South Korean audiences will reportedly receive an edited version of the Demon Slayer anime featuring a change to Tanjiro’s hanafuda earrings following complaints from local audiences regarding their design resembling the ‘Rising Sun’ flag of Imperial Japan.
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As reported by Japanese news outlet Daily Shincho and machine translated by Google Translate, the recent backlash towards Tanjiro’s earrings began prior to the South Korean release of Demon Slayer: Demon Train, as “Korean anti-Japanese” groups believed that the anime’s use of the Rising Sun evoked “war criminal flag” imagery.
One South Korean citizen group, VANK, even went so far as to request that Netflix not only offer an explanation for the design’s appearance in Demon Slayer, but also provide a detailed disclaimer expounding on the history of Japan’s historical actions within the country.
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The strong anti-Japanese sentiments held by many South Koreans stem from the country’s (then unified with its northern neighbor as one singular Korea) time as an occupied territory of Japan, particularly during World War II.
During the global conflict, Japanese forces inflicted numerous atrocities upon Korean citizens, which included medical experimentation at Japan’s infamous Unit 731 and hundreds of thousands of people forcibly conscripted into service as either laborers (men) or unwilling ‘comfort women.’
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As a result of these actions, many Korean citizens, from both the now-divided North and South territories, have continued to hold a historically-based grudge against their eastern neighbor well past the latter’s World War II defeat by the United States in 1945.
Despite the sordid history of the Rising Sun’s use as the flag of Imperial Japan, the design was first introduced into Japanese culture in 1870 and has, since the war, retained cultural relevance as a symbol of national pride.
In fact, the design is still used in the naval ensign of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, while a gold-bordered variation has since been adopted by the modern-day Japan Self-Defense Forces and Ground Self-Defense Forces.
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Noting that the streaming giant has been “caught up in the turmoil” surrounding the earrings’ design since March, Daily Shincho further explained that, presumably as a result of the uproar, “Netflix will change the upload of the series to one featuring a modified image of Tanjiro’s earrings.”
This “modified” version of Demon Slayer will ostensibly be the same one provided to China, as the version seen by Chinese audiences was similarly changed for nearly the exact same reasons.
In this version, Tanjiro’s earrings feature the rising red sun graphic above four vertical lines and a mountain, rather than the traditional Rising Sun.
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However, it seems that most South Koreans do not share such anti-Japanese belief, as the recently released Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train has thus far grossed over $9 Million USD following its January 27th release,
This box office gross is an undoubtedly impressive feat amidst the numerous restrictions placed on theaters worldwide due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which ultimately, could not have been achieved without an outpouring of fan support.
YouTuber Hero Hei also comments:
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