King The Land Criticized For Allegedly Distorting Arab Culture

Criticism on King The Land Korean drama

King the Land, which premiered on June 17, 2023 on JTBC, is an ongoing South Korean television series. It stars two Korean pop idols, Lee Jun-ho of the boy band, 2PM, and Im Yoon-ah of Girls Generation.

It is one of the most anticipated K-Drama this year and enjoyed a high viewer's rating during its opening. 

Criticism on King The Land Korean drama
Indian actor, Anupam Tripathi, plays Prince Samir in King The Land 

However, when it dropped episode 7, the show earned a massive backlash from the Arab community for allegedly distorting the Arab culture.

In episode 7, the character, Samir, portrayed by Indian actor, Anupam Tripathi — popularly known as Ali Abdul from "Squid Game" — was introduced as a wealthy Arab Prince. 

But the portrayal of his character didn't sit well with most viewers, especially those from Middle Eastern and Muslim communities.

Criticism on King The Land Korean drama

In the episode, Samir appears to be a friend of Lee Jun-ho's character and was invited to his hotel to enjoy the night. Samir was portrayed as a womanizer and an alcoholic. 

He was seen hanging out in a luxurious club surrounded by women and was labeled a "playboy" who made girls fall in love with him.

As Jun-ho's character calls up Prince Samir, inviting him to his hotel, Samir seems to be seated in a bar, consuming alcohol, while being surrounded by women. 

Many felt that the character who's supposed to represent the Arab community as their prince, was showcased as someone who's uneducated while being obsessed with alcohol and women. 

Viewers deemed the portrayal "disgusting and racist," while others slammed the production for casting an Indian actor to play an Arab character. 

Following the backlash, JBTC Drama shared a statement responding to the controversy.

"The characters, regions, and place names appearing in the drama are all fictitious settings, and [Samir] was not portrayed as a prince of a specific country."

King The Land previously achieved its highest rating yet in South Korea, scoring an average nationwide rating of 12.3%. 

Criticism on King The Land Korean drama
Lee Jun-ho and Im Yoon-ah of  King The Land. Photo credit: Netflix Korea

Criticism on King The Land Korean drama
Lee Jun-ho and Im Yoon-ah of  King The Land. Photo credit: Netflix Korea

The series is scheduled to air every Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 p.m. (KST) on JTBC and streaming platforms TVING in South Korea and Netflix. It will run for 16 episodes, with the last episode airing on August 6, 2023.

Updated: July 13, 2023

JTBC, the original network of King The Land published an apology regarding the controversial scene.

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