Vietnam’s Ministry of Defense has asked producers of a TV series to fix mistakes in how they have portrayed Vietnamese soldiers.
The Vietnamese version of the hugely popular South Korean serial, “Descendants of the Sun”, dealing with love on the battlefield, has sparked controversy over “serious mistakes” that viewers have spotted and protested.
Directed by Tran Huu Loc, the series tells the story of officers of the NH1 Coast Guard fighting crime and protecting the country. It includes a love story between a captain and a female army doctor.
As of Wednesday, Vietnam Cable Television (VTC) had already screened 12 of 48 episodes (two a day, three days a week). An online backlash ensued almost immediately after the screenings began, with people outraged about “unacceptable” mistakes about army rank, military uniform and manners of Vietnamese soldiers.
They said such a portrayal would lead to misconceptions and serious impact on the image of Vietnam’s armed forces.
The outrage has prompted the defense ministry to step in and instruct VTC to work with the production team to correct the mistakes before broadcasting subsequent episodes of the serial.
Major General Nguyen Van Duc, head of Department of Propaganda and Training under the Political Bureau of the Vietnam People’s Army, said at a press conference Tuesday that the serial has incorrectly depicted military customs, manners and uniforms of the Vietnam People Army, creating an image of naval soldiers that are “not relevant” to real life.
The defense ministry has not advised, verified or been involved in the censorship process for the serial, Duc said.
One Vietnamese film producer who preferred to remain anonymous said that in duplicating the original South Korean serial, the makers of the Vietnamese version ignored the completely different geographical and military contexts of the two countries.
This has resulted in “illogical, ridiculous” details, he said.
An unnamed reader wrote, saying that although he has never served in the army, he could easily spot the “ridiculous” mistakes in the serial.
For example, in the 10th episode, the scene where a group of bodyguards of a foreign financial oligarchy rushes to the hospital and points guns at Vietnamese naval officers and doctors was “inappropriate” and “melodramatic,” the reader said.
Phan Chi Thanh, director of VTC’s Program Coordination Center, said as cited by Voice of Vietnam (VOV), the station was working closely with the production team to fix mistakes as requested by the defense ministry. VTC is a member unit of VOV.
“The production team is seeking the advice of military experts to make the serial better,” Thanh said.
It remains uncertain if broadcasting of the serial will be suspended till the errors are fixed. The broadcaster has not received any official document from the ministry.