You know what they say — there’s no such thing as bad publicity. For Korean drama Backstreet Rookie, however, making headlines for all the wrong reasons since its pilot episode aired on June 19 could lead to very serious consequences. The 16-episode series has been reported over 6,000 times to the Korea Communications Standards Commission after viewers found it too sexual for TV.
Backstreet Rookie, which airs on Fridays and Saturdays in Korea, stars Ji Chang Wook, 32, and Kim Yoo Jung, 20. When the pairing was first announced, netizens frowned upon the 12-year age gap between the two, and wondered how their reel-life romance would be like.
As it turns out, their concern wasn’t completely unwarranted as the series has been slammed for sexualising high-school girls, inappropriate camera angles, cultural appropriation and plagiarism.
When the two lead characters first meet, she was still a schoolgirl (she was wearing her school uniform) and he was already an adult. She then initiated a kiss after falling in love with him at first sight. Netizens argued that this could lead young people to have the misconception that doing something like that is okay. There were also concerns that the drama could encourage relationships between adults and minors.
In addition, this scene that saw Yoo Jung’s character’s younger sister and her friends at a karaoke session was also slammed for its overtly suggestive dance moves.
This scene was also criticised for encouraging voyeurism as the camera lingered on Yoo Jung’s legs, which were on display as she was wearing a short skirt.
Netizens have also accused the show of being culturally insensitive as one character sports dreadlocks.
Since the show's debut, netizens have been leaving harsh comments on community portals. Wrote one netizen: “How is this [drama] family-friendly? Are they crazy?” Another ranted, “There are adult channels for stuff like this. Why would you air an M18 webtoon-based drama on a free-to-air channel? Who thought that this was a good idea?”
The producers of Backstreet Rookie have yet to respond to the controversy at press time.