Vietnamese Journalists Gives “Descendants of the Sun” a Scathing Review
Ben Cho, March 31, 2016, 9:54 a.m.
Amid the growing popularity of KBS 2TV’s drama series “Descendants of the Sun” in Vietnam, a journalist there expressed woes Sunday that fans’ amicable reactions to the series might water down criticism of a series of massacres carried out by Korean soldiers during the Vietnam War.
Tran Quang Thi, Ho Chi Minh City-based reporter for Tuoi Tre Newspaper, said on Facebook that it would be a disgrace if “a glamorized image of the Korean Army was televised.” His post was shared by some 90,000 Facebook users as of Thursday.
Korean daily Hankyoreh ran an article Wednesday quoting his post. The journalist argued that, during the two-decade-long warfare, innocent civilians were killed or raped and hamlets were wiped out by Korean soldiers who were deployed as part of the anticommunist coalition.
He added he would never imagine Koreans tolerating drama series or films that praise Japanese soldiers, considering Koreans’ persistent hostility toward Japanese colonization. “In South Korea, surely no one would dare think about it. But ‘Descendants of the Sun’ (featuring Korean soldiers which once invaded our country) is to be aired in Vietnam!”
His post came after Vietnamese fans of the series mimicked military officer Yoo Shi-jin and surgeon Kang Mo-yeon -- played by Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo -- and posted the combat uniform-clad photos online. One of the photos included wedding pictorials themed on the drama.
“I’m not saying people do not have the right to see the film,” he said. “But if someday a glamorized movie image of the Korean army is televised in Vietnam, the best word to describe the fact would be this: disgrace!”
Tran also said most Koreans had fallen short of acknowledging their wrongdoings. The Hankyoreh -- the same news organization that carried Tran’s quote -- shed light on the Korean soldiers’ massacres by publishing articles, but was met with violent protests by veterans of the conflict, including an arson attack on the paper’s office and destruction of computers and other equipment. The veterans’ advocacy group has claimed that Korean soldiers were nothing to do with the massacres and called the Hankyoreh’s reports “defamation.”
The Hankyoreh planned to preside over an event involving survivors from the mass killings last year, but was deterred by veteran advocacy group’s all-out opposition. Tran told Hankyoreh in an email interview Wednesday that the reactions from younger Vietnamese “surprised” him.
The series, being aired through KBS 2TV and Chinese online video streaming service provier iQiYi, depicts Korean soldiers’ lives and struggles while deployed in a fictional country called Uruk. Buoyed by high popularity from Korean and Chinese fans, the drama was sold to 27 nations, including Vietnam, according to a Yonhap News Agency report on March 23.