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'Moorim School' Enrages Chinese Viewers After Burning Yuan In An Episode

BY Adrienne Stanley | Jan 21, 2016 02:56 PM EST

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The KBS2 teen drama, "Moorim School" is at the center of controversy after Chinese netizens expressed their displeasure at a scene where Hongbin of VIXX and Lee Hyun Woo burn several yuan notes, the currency used in mainland China. 

According to an English-language report published by The Korea Times, several Chinese outlets reported the negative response from viewers. 

"[Moorim School] no intentions to defame China or Chinese culture," said KBS spokesperson. "Moorim School' reruns and VOD (video on demand) will partially delete the image." 

The fourth episode of the supernatural school drama, which aired on January 19, depicts the actors in a wooded, nighttime setting, where they are faced with the decision of burning the yuan or struggling through the winter weather. 

Hongbin portrays Wang Chi Ang, a privileged Chinese high schooler who returns to the Korea, at the request of his parents. However, Hongbin is a Korean-born native who does not claim heritage from mainland China. 

His agency, Jellyfish Entertainment, has yet to issue a statement regarding the situation. 

The prevailing sentiment of domestic forum users was that the responses from Chinese netizens were harsher than what was necessary. But there were several Korean-language posts which showed empathy towards viewers who were angered by the scene.

"[It is an] act which undermines the legislation that burning money is illegal in China and the face of the [notes depict] Chinese currency," said one commenter, in a statement published by Star Seoul TV.

Another respondent drew a correlation between the expectations American citizens have for treatment of the U.S. dollar. 

"Do you think American citizens would [deliver] wrath if Chow Yun Fan [a Chinese film star] appeared to burn dollars," questioned another forum user. 

The controversy surrounding "Moorim School," follows a highly contentious scandal involving Tzuyu, the 16-year-old Taiwan-born member of the K-pop girl group TWICE, who was accused of supporting the Taiwanese independence movement. 

The claims against Tzuyu were issued through several inflammatory Weibo posts published by Huang An, a Chinese vocalist who delivered the claims after watching a scene from the variety show, "My Little Television,"  where the young K-pop idol waves the flag for Korea and Taiwan. 

The "Moorim School" controversy follows recent reports regarding the tenuous relationship between Korean drama producers and mainland Chinese censors, which has led to the burgeoning trend of post-production broadcasts, as led by "Descendants of the Sun."

"In China, a major market for exported South Korean shows, tightening regulations concerning domestic streaming sites greatly impacted the South Korean TV industry's performance in the market," said a reporter for the Global Times, an English-language publication that covers mainland Chinese news. 

As K-Drama and K-pop continue to infiltrate the mainland market, allegations of cultural or historical insensitivity may become more prevalent than previously expected. 

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