'Joseon Exorcist' writer, director apologize as SBS cancels show
The screenwriter, director and cast of TV series “Joseon Exorcist” apologized over the weekend for the show that has been widely criticized for historical inaccuracy, after broadcaster SBS decided on Friday to cancel the horror-fantasy-action drama which features real historical figures as main characters.
“I sincerely apologize for the serious trouble my inconsiderate writing has caused viewers,” screenwriter Park Gye-ok said in a statement.
“I should have learned from my past mistakes,” he continued. “I should have expressed sufficient respect for the heroes who founded the Joseon dynasty in history but took advantage of the genre of the show, which is fantasy, and made easy decisions.
“Still, I never intended to distort history.”
Park previously faced a backlash for a scene in his previous tvN series “Mr. Queen” (2020-2021), in which the protagonist calls the Unesco-listed “Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty” a “tabloid.”
In “Joseon Exorcist,” two scenes received especially strong criticism.
One is a sequence in which King Taejong (1367-1422), possessed by an evil spirit, slaughters innocent people. Historically, Taejong is generally regarded as a successful and respectable monarch.
The other is a scene in which a young King Sejong the Great (1397-1450) treats a Catholic priest from Europe with Chinese food instead of Korean food.
The fact that Park is under contract with a Hangzhou-based production company led some people to suggest that he intentionally wrote such misleading scenes. Even Korean media critics warned that regardless of the intentions of the production team, such scenes could be easy ammunition for Chinese netizens who have recently argued that kimchi, hanbok and other Korean cultural icons originated from China.
As the TV show reignited the Korea-China cultural feud, Shin Kyung-soo, director of “Joseon Exorcist,” also released an apology, while emphasizing that “We didn’t make the scenes in question with a biased historical awareness or a certain intention, but all of them resulted from my lack of [knowledge and skills] in directing the show.”
The main cast of “Joseon Exorcist,” including Kam Woo-sung, who played King Taejong, and Jang Dong-yoon, who played King Sejong the Great, also apologized on social media.
“Although ‘Joseon Exorcist’ was a fictional drama involving evil spirits, it presented real historical figures as characters... As an actor playing one of the characters, I failed to recognize the possibility that it could be received as historical distortion,” Kam wrote on Instagram.
“I was ignorant about the matter, I have no excuse, I apologize,” Jang wrote on his agency’s Instagram page.
BY MOON SO-YOUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]