A South Korean television station has apologized to the people of Vietnam for a soap opera joke that many found disrespectful to Vietnamese women.
The second episode of “Modern Farmer” outraged viewers after it aired on October 19, 2014 on the SBS Network.
The episode featured a story about a mother trying to convince her son to give up drinking in order to woo a wife.
After complaining about her son's daily drinking, the mother character says. “Even if you go to Vietnam, you won't be able to find a bride,” according to the Vietnamese-language subtitle.
The English subtitle said: “You always drink every day, so you couldn’t bring a girl back from Vietnam.” The show is also aired with Chinese and Japanese subtitles.
åçHong Hyeon Joon of the Korean embassy in Hanoi told Tuoi Tre newspaper on Friday that SBS has issued an apology to all Vietnamese people through the embassy.
Hong said he discussed the matter with SBS executives on Thursday and they issued their apology that night.
“Our production team is sincerely sorry to Vietnamese people, that the issue has hurt you,” the network said in a statement.
The mother in the scene was reminding her son of his failure to marry a woman in Vietnam in the past, it said.
“The scene was meant to depict a farmer who cannot find a wife, and was not in any way meant to disrespect Vietnamese women,” the team said.
They promised to be more careful in the future.
Modern Farmer is about a rock band that decides to leave Seoul and move to a small town in the countryside to farm a plot of that one of the musicians inherits from his grandmother.
On Tuesday, Tuoi Tre published a complaint by reader Tran Kim Anh.
Anh said she learned about the scene from a Vietnamese student studying Korean.
She expressed shame that all Vietnamese women were clearly being considered cheap.
Anh said she was especially sad for the large number of Vietnamese women who marry Koreans hoping for a better life.
“Now that the scene has been broadcast widely on Korean national television, [their marriages] are no longer their personal matter; it has become a matter of national honor,” she wrote to Tuoi Tre.
Vietnamese women made up 34 percent of international brides in South Korea in 2011, significantly more than brides from other Southeast Asian countries, according to a report by the Southeast Globe Magazine.
Many poor, rural Vietnamese women enter the marriages hoping for fairy tale lives.
Instead, most suffer from stark language and cultural differences.
Many of the Korean husbands seek Vietnamese wives because they're too old or poor to find wives at home.
Prominent stories about suicide, murder and abuse have cast a pall over the relationships.
The latest victim, Nguyen Thi Thanh Ngan, 22, from Ho Chi Minh City, died on November 30.
Her killer Kim Hee Cheol, 41, reportedly turned himself in and confessed to her murder.
Ngan had married another Korean, Kim Hyun Jun, who brought her to Korea in June 2012.
According to media reports, her first husband divorced her after learning she was unable to bear him a child.