A line about Thai culture in the K-drama “Big Mouth” is stirring up controversy.
The second episode of the drama, which aired on July 30, depicts a scene between the series’ main character, Park Chang-ho (played by Lee Jong-suk), and a fellow inmate on death row. Park asks the inmate if his mother ate seaweed soup after giving birth to him, which is a South Korean custom for new mothers.
Park continues to antagonize the inmate by asking him what his mother ate after his birth that would lead to him growing up to be a psychopath.
“Did your mother eat seaweed soup after giving birth to you?” Park asks. “I am really curious as to what she ate to have given birth to a psycho like you. Did she eat tom yum kung? Or seonji soup?”
Tom yum kung is a hot and sour soup from Thailand. Meanwhile, seonji soup is also known as haejang-guk, or hangover soup. The Korean soup usually has oxblood for a more concentrated flavor.
After the episode aired, Thai netizens were swift to criticize the scene. One Twitter user posted a screenshot of the scene’s subtitles and asked: “I’m not sure, but was the K-drama Big Mouth intending to be racist to Thailand? I’m not sure if it was translated correctly. But to ask, ‘After giving birth to a psychopath like you, did your mother eat Tom Yum Kung?’ Can someone who is fluent in Korean please analyze it?”
“Really confused. How to say it? Because Thai people are one of the countries that support idols too, so they speak (racist) as far as I can see,” another user wrote. “Think of the condition if there is no Thai people as a force to support the idols of his country. I don’t want to imagine the situation at all.”
“If you do this to other nations, you will definitely be killed by racist,” another said. “Thai people don’t want to have a story until he can’t see us at all This is disrespectful. Regardless of race, rich or poor, they should respect each other. How much money did Korea get from Thailand? but treats like Thais as a third-class citizen all the time.”
The two platforms airing “Big Mouth,” Disney Plus and MBC, have yet to issue statements regarding the backlash.
“Big Mouth” centers around the character Park Chang-Ho, a mediocre lawyer who is known for speaking without thinking. He gets mistaken for a genius swindler named “Big Mouse” and gets wrapped up in a murder case. Girls’ Generation’s YoonA plays Go Mi-ho, Park’s wife and a nurse.