*Trigger warning: Animal abuse, death of an animal*
The KBS series The King Of Tears, Lee Bang Won has received a high viewership rating for its pilot episode last December 11. A month after, the TV show is receiving backlash due to alleged animal abuse, and petitions were filed to cancel its production.
What is the K-drama The King Of Tears, Lee Bang Won?
The traditional sageuk (historical) drama is KBS' first period series since 2016 and it revolves around King Taejong, aka Lee Bang Won. Together with his father, he established the Joseon Dynasty and put an end to the Goryeo Dynasty. According to Soompi, K-dramas under this genre has a large production budget and a long-running plot. They also show real-life events that happened in the past. The King Of Tears, Lee Bang Won is led by Joo Sang Wook, Kim Young Chul, Park Jin Hee, and Ye Ji Won.
What is the issue The King Of Tears, Lee Bang Won is facing?
Episode seven of The King Of Tears, Lee Bang Won featured a scene where a character fell off a horse by accident. The viewers of the drama noticed it and raised allegations of animal abuse to the Korean Animal Welfare Association (KAWA). The non-profit organization has then issued a statement on Instagram and attached a behind-the-scenes clip of the tragic incident.
In the video, an actor was seen riding a horse and he was thrown on the ground. The horse, who was tied to a wire, fell hard and landed on his neck. The animal remained still for a few minutes and it struggled to move afterward.
Aside from the wire which "was used to forcefully make the animal fall to the ground," netizens pointed out that the production team examined the actor's state but no one checked on the horse.
The filming technique where a wire is involved was used in the 1930s, and KAWA can't believe that the method is still utilized by a broadcasting company today. One Twitter user voiced out his opinion online and shared: "The show could have saved the horse if they opted for CGI instead. This is just horrible. Apologized only when they were caught."
KAWA soon asked KBS for an update on the horse's condition and the broadcasting company has confirmed that it died a week after the scene was filmed. KBS mentioned this in their apology statement which was released on January 20: "We cannot help but take serious responsibility for this unfortunate incident that has occurred. We apologize to the viewers for not preventing this accident and causing such an unfortunate event." KBS also said that they will find a different way to film the scenes, apart from consulting animal experts.
However, viewers are not convinced and they are demanding KBS to stop the drama's production after it violated the animal protection law. One of the petitions was filed on Cheong Wa Dae (the website of the Blue House or the office of the President) and has garnered more than 80,000 signatures as of writing. Korean celebrities have also expressed their disappointment online. "This is horrible. The stunt actor was injured and the horse ended up dying. I hope that the actor recovers soon. Animals on filming sets are not props, they are live animals," said actress Kim Hyo Jin.
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