After “Doctor Cha”, “Bora! Deborah” crossed the line with Yoo In Na’s lines
The ongoing K-drama “Bora! Deborah” is facing controversy over a dialogue about Auschwitz concentration camp
Previously, the popular K-drama “Doctor Cha” was criticized for disparaging Crohn’s disease, bringing attention to ignorance and carelessness on the TV screen.
Now, ENA Thursday-Friday drama “Bora! Deborah” committed the same mistake, and took it even further by comparing a historical tragedy to the importance of appearance. It is regrettable that the controversy only ended with a brief apology of “We failed to pay meticulous attention” and the deletion of the controversial footage.
In particular, “Bora! Deborah” recently became controversial for using a story from Auschwitz concentration camp as a metaphor for grooming appearance. The dialogue in question was mentioned in episode 9, when Deborah (played by Yoo In Na) was discussing the importance of appearance care with Lee Soo Hyuk (played by Yoon Hyun Min).
Here, Deborah said, “There’s a story from Auschwitz concentration camp. Seeing people dying while lying on their own feces, someone drank half a cup of water they received and washed their face with the rest. They even shaved while looking at their face reflected in a piece of glass on the back of a food tray. And they survived. Taking care of your appearance is a matter of survival.”
In response, Lee Soo Hyuk said, “It seems you’re getting a little interested in reading. This is from Viktor Frankl’s ‘From Death-Camp to Existentialism’ (now ‘Man’s Search for Meaning), right?”
Hearing this, Deborah replied, “I read it in a magazine.”
Following the broadcast, there was a torrent of criticism, mainly from international netizens. Auschwitz concentration camp was a place where Germany’s Nazi massacres took place during World War II. Therefore, it was inappropriate to associate the efforts of Jews in the camp to maintain their dignity and survive with grooming and embellishing appearances.
An international viewer said, “I never thought I’d hear such a comparison in my life,” and expressed outrage by adding, “I can’t believe the writer thought of this, and everyone involved approved of it. It’s a horror of ignorance.”
On top of this, the reason the detainees in Auschwitz concentration camp washed their faces and shaved wasn’t about grooming. It was because they had to appear healthy enough to work to survive. Against the brutal reality where sick people were sent to gas chambers, it was the least effort they could make.
Korean netizens strongly criticize such gossip-like remarks that trivialize such tragedies. Even the actors who failed to recognize the problem when reading the script are being criticized.
The production team of “Bora! Deborah” eventually acknowledged their lack of caution in the dialogue. They stated, “We should have mentioned it from an accurate perspective of historical facts, but we failed to carefully consider it.”
They issued an apology, saying, “We never intended to trivialize historical tragedies. We sincerely apologize and promise to be more cautious in the future.” The scenes containing the mentioned dialogue were also completely removed from the drama.
Similarly, “Doctor Cha” recently came under fire for referring to Crohn’s disease as a “terrible disease”. In one episode featuring a Crohn’s disease patient visiting the hospital, the patient’s father-in-law and mother-in-law criticized, saying, “How can you hide such a terrible disease and get married? They say this disease can be inherited through genetics.” The scene also included the patient attempting to commit suicide.
As a result, viewers criticized “Doctor Cha”, saying, “Crohn’s disease is not inherited genetically” and “This drama triggers pain in young patients.”
Plenty of complaints were filed with the Korea Communications Standards Commission. Considering “Doctor Cha” breakthrough 18% viewership rating and its huge popularity, there is a lingering feeling of disappointment regarding the distorted perceptions portrayed in the drama if they had been approached with caution.
The production team humbly acknowledged, “We never had any intention of lightly portraying the pain of patients undergoing treatment. We failed to pay meticulous attention to the fact that a dialogue that singles out patients could foster negative perceptions about specific diseases.”
Of course, the intention was not to write the script in a lighthearted manner from the beginning. However, the outcome caused harm to others and provoked anger.
The writer’s shallow display of knowledge and the director’s careless production practices are to blame. It is even more disappointing that the actors themselves were unaware of the issues at hand.