“Mr. Queen” Under Fire For “Mocking Korean History”
TvN‘s recent K-Drama, Mr. Queen, aired last Saturday with some controversies arising after Koreans viewed the first and second episodes. These just added to the already existing controversy that happened when the drama was announced.
Mr. Queen is based on the Chinese novel Tai Zi Fei Sheng Zhi Ji by Xian Chen and also the Chinese adaptation Go Princess, Go! This caused some upset as the writer of the original novel has made negative comments about Korea in the past and allegedly used derogatory slang repeatedly towards Koreans.
At that time, the producer of Mr. Queen stated, “It is true that the drama is based on the original Chinese novel, however, the only element we truly adapted was that the soul of the male lead ends up in the body of the queen. The rest of the story is different.” But that apology didn’t stop more controversies from coming, as scenes from the first two episodes angered Koreans.
Netizens said that it was understandable that funny scenes would occur due to its genre, but they crossed the line, especially as the characters are based on real people in history.
Controversy abounded in episode 2 because of a line in which a character referred to The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty as “merely jirashi.” The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty are the annual records kept by the dynasty and are the 151st national treasure of Korea. They are supposedly the longest continual record of a single dynasty in the world. Jirashi is a newsletter that contains unconfirmed information, which may include rumors and speculation.
In the same episode, Queen Shin Jeong, the wife of Crown Prince Hyomyeong, was shown as a woman obsessed with superstition. A society of ancestors of Queen Shinjeong stated that historical figures should not be mocked lightly.
A few other scenes include: the queen being accused of sexualizing the historical records, a joking comment about royal ancestral rituals at the Jongmyo Shrine, and a courtesan house being named so it pokes fun at the infamous “Burning Sun” scandal.
Yesterday, Mr. Queen’s production team put out this apology:
Mr. Queen is a work that was planned after purchasing the remake televising rights for the drama Go Princess, Go!, which was broadcast in China by the drama’s production company. What was purchased from the production company was the remake televising rights for the drama, not the original novel. Also, at the time of the contract, we were not aware that there were negative comments made about Korea in another work, Princess Amity, by the novelist who wrote the original work that Go Princess, Go! was based on.
…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.
Also, we accept that the line about The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty was inappropriate, and we have deleted the narration. In regard to other historical figures and incidents as well, we had no intention to represent them negatively.
With Mr. Queen as a drama of the “fusion historical fantasy comic” genre, we borrowed figures and settings from history, but it’s fiction based on a creative work that began with the idea of “What would happen if a modern soul met a real figure and caused waves?” We once again express our apologies for causing discomfort, which was contrary to our intention of making people laugh in a healthy way. We will pay closer attention in production and do our best in order to create a good drama.
—Mr. Queen’s Production Team