2 'King of Tears' episodes delayed after death of horse on set
Episodes of "The King of Tears, Lee Bang-won" have been delayed after complaints were received and lawsuits filed alleging animal abuse during the filming of the KBS historical drama.
Two episodes, 13 and 14, scheduled to air Jan. 22 and 23 will be aired two weeks later. Two special episodes have also been delayed.
The episode that led to the complaints, episode 7, has been removed from the broadcaster's video-on-demand service and other streaming platforms.
A petition demanding that the show be canceled altogether was posted on the Blue House Petition Board Friday. As of Sunday afternoon, the post had 131,046 supporters. The series has 19 more episodes remaining.
State-funded KBS, the broadcaster of the drama series, apologized for the incident saying that it was an "unfortunate accident." Despite the fact that the area had been "prepared and checked" before the actual filming, the horse's upper body hit the ground "harder than we had anticipated," it said in the statement.
"KBS says that the incident was an 'accident' but the scene was meticulously planned and the horse was abused on purpose," said Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) said in a statement Thursday.
The Korean Animal Welfare Association (KAWA) said that the recent issue is not a one-time incident.
"This is not the first time that an animal has been utilized as a mere prop on set. Through this incident, we will try and provide safety standards to protect animals on set," KAWA said Thursday.
Both associations have filed lawsuits against KBS.
According to KARA on Friday, the horse on "The King of Tears, Lee Bang-won" was a recently retired racehorse named Kami.
"Kami had to live its entire life for the entertainment of humans," KARA said on Friday. "We hope that no more animals live and die like Kami did and that our society can grow into one that does not harm animals."
More incidents are surfacing.
"Jeong Do-jeon," a KBS historical drama series that aired 2014, also includes scenes of horses falling in the similar manner as Kami. "Jeong Do-jeon" was also directed by one of the producers on "The King of Tears, Lee Bang-won."
"In a country where its content is globally viewed, the level of awareness about animal rights is just baffling," said the Korea Association for Animal Protection during a press conference Friday.
The association also added that the perception of animal abuse on Korean movie and television production sets seems to be decade behind the standards in Hollywood.
In the United States, the American Humanist Association (AHA) monitors animals on set under the American Humane Association's Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media. If sets do not meet the standards of the association and its guidelines, AHA can sanction productions.
The issue of Kami was brought to the public eye Wednesday when KAWA and KARA voiced concerns on their Instagram pages about the health of a horse during a scene in "The King of Tears, Lee Bang-won" and urged KBS to reveal the footage of the original scene.
Footage released by KBS shows wires or ropes around one of Kami's hind legs that were pulled by the crew to trip Kami, resulting in the horse tumbling to the ground head first.
The stuntman on Kami went flying into the air. He had been on the horse with minimal safety gear and lost consciousness for a few minutes after the fall.
The video clip shows staff running to check on the actor who fell to the ground, but it does not show anyone checking the condition of the horse.
KBS said that it was under the impression that the horse was fine after the fall because it got up by itself. It later found that Kami had died one week after the event.
Starring actors Joo Sang-wook and Kim Young-chul, "The King of Tears, Lee Bang-won" revolves around the story of Korea's king Taejong or Lee Bang-won who helps his father overthrow the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) and establish the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).
BY LEE JIAN [email@example.com]