S. Korean drama ‘King the Land’ offers apology over 'insulting' Arab royal character

S. Korean drama ‘King the Land’ offers apology over 'insulting' Arab royal character
The apology was the second offered by the creators, after the first was deemed inadequate by some fans.
2 min read
14 July, 2023
The character, Prince Samir, is depicted in a white kandura and keffiyeh [Getty]

The creators of South Korean drama ‘King the Land’ have offered a full apology following backlash over the depiction of an Arab royal in the series.

A statement from Npio Entertainment, BY4M Studio and Studio LuluLaLa was uploaded onto the show's website as well as on South Korean broadcaster JTBC Drama’s Instagram page. in Korean, English and Arabic following uproar over a characted, supposedly from the Gulf region, deemed by many viewers to be racist.

It was the second apology the show's creators had issued in a week, after a previous one was deemed inadequate. 

"[We express] our deep and sincere apology for causing unnecessary inconvenience to our viewers without full consideration of other valued cultures," the statement read, adding that the makers had the "sharp realization that there has been a lack of understanding, experience, and consideration for other cultures".

The character in question, who is featured in episodes seven and eight, is hotel guest Prince Samir, played by Indian actor Anupam Tripathi, who is depicted wearing a white kandura and ghutra, traditionally worn in the Gulf.

In one scene Prince Samir, in traditional dress, attends a nightclub, surrounded by women and with open bottles of alcohol. The portrayal prompted backlash from viewers for the depiction deemed stereotypical and culturally insensitive.

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The studio also said that they would "take a thorough look into the part of the video which was considered problematic, and do our best to make sure that the right measures are taken".

"We earnestly promise to our viewers that more care will be taken down the road so that there will be no inconvenience in viewing our content," the statement added.

The show is currently being aired on JTBC, as well as Netflix, and is premised on the relationship between hotel heir Goo Won, played by Lee Jun-ho, and hotelier Cheon Sa-Rang, played by Im Yoon-ah.

Korean popular culture is hugely popular in the Gulf region and young people there were ahead of much of the world in embracing the so-called K-Pop phenomenon.

Many of Korea's biggest musicians have played gigs in the region with BTS performing in Riyadh in 2019 and Jungkook singing at the 2022 World Cup in Doha.