Japan Journalist Takes Issue With Yi Sun-shin Drama

    August 05, 2005 17:17

    The Seoul bureau chief of Japan's Sankei Shimbun has thrown down the gauntlet to Korea’s famously fierce patriots by pointing to historical distortions in the hit TV drama "Immortal Admiral Yi Sun-shin." According to AGB Nielsen Media Research, the KBS drama about the national hero who repulsed the Japanese invasion of 1592-98 recorded viewer ratings of 28.5 percent on July 31.

    In his column in the July 30 edition of the Sankei Shimbun, Katsuhiro Kuroda writes, "Although it gives a fairly serious account of Yi's anguish at being caught up in the power struggles of the Chosun court, the depiction of Japan or the Japanese is ridiculous, and that reduces the impact of the drama as a whole."

    He said famous commanders from the Sengoku Period like Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Konishi Yukinaga are rendered cartoon-style and given to hollow laughter. More, "Despite the fact that the period is the late Sengoku Period, in back of Hideyoshi's throne is a ukiyo-e (a genre of the later Edo Period) by Katsushika Hokusai." While most of the troops dispatched to Korea by Hideyoshi were from Nagoya in Saga Prefecture, another Nagoya, in Aichi Prefecture, keeps being shown. Artistic license or not, Kuroda says, a historical drama should be based on proper historical research.

    Katsuhiro Kuroda

    Neither does the show seriously consider why the foolish scholarly elites ignore Yi Yul-gok's advice to train a 100,000-man army, or why Yi Sun-shin met his death while “needlessly pursuing retreating Japanese troops." Then comes the clincher: "Perhaps to a people who have had a warped understanding of Korea's history with Japan, these points may be difficult to understand."

    Kuroda in no stranger to controversy. In April, when Seoul-Tokyo ties grew tense, he said during a briefing by Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, "Korea asks for an apology every time there's a change in administration, and that makes it questionable whether Korea is pursuing normal diplomacy and whether it's a normal nation."

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