BEIJING — Chinese President Hu Jintao may be an avid viewer of Korean sudsers, but different interpretations of Chinese history and Korea’s founding myths may see South Korea’s top skein banned from Chinese screens.
Sheer popularity has not been enough to stop Korean Wave star Bae Yong-joon’s $46 million skein “The Four Guardian Gods of the King” being blacklisted by state media watchdogs because of its view of Chinese history.
The mega-drama, also referred to as “Taewangsasingi,” is by far the biggest TV show in Korean history and has drawn a one-in-five-plus household rating in South Korea.
But skein is now on the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television blacklist and may be banned on the mainland for “distorting Chinese history.”
The complex plot covers multiple periods in ancient Korean history, including the founding of the Gojoseon Kingdom in 2,333 B.C. and the reign of King Gwanggaeto of the Goguryeo Kingdom (391-413 A.D.). The Goguryeo era has emerged as a point of contention in recent years, with Chinese scholars claiming it should be considered part of Chinese history.
The national founding mythologies of China and Korea overlap and there is intense rivalry over various aspects of early history.
The Oriental Morning Post says elements of the skein were not popular in South Korea, which would seem to be belied by the huge ratings.
The article goes on to accuse other big sudsers of “smearing Chinese history,” including “Dae Jo-yeong,” which contains a scene of attempted assassination that never happened, and “Yeon-Gaesomun,” which depicts the Tang emperor Li Shimin as “ugly” and “foolish” and the army as having to beg for mercy.
“In ‘The Immortal Lee Soon Shin,’ soldiers and equipment from China’s Ming Dynasty are shown much feebler than they were, and Ming Dynasty figures are not in accord with history,” the report says.