Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) announced on March 26 that they have reached a decision to cancel the broadcast of its Monday-Tuesday drama Joseon Exorcist, following the controversies surrounding its content. The drama, which premiered on March 22, was only able to air two of its 16 episodes.
The complaints began to surface after the airing of its first episode. Apart from the use of Chinese-style props, such as food and costumes, which was flagged as distortion of history, the depiction of characters that reportedly ridiculed real figures of history also drew flak. After the premiere, a petition to stop its broadcast was filed on the Blue House National Petition. As of writing, the petition has over 200,000 signatures. The issue immediately spread to the production support, with the drama losing sponsors and advertisers, one after another. Eventually, Joseon Exorcist, according to Korea Economic Daily or Hankyung, became “the first advertisement-free drama that was broadcast.”
The production and SBS released a statement right after its first broadcast. However, the backlash grew after the second episode. While the team apologized and announced that they will be taking a week-long break to make the necessary changes to the drama, the outrage continued, possibly strongly prompting the crew to take a drastic measure. The official statement from SBS reads as follows.
“Recognizing the seriousness of the incident, we decided to cancel the contract to purchase the broadcasting rights of Joseon Exorcist and cancel the broadcast. SBS has already paid [for] most of the broadcasting rights of this drama, and the production company has finished filming 80 percent. Although there are concerns about economic losses and lack of programming, SBS has decided to cancel the show, feeling a heavy sense of responsibility as a terrestrial broadcaster.”
The production company behind the drama also responded in an official press release that says, “First of all, [we would like to] apologize to the viewers. There are some inquiries about production-related matters after the cancellation of the program, and we will answer you. Production has been discontinued. We fully sympathize with the seriousness of the situation, and we will do our best to minimize damage to all the staff and people involved in the [production]. Overseas copyright [contracts] related to Joseon Exorcist are in the process of termination, and [arrangements with] all overseas streaming [platforms] that were in service have already been terminated or are scheduled to be released during the day. Once again, we sincerely apologize for hurting the viewers.”
Joseon Exorcist is a supernatural-historical drama that follows the story of King Taejong (Kam Woo-sung, The Wind Blows) and his sons Prince Chungnyung (Jang Dong-yoon, Search) and Prince Yangnyeong (Park Sung-hoon, Memorials) as they fight against the undead who are attacking the kingdom and its people. While it was rumored that the sports-themed drama Racket Boys will fill the vacant airing slot, SBS clarified, “What will air after Joseon Exorcist has not been decided yet. Discussion is underway.”