage of it.
SBS has publicly apologized to Vietnamese people for airing such a picture – “Modern Farmer” – that has sparked fury in Vietnam.
The consul general, Hong Hyeon Joo, talked to SBS’s representatives on Thursday shortly after learning of the incident and immediately demanded the channel stop airing that Korean drama, Kim Sung Hwan, Hong’s secretary, told Tuoi Tre the same day.
Consul General Hong also requested SBS not to broadcast other dramas with content and lines that can cause misunderstandings about Vietnamese women.
The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Vietnam also urged Korean channels not broadcast films with similar sensitive, controversial content or dialog.
“Modern Farmer” is a series which stars Lee Hong-gi, Park Min-woo, Lee Si-eon, Kwak Dong-yeon, and Lee Ha-nui and has been broadcast on SBS at 8:40 pm every Saturday and Sunday since October 18.
Several days ago, Thuy Linh, a Vietnamese major in Korean studies, posted a screenshot of the second episode of the series on her Facebook page.
The screen capture shows a middle-aged mother trying to wake up her heavily drunk son.
Half asleep, the son insists he is set to get married.
“You always drink everyday, so you couldn’t bring a girl back from Vietnam,” [sic] the mother then tells him, according to the English subtitles.
Linh watched with Vietnamese subtitles and her friend – a Tuoi Tre newspaper contributor – later traced the line back to its English translation.
Even though the English translation seems not to indicate any clear offense, the mother’s Korean line does suggest that even Vietnamese women who are believed to be the easiest to marry will not accept a drunkard like him and he thus needs to fight his fondness for the bottle if he is to marry a girl.
The line has sparked outrage among Vietnamese over the past few days as its implication is believed to belittle and disparage Vietnamese brides who marry Korean men in particular and local women in general.
Around a thousand comments from Tuoi Tre readers, including men, have flooded in the past few days, expressing fury and feelings of disgrace at the seemingly contemptuous line.
The episode containing the line was broadcast on SBS on October 19, according to Kim – the consul general’s secretary.
He also made it clear to Tuoi Tre that the filmmaker did not mean to express contempt for Vietnamese women in that dialog.
According to the storyline, the son earlier looked for a wife in Vietnam but failed to find one.
His mother’s line is only meant to remind him of that particular circumstance.
Kim added the film’s translations do not exactly match its content.
He added that the director unreasonably arranged the episodes featuring the son’s unfruitful quest for a wife in Vietnam after the one containing the controversial line, which has resulted in misunderstandings among Vietnamese audiences.
Also on Thursday, SBS sent the Korean Embassy in Vietnam an email regarding the incident along with a public apology to Vietnamese people following the conversation with the consul general.
The channel management asked the embassy to transfer the email and apology to Tuoi Tre and Vietnamese people.
SBS also posted the apology on its official website, saying the scene and line were meant to accentuate the son’s vices only, not to show disrespect for Vietnamese women at all.
It is truly sorry as the dialog has hurt Vietnamese people’s feelings, the channel said, promising to produce next films with better preparations and considerateness.
Secretary Kim said the embassy appreciates Tuoi Tre’s goodwill and honesty in fully covering the issue.
“We’re really thankful to Tuoi Tre for its timely, objective coverage and comments,” Kim added.