Thailand Accuses Korean Reality Show of Disturbing Endangered Giant Clam for Scene

Thailand’s Film Board is accusing the production of South Korean reality show “Law of the Jungle” of filming a controversial clam scene that violates an agreement between the two countries.

 

According to an announcement posted by Thailand’s Film Board, authorities are planning to conduct a criminal investigation against the producers of “Law of the Jungle.”

They claim that the crew secretly filmed South Korean actress Yeol-eum Lee uprooting an endangered species of clam for the show.

“The film crew secretly entered the national park to shoot the episode without telling park authorities. Because of this, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has filed a report against SBS Broadcasting Center as well as The 6th Element production services company,” officials said in the statement via Coconuts Bangkok.

That statement also slams the apology that the show’s producers released last week claiming that they were not aware of the Thai law.

“Though the Film Board granted permission for the crew to film their show, they did not agree to them destroying Thailand’s natural resources and environs.”

Incidentally, Seoul Broadcasting System Producer Yongjae Cho signed an agreement in mid-March where it states that SBS agrees that “there will be no filming and presentation of content about hunting in Thailand” in their program, as can be seen in the agreement published by Film Board president Narisroj Fuangrabil that is now widely shared on social media.

In the statement, the “Law of the Jungle” crew was permitted to shoot their scenes at Trang Province’s Chao Mai Beach, Koh Waen, and Koh Muk, which can all be located inside the Hat Chao Mai National Park. They were only allowed to film on March 29 and April 1 to 3, however, the crew filmed the controversial scene on April 2 when there were strong winds in the area, thus they were prevented from shooting near Koh Muk.

It was at that point when the film crew told authorities they would pack up their equipment and head back to the hotel for the day, but instead, they secretly went behind their backs and proceeded to film the scene where the actress dove for the clams outside the agreed-upon area.

However, SBS Broadcasting and The 6th Element productions were not the only ones that got in trouble with the authorities. Lee may also face prison time for her involvement for pulling out the endangered clam, which is protected under Thai law.

Head of Hat Chao Mai National Park, Narong Kongaid, told AFP via Coconuts Bangkok last week that Lee is “subjected to five years imprisonment.”

The actress’ fans, however, stood behind her in defense and called out the producers and the crew of the show for mishandling the entire incident, and saying that they should be the one to be held accountable for what happened.

Some of them took to Blue House petition website to express their side and to defend Lee, according to AllKPop.

“We ask that actress Lee Yeol Eum be exempt from the maximum of 5-year imprisonment and that the producers of ‘Laws of the Jungle’ receive severe punishment…we believe that this issue has been caused by the PDs and the crew, not by Lee Yeol Eum who tried her best (on the show). If the coordinators in Thailand and the crew members had properly informed Lee Yeol Eum, none have this would have happened in the first place.”

Legal complaints cannot be withdrawn since this case is a criminal one, even with the show’s apology. That being said, it is now up to the court’s prosecutor if they should choose to pursue Lee or if they will just drop the case.

Under the 1961 National Parks act, those who violated the law can face up to five years of prison sentence or face a fine of 20,000 Thai baht ($650). However, Lee is also in violation of the 1992 Wild Animal Reservation and Protection act, where she could face a fine of 40,000 Thai baht ($1,305) or face four years of jail.

Images Screenshot via VIU / SBS

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