You might have heard of ‘distortion of history’ several times. History distortion is the misinterpretation of actual historical facts. Recently, many productions like movies or dramas have become embroiled in the history distortion dispute. Some controversies against the history distortion about a drama ‘Mr. Sunshine’ and a movie ‘The Great Battle’ were raised in 2018. The dispute flares up as interests in those historical productions are growing.
There are several examples of dramas and movies that have had some disputes about history distortion. In the drama ‘Mr. Sunshine’, pro-Japanese characters given credible reason for his actions, and it also portrayed as if Koreans eased Japan’s takeover with the line “I would hand over the Joseon Dynasty to Japan only for 50,000 Won”. Even a petition appeared on the Blue website calling on the government to prevent factual errors in period dramas, especially ‘Mr. Sunshine’. Also, a famous drama which recorded30% ratings in 2013, ‘Empress Ki’ was caught up in the history distortion controversy. It described King Chunghye who forced himself on many women and even raped one of his father’s concubines, Princess Gyeonghwa, as an independent person with masculine charm. In the case of the movie ‘The Last Princess’, it described Princess Deokhye as a righteous person. In the movie, she participated in independence movement and refused to wear Japanese clothing. However, it was criticized for distorting history, because there arena records of her participating in the independence movement. Also, even though there was a coercion of the times, she was paid to keep up a certain standard of appearance from Japan.
There are various opinions about the history distortion of cultural creations. Some people say that people should consider history distortion as freedom of creators. Kim Hyeong-yeon (Dept. of History Ed.)said, “As history is the facts about the past events that do not influence recent life, changing its content slightly is not a big problem. Some historical distortion can be accepted depending on the sorts of cultural productions.” Also, the dispute can arouse viewers ‘interest and increase people’s attention to historical knowledge. For example, after ‘Love in the Moonlight’ was on the air, people got more interested in ‘PrinceHyomyeong’ and even ‘Tour for Prince Hyomyeong’ was made. On the other hand, there is an opinion that history distortion should be regulated, because it can convey misleading historical events to the viewers. As the media has a great influence on people, being critical on the media is hard for the viewers, especially viewers abroad and teenagers who lack historical knowledge. Furthermore, some people express concerns about historical distortions because it can defile reputations of historical people. For instance, in the movie ‘The Admiral: Roaring Currents’, an admiral ‘Bae Seol’ was described as a traitor who committed various atrocities. However, in real life, the admiral did not commit those things. Therefore, his descendants filed a libel suit against the filmmaker.
The dispute over history distortion seems to be continuing sharply. Lee Taek-gwang, a professor at Global Communication department in Kyung Hee University said, “I expect the creators to develop responsible attitudes when producing creations and the viewers to research the historical knowledge by their own after watching the productions.”
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