SEOUL, Aug. 29 (Korea Bizwire) – The South Korean box-office hit Midnight Runners starring actors Park Seo-joon and Kang Ha-neul, which has attracted over 5 million moviegoers, is receiving backlash from Korean Chinese activist groups over the depiction of the ethnic minority group, which the activists claim perpetuates negative racial stereotypes.
A group of Korean Chinese and activists gathered at Daerim Station in Guro District on Sunday to protest against the hit action-comedy film over what they called ‘blatant’ negative stereotypes surrounding the ethnic minority group in South Korea, calling for an immediate suspension of the screening of the movie and demanding a formal apology.
In a press conference statement, Park Ok-sun, the chairwoman of a special committee looking out for the interests of the Korean Chinese community, said, “(the movie) excessively smeared Korean Chinese people and depicted the neighborhood of Daerim as a hotbed of crime, thwarting the efforts of 700,000 Korean Chinese compatriots and South Korean society to coexist and revamp the community’s image as safe and lively.
“I decry the movie’s depiction of my community as a dangerous place ridden with violent gangs of Korean Chinese decent and best to be avoided, when Daerim District is trying to become a cultural and tourist town.
“Even if it’s done in the name of creative arts, generalizing marginalized members of society as a group of criminals and portraying a certain area as a crime-ridden neighborhood really crosses the line, which I believe is grounds for suspension,” Park said.
Lee Dong-woon, who participated in the protest as a representative of Korean Chinese businesses, said, “The movie spits in the face of the coexistence in harmony between South Koreans and Korean Chinese people. I’m worried the movie could have a negative impact on the economy of Daerim District, one of the largest commercial districts in Seoul.”
Kim Sung-hak, the head of the Korean Chinese federation, says the movie failed to acknowledge that it’s fictional.
“Though the movie production company and director say it’s not based on a true story, there is no mention that the movie is fictional and I feel ignored,” he said.
The main plot of Midnight Runners involves two young police trainees who witness a gang of Chinese people of Korean descent, widely known as ‘Joseonjok’, a term many consider to have negative connotations in South Korean society, kidnapping runaway children for illegal organ trafficking, depicting Daerim District as a crime-ridden neighborhood where police have effectively lost control.
By Hyunsu Yim
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