“Doctor Cha” in Hot Water Over Controversial Depiction of Crohn’s Disease: Broadcast Communications Commission Receives 43 Complaints
Ongoing drama “Doctor Cha” is facing complaints from the Broadcast Communications Standards Commission.
The controversy arose due to the depiction of Crohn’s disease in the drama as the ‘wicked disease,’ which can give a distorted perception.
A Broadcast Communications Standards Commission official stated in a call with the media on May 9th, “43 complaints have been received regarding seven episodes of Doctor Cha. We are currently reviewing the related content.“
The scene in question is about a Crohn’s disease patient who becomes pessimistic about life and writes a farewell letter before climbing up to the roof. This scene was broadcast on May 6th.
The depiction of Crohn’s disease in “Doctor Cha” can also be misconstrued as a disease that makes it difficult to lead a normal social life. However, the content is also controversial for openly using profanity, with the father-in-law coming to visit his son-in-law, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, and saying, “How could you hide this terrible disease and get married? If it’s hereditary, then you should give up on marriage.“
Crohn’s disease is a rare disease that causes ulcers to form throughout the body due to a weakened immune system in the intestine, making it difficult to fight off harmful substances such as bacteria and food from outside. Although it is a chronic disease that requires management of the intestinal tract, if treated early, the symptoms can be improved, and complications can be prevented. Although treatment is not easy, and the recurrence rate is not low, experts say that sufficient control is possible through various treatments.
Since this is not a documentary, stories about the patients in the drama may have been exaggerated to some extent to create dramatic developments, but the line mentioning “wicked disease” is said to be excessive. In particular, there is a high possibility that many viewers were watching the drama without knowing any information about the disease in advance. Therefore, Crohn’s disease patients are posting their complaints to the Korea Communications Standards Commission.
Netizen A said, “I’m writing this after watching the recent broadcast of ‘Doctor Cha’ because I’m worried that people’s perception towards Crohn’s disease patients will worsen. In the drama, Crohn’s disease was portrayed as a terrible disease that is hereditary as if it was a fact. In addition, it even suggested that patients with Crohn’s disease cannot lead a normal social and family life and may even attempt suicide due to depression”, adding “These exaggerated portrayals were shown as facts in the drama. That’s why I’m going to file a complaint with the Korea Communications Standards Commission to correct them.”
As comments agreeing to file complaints continue to increase, there are also voices calling for the controversial part of the content to be deleted from the drama’s rerun and other sources.
Meanwhile, “Doctor Cha” tells about the struggles of Cha Jung Sook, a housewife who starts her new life as a first-year resident in her late 40s. Receiving huge love from drama fans, its recent episode recorded a nationwide rating of 16.2% and 16.9% in the Seoul area.
Since it is currently a popular drama that tops the rating chart, a lot of people are criticizing the production team, saying that they should have been more careful. While the main character Cha Jung Sook is portrayed as someone who takes care of her patients’ feelings and concerns, the whole drama “Doctor Cha” failed to do the same for their audiences. A viewer pointed out, “Even though it’s a fictional story, most viewers accept it as reality and become immersed in the story. It’s questionable whether it was necessary to present a setting that could hurt people who are fighting diseases. They could have created fictional illness instead”.