On July 9, Soompi reported that K-drama Backstreet Rookie, which stars Kim Yoo Jung and Ji Chang Wook, is under review by the Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC). The drama is currently being aired on the South Korean channel Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS).
Backstreet Rookie focuses on the relationship between a convenience store part-timer (Yoo Jung) and the store's manager (Chang Wook). The Jakarta Post writes that the series is actually based on the adult webtoon Convenience Store Saet Byul. However, prior to its first episode, the show's producers "promised" that it would be a "hilarious family rom-com."
According to Media Today, as reported by Soompi, the show has received more than 6,000 complaints. People who filed them said that the drama sexually objectified underage women and included sexually suggestive scenes. Some of these scenes include a high-schooler flirting with—and kissing—a man much older than her and asking him to buy her cigarettes, and the portrayal of a prostitution ring.
A committee member of the KOCSC pointed out: "The reason why there are so many civil complaints is that the webtoon Backstreet Rookie was rated 19+, but they tried to change it to 15+. However, they were careless when it came to things like editing. Language that was heavily sexually suggestive and lewd was used indiscriminately. Although it is a drama, the ethical and emotional harm to teenagers is great."
Committee member Kang Jin Sook added that it does not seem to be a show a family can enjoy: "When looking at the webtoon, female teenagers are sexually objectified through the perspective of men. Since that webtoon was used as the original work, the drama also has many problematic scenes commodifying women...The directing used in the webtoon is felt in various places of the drama. There is a fundamental problem."
Backstreet Rookie has also received criticism for its use of blackface. International viewers have been calling out the scene where a man, who introduces himself as Nigerian, encounters the character Dal Shik, who has a similar dreadlock hairstyle. They both agree that they are from the "same Jamaican family" even though Dal Shik is Korean, and end up dancing together.
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