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The Republic of Korea 🇰🇷, commonly referred to as South Korea, is an Asian country. It has the highest proportion of Christians of any East Asian country.

Laws provide free speech to limit censorship. In the past, censorship was pervasive, particularly during the dictatorships of Park Chung-hee (1965-1979) and Chun Doo-hwan (1980-1988).

General censorship[]

While homosexuality in general is not outlawed in South Korea, it is illegal for male homosexuals to serve in the military.

Anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea remains pervasive to this day.

Book censorship[]

  • Until the late 1980s, literary works written by writers who ended up in North Korea when Korea was partitioned were banned.
  • Books written in North Korea are usually banned. Libraries will have a special section for North Korean books, which is exclusively open to researchers.
  • Since 1 August 2008, 23 books were banned from being distributed to South Korean military.
    • Year 501: The Conquest Continues - this politics work by Noam Chomsky is banned from distribution in South Korean military.
    • Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism - this non-fiction work by economist Ha-joon Chang was banned for distribution within the South Korean military.
    • One Spoon on This Earth - this novel by Hyun Ki-young was banned for distribution within South Korean military for being "pro-North Korea".

Internet censorship[]

Warning displayed when attempting to access blocked websites.

  • Sites sympathetic to North Korea are blocked in South Korea.
  • Since 2008, they started to block other sites such as unrated games, pornography, casino gambling, selling illegal items, etc. If you try to access these sites with a South Korean ISP, it automatically redirects to a page in http://www.warning.or.kr/.
  • As pornography is illegal in South Korea, most Imageboorus are considered hentai and, therefore, are banned.

Movie censorship[]

  • Last Tango in Paris was banned during its initial release due to its strong sexual content.
  • Obaltan was banned because it was misinterpreted by South Korea's government as pro-North due to the PTSD-suffering grandmother constantly screaming, "LET'S GET OUT OF HERE!!" as she experiences traumatizing flashbacks of the war. She never technically said where they should go, didn't even mention possible defection to North Korea, but still the movie got banned. At the time of its release, South Korea was not a thriving First World nation.
  • Ban Geum-ryeong (The Story of Pan Jinlian) was banned for six years (1975-1981), was released in South Korea in 1982 with 40 minutes cut.
  • Apocalypse Now! was banned in 1979 under President Park Chung-Hee due to its anti-war theme.
  • Braindead was banned for gory violence
  • Falling Down was banned due to its negative portrayal of Koreans (and to add insult to injury, its premiere in the United States was one year after the 1992 Los Angeles riots, where Koreans were targeted). In 1997, it was passed uncut with an 18 rating.
  • The Interview was banned from South Korean media markets as deemed to glamorize the death of Kim Jong-un. Despite their intensive military buildups for that very reason, the South Korean government would much rather avoid a war with North Korea, and found the movie to be in bad taste.
  • The Battle at Lake Changjin - this Chinese film about the Korean War was banned in South Korea for distorting the South Korean history. Said film was dismissed as "propaganda filled with historical inaccuracies" in South Korea.
  • The Battle at Lake Changjin II - the sequel to the above mentioned film was banned for disseminating historical inaccuracies on South Korean history.

Television censorship[]

  • Depictions of weapons such as knives are always censored on broadcasts. While large swords in ancient dramas aren’t blurred, small knives that are intended to be used as weapons in certain scenes are blurred out. The Korea Communications Standards Commission has issued a censor for anything that might cause excessive shock, anxiety or disgust to viewers.
  • Since the mid-1990s, any scene of a character smoking tobacco has the item (a cigarette, a pipe or a cigar) blurred out, as they aren’t seen as “family friendly” enough to show on broadcast in South Korea. The ban on tobacco originally applied to Korean dramas, but it later expanded on TV.
  • TV stations will often times either pixelate tattooed areas of celebrities or ask them to wear tape to cover up their tattoos, for instance when hip-hop artist Jay Park apparitions (he had either to cover them up or had the stations pixel them). Any tattoos seen on characters seen on TV shows are usually blurred out.
  • Hetalia:Axis Powers was banned due to the character Korea, deemed unflattering to Koreans (said character, however did not appear in the anime).
  • Any show having Japanese elements is immediately not allowed for airing in the country due to strained Japan-Korea relations. In fact, Power Rangers Ninja Storm (an American-made show) and Samurai Sentai Shinkenger never got aired in dubbed form at all — the latter only got any air time when the dubs of Kamen Rider Decade and Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger showed them. It was later found out that for the former, it's because Power Rangers licensing is now expensive for the US franchise to keep airing in the country, switching to Super Sentai dubs (Albeit keeping the Power Rangers name). The only Sentai show skipped in the country so far, despite it being not Japanese enough to warrant a ban, is Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger, but for a different reason.
  • The first two episodes of Eto Rangers were not aired due to having a parody of Momotaro, a Japanese folk tale, leaving a considerable plot gap.
  • Pokémon: Some episodes were banned from airing in South Korea, causing some continuity errors in the anime's run. Generally the banned episodes contained overt references to Japanese culture; however, the last banned episodes occurred during Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire. Furthermore, episodes EP260 to EP274 were simply never aired, for unknown reasons.
    • "Challenge of the Samurai" was banned due to the episode featuring a samurai, creating a continuity error, as this episode features the evolution of Ash's Metapod.
    • "The Ghost of Maiden's Peak" has been banned due to the episode featuring several Japanese cultural events.
    • "Pokémon Scent-sation!" was banned likely due to Erika's traditional Japanese clothing worn in the perfume shop, creating another continuity error, as Ash obtains the Rainbow Badge in this episode.
    • "The Ninja Poké-Showdown" was banned due to featuring several depictions of Japanese culture, namely ninja and kabuki, resulting into another continuity error, as during this episode, Ash wins the Soul Badge.
    • "Riddle Me This" was likely banned due to depiction of traditional Japanese clothing and architecture, spawning another continuity error, as the very next episode continues from where this one left off.
    • "Bad to the Bone" was likely banned due to Otoshi's samurai-like attire.
    • "The Fourth Round Rumble" was likely banned due to Jeanette Fisher's traditional Japanese outfit. Said ban induced a continuity error, as in this episode Ash wins his fourth Pokémon League match.
    • "A Bout With Sprout" was banned due to the Sprout Tower resembling traditional Japanese architecture.
    • "Fighting Flyer with Fire" was banned due to the traditional Japanese style of Falkner's attire. This creates a continuity error, as Ash wins the Zephyr Badge in this episode.
    • "Wired for Battle!" and "Ariados, Amigos" were likely banned due to their overt focus on Japanese culture.
    • "A Ghost of a Chance" and "From Ghost to Ghost" were banned likely due to Ecutreak City resembling the real-world Kyoto (with women wearing kimono), the ban of the latter episode caused a continuity error, as Ash wins the Fog Badge in said episode.
    • "Trouble's Brewing" and "Espeon, Not Included"" werelikely banned due to the prominence of the Kimono Sisters, whose outfits are based on the Japanese culture.
    • "Ring Masters" was banned likely due to having Pokémon sumo wrestle (which is a Japanese style of fighting). This created a continuity error in which Ash wins the King's Rock, which would later picked up by Misty's Poliwhril to evolve into a Politoed in "Outrageous Fortunes".
    • "Doin' What Comes Natu-rally" was banned due to the fortune-telling show resembling a Shinto tradition
    • "Poetry Commotion!" and "Going, Going, Yawn! never aired in Korea,a lthough this may have been an oversight, as they were released on DVD. On the other hand, they do not appear on the official 포켓몬스터 AG (Pokémon AG) episode page. This also creates a plot hole, since in the latter episode, Ash wins the Heat Badge.
  • Sailor Moon: Over 40 episodes were banned from broadcast, while all scenes involving the Hikawa Shrine (the shrine that Rei lives in with her grandfather) were excised, along with any scenes depicting Rei in her miko robes or that involved kanji. These changes were in part due to the unpleasant history between Japan and Korea.
  • *M*A*S*H* was banned as it depicted South Koreans as living in poverty, even though during the show's setting, the Korean War, South Korea had a gross domestic product lower than Ghana's.
  • South Park had started to air on Tooniverse in March of 2000, but it barely got into its first season before the Republic of Korea Broadcasting Committee ordered it banned, due to numerous complaints about its content. However, the ban was lifted in 2019, when the show became available on Netflix.
  • The Simpsons episode "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" was banned due to containing a huge amount of Japanese elements; however, surprisingly, the ban was lifted before 2007, unlike Japan's own ban on this episode.

Video game censorship[]

Since 2006, South Korea has only banned video games on rare occasions. Even before this, games were very rarely banned unless that game mentioned elements of the Korean War in order to avoid tensions between the countries North Korea and South Korea. However, Manhunt, Manhunt 2, and Mortal Kombat are still banned because of violence and cruelty. Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction were previously banned, but the bans were later lifted.

The Game Rating Board requires that all video games be rated by the organization. Unrated titles are absolutely banned from being sold in the country, and websites selling them can be blocked.

  • Mortal Kombat (2011) was banned in South Korea for extreme violence, including graphic violence in various Fatalities.
  • Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2, and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory were banned in South Korea all for depicting a war between North and South Korea. Later, the ban on the Ghost Recon series had been lifted to promote freedom of speech.
  • Homefront was banned as it depicts a unified Korea under rule of the DPRK.

Until the 2000s, import video games from Japan had to have all Japanese voice acting and Japanese song vocals removed, as well as depictions of samurai. As a result, Mitsurugi from the SoulCalibur series had to be replaced by Arthur.

  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony was banned most likely due to featuring murders by high schoolers after a case of a 17-year old girl killing and dismembering an 8-year old girl in that country. Because the criminal was revealed to have been a regular participant of roleplaying communities (and Danganronpa was pretty big in the South Korean roleplaying scene), she was thought to have copied the game. In truth, she had never participated in roleplaying Danganronpa specifically, but a spokesperson of the South Korean ratings board committee has stated that V3 will remain banned because "[They have] determined that the game had crossed the line where it was difficult to allow this in society".

Other censorship[]

For many years, South Korea had a ban on most cultural products from Japan. This began to be lifted in the late 1990s, although enforcement had been relatively lax since about ten years prior. Due to the fact that anime was popular in South Korea but couldn't legally be distributed, a number of enterprising South Korean animation houses created a large number of pretty much rip-off versions of Japanese anime (reusing the animation cells from their outsorced animation). Among these was the infamous Space Gundam V which despite its name, it actually was a rip-off of Super Dimension Fortress Macross.

Relations between Japan and South Korea remain strained to this day, with many Koreans continuing to call for boycotts of Japanese-made products.

External links[]

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