Screening of controversial Chinese film about Korean War canceled

Screening of controversial Chinese film about Korean War canceled

A scene from the film, “The Sacrifice” / Korea Times file

By Kwak Yeon-soo

A screening of a Chinese film about the 1950-53 Korean War has been canceled in Korea after facing an enormous backlash from Koreans. The film is accused of glorifying the Chinese troops that fought against South Korea and killed numerous Koreans and U.N. soldiers.

“The Sacrifice” revolves around the Battle of Kumsong, the final battle between the Chinese People’s Volunteer (CPV) Army and the U.N. Command before the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953. It depicts China’s victory and the deaths of thousands of South Korean soldiers.

The movie drew media attention when the Korea Media Rating Board (KMRB) classified “The Sacrifice” as intended for audiences 15 and older last month. The film was aimed at the internet protocol TV (IPTV) platform, not for cinema release.

The KMRB came under fire for giving the controversial movie the green light to be broadcast here.

“Withholding or refusing classification due to the content or theme of the video is an act of pre-censorship, which is prohibited by the Constitution and is not permissible under the current law,” the KMRB said in a statement.

Despite the organization’s explanation, conservative filmmakers and war veterans condemned the approval and demanded the film be banned from screenings.

“Is the KMRB a South Korean organization or China’s propaganda department? This is utterly shocking and humiliating,” Yoo Seong-min, a presidential contender of the main opposition People Power Party, wrote on Facebook.

The Korean Veterans Association issued a statement which read, “Displaying political propaganda depicting the CPV Army as heroes is an anti-national act that undermines democratic norms and values.”

When faced with an avalanche of criticism for allegedly trying to spread pro-China propaganda and distort history, the film’s importer, Wisdom Film, apologized for causing great pain and disappointment and withdrew its application for the rating for “The Sacrifice.” A film cannot be released without the organization’s classification.

“I feel a heavy weight of responsibility, and I deeply reflect on trying to import the film without adequate consideration of the content that glorifies South Korea’s wartime foe. The Korean War was a tragic conflict initiated when North Korean forces invaded South Korea and it claimed the lives of millions of people,” Wisdom Film said in a statement.

Culture Minister Hwang Hee confirmed the cancellation. “It cannot be released because the importer gave up its content rating,” he said during a legislative committee session held in Seoul, Wednesday.

“I understand that it is far from the public sentiment. It may baffle the MZ generation (consisting of people born between approximately 1981 and 2005) when considering their (anti-China) sentiment.”

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