Why Big Hero 6 Is Upsetting Some People In South Korea

Why Big Hero 6 Is Upsetting Some People in South Korea

You'd think Disney's Big Hero 6 would steer clear of controversy. That it would be a fairly innocuous movie. You'd think!

Money Today reports that the movie, which isn't out yet, is already creating some controversy online in South Korea, because net users are upset that the movie features alleged Rising Sun imagery.

The sun is important to the Japanese — religiously and culturally. The first sunrise of the year is seen as an important event. While Rising Sun imagery has been used in Japan for centuries, it was carried by the Japanese military during World War II. It is still flown by the Japanese navy — something the US government made official after the war. The flag, however, is seen as offensive in South Korea because of what happened due to Japanese military aggression.

According to Money Today, here are the rising sun images in Big Hero 6 that are causing ire for some South Korean net users. These were spotted in the movie's trailer:

Why Big Hero 6 Is Upsetting Some People in South Korea
Why Big Hero 6 Is Upsetting Some People in South Korea

Disney said, "There are no Rising Sun flags on display in the movie, nor was it the intention to suggest the Rising Sun flag." (The original comic, however, was more explicit in its Rising Sun imagery.)

Then again, this is the movie's concept art (via Hitgall):

Why Big Hero 6 Is Upsetting Some People in South Korea

Keep in mind that people from all walks of life worked on the movie, including, yes, those with Korean heritage, such Shi Yoon Kim and Jin Kim.

With some people online already upset before the movie comes out, you can maybe see why Disney even repackaged parts of the film for Korean audiences, diluting much of the Japanese-ness. Or maybe you can't.

In the Korean version, "Hiro", a Japanese boy's name, is "Hero". What's more, his last name is no longer the Japanese surname "Hamada" but "Armada". His brother, "Tadashi", is called "Teddy", because "Tadashi" is a Japanese name — even if, as noted by tipster Sang, the character's original English-language voice actor is a half-Korean actor. Basically, explicit indications that the characters were of Japanese heritage were nixed for Korean audiences.

The Korean version also seems to have removed Japanese words that were in the original US version. Below, you can see a comparison via Extreme Movie:

Why Big Hero 6 Is Upsetting Some People in South Korea

However, not everything Japanese appears to have been nixed. Take the Gate Bridge, which is designed to look like torii, the gates you find at the entrance of Shinto shrines. Shintoism is Japan's indigenous religion — and closely associated with sun imagery.

Disney also re-titled the movie Big Hero, apparently so South Korean parents won't think it's a sequel. So, Big Hero opens in the country on January 21.


Comments

    My God they're really stretching it with the outrage.

    A sunrise happens every day, is everyone outside yelling at the sky?!

    Do they have to cook their eggs over-easy?

    No sunflowers?

    Last edited 20/01/15 12:50 pm

      None of that applies....
      It's clearly the use of the rising sun imagery relating to a symbol that people associate with a part of history.

      And it is people on the internet, outrage is pretty much an expecatation.

        It applies to the second image in the article, which is literally just a sunrise/set occuring

          But it is inescapably fashioned on the rising sun symbol, it's not just a sun.

          Don't get me wrong, for me given the setting and cultural link to Japan, it's an obvious go to. You have the sun, of course you will add the beams.

          But sadly the image will always invoke bad memories in certain areas of Asia.

            Yeah fair enough eh, after looking at the picture again I can see the subtle stylization they've got going with the banding so it does look more like the rising sun symbol.

            not really, though I am Australian now, my origin country was colonized by japan for a number of years. Brutally too, yet if you look around today, Japanese stuff is really popular, from sweets and other foods, musicians, movies etc. Some people just don't know how to let go of a grudge.

      God Damn You Sky! Stop Raising The Sun!

        The sky should be forced to go on paid leave until it receives sensitivity training!!

    How many people on either side (complaining and producing the movie) were alive during that time?

    Last edited 20/01/15 12:51 pm

    Clearly Big Hero 6 took place in a future / alternate reality where Japan had invaded the USA and done so successfully. It takes place in "San Fransokyo", a half American, half Japanese city. However, "San Fransokyo" IS San Francisco, as evidenced by geography and landmarks, e.g. the Golden Gate Bridge. What other conclusion can you draw, than that Japan invaded it and won?!

      You know I'm kinda sick of this bullshit! Why? Because it's like trying to censor the Nazi Symbol for a movie that's based around Nazis. To add on to what Andy said, it makes sense to have some of this stuff considering what's happened IN A MOVIE WITH JAPANESE/AMERICA CULTURE! I bet if South Korea made a movie without Japanese war stuff, they would put in their own war stuff right?

      Finally there's WAY more things to be worth butthurting over than this...

        You know thats exactly what they do in Germany.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hK4Px4O8aE

        Its a sensitive topic on a national level and your "get over it" attitude shows you should probably finish school first....

        Because it's like trying to censor the Nazi Symbol for a movie that's based around Nazis.

        Actually, it's not 'like' that at all but thanks for trying.

        This recent trend I've notice around Kotaku in which people disregard and belittle others' concerns is gross. It's a sensitive topic, and what counts as 'sensitive' is not dictated by you. Don't use childish internet lingo like 'butthurt' in a discussion of actual war crimes, it's insulting.

          OK sorry about that. What I'm trying to say is why censor something like this when that has nothing to do with movie or am I missing something here? It's not like you would notice in the movie unless someone points it out as such as what there'd doing here or is there a job for people where there'd meant to look out for stuff like this? That 2nd image being the weirdest one of all.

            Because while it might not be plot-relevant to the movie, this sort of imagery can still be a touchy issue. It's not just a Japanese flag, it's a rising sun flag that still has negative connotations to many. In this case, I personally wouldn't notice it but if someone else does, who am I to say what they should or shouldn't be offended by? I didn't live through it, but for those people and their family, it can be very distressing to be reminded of such things.

      Man, I love alternate world war victories. It's the reason I bought Wolfenstein: The New Order.

      I can't wait to play a game where I'm a non-American fighting against America, just for the sake of being different.

      San Fransokyo is the result of San Francisco being destroyed in the 1906 Earthquake and being rebuilt by mostly Japanese immigrants.

      I enjoyed the movie and thought the city looked spectacular.

    So pretty much, this and many, MANY other issues can be summed up with:
    Someone somewhere is upset about something.

    Last edited 20/01/15 2:09 pm

    What happened to Big Hero 1,2,3,4, and 5?
    Was I sleeping under a rock?

      Where was Fantastic 1,2 and 3?

      They call it Big Hero 6 because there are six of them.

      Much like Fantastic Four as @gehirn mentions above me.

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh so they're outraged because they're xenophobic twats...

    Screw 'em...

    So basically South Korea won't be happy until everyone agrees to pretend that Japan doesn't exist, unless cast in a negative light? And Disney thinks it's appropriate to pander to that kind of bullshit? Pretending another culture doesn't exist or have any kind of influence is not cultural sensitivity, it's just racism/being a complete prick. The sensible thing to do is IGNORE the kinds of assholes who complain about the appearance of another nation's flags and national iconography.

      Woah now, let's not imply that the whole country is offended by this. As with anything, I'm sure this is a vocal minority influencing the decisions rather than the whole of South Korea crying out in unison over something so petty.

        True. I should've edited to be more specific about the hyper-reactionary demographic.

        Last edited 20/01/15 4:30 pm

      The sensible thing to do is IGNORE the kinds of assholes who complain about the appearance of another nation's flags and national iconography.

      That brush you're using couldn't be more broad. The rising sun is not 'just' a nation's flag and carries plenty of baggage in a way the current Japanese flag does not, because it was never actually a state flag (even during WWII), it was specifically used by the IJA and IJN who went on to commit unspeakable crimes in Asia. It's not as overtly taboo as the Swastika, but it's still very much associated with war and imperialism in the same way the lightning bolt or totenkopf is in Germany, or the Confederate flag is in the US. In fact, the rising sun is still somewhat controversial even in Japan as a symbol of far-right, nationalist groups.

      It's one thing to to tell people to chill out, but to disregard them by calling them assholes and pricks is incredibly conceited. Even if it is a vocal minority, they have every right to be offended by this imagery. In this case, I think they're stretching because I'll call a spade a spade, and an animated rising sun an animated rising sun. But in another case, if someone is offended, who am I to tell them how they should be feeling? Who are you to call them assholes?

        Damn straight it's not just a nation's flag. You want to talk about baggage? It was only an official military flag from the late 1800s onward, but centuries prior to that it was used prolifically and continuously as a symbol of good fortune, traditionalism, and nationalism. It's practically representative of the Edo period, which was a proud time in Japanese history. Unlike the very clear-cut example of the Swastika which was adopted exclusively by the Nazi party in close proximity to the war, who were squarely to blame for much of the horrors perpetrated by Germany in the war. And banning the Swastika in Germany isn't anywhere near as big a deal because there's not centuries of associated German tradition with the appropriated Hindu symbol.
        Expecting the same abandonment of the Rising Sun for the Japanese people is extremely unreasonable. It's a cultural icon. I think you'll find that much of the controversy with it being used by far-right nationalist groups is the resentment that they're appropriating a symbol that belongs to the nation.

        These anti-Japanese agitators ARE assholes and pricks because they're overreacting to and overplaying a weak-ass hand to try and get their way in a much larger issue which is racism that was in play long before the war and continues today. It's a smokescreen for a bullshit agenda, and people are actually buying their bullshit, which should be called out and criticized at every relevant opportunity.

        And finally, no, not all sense of offense is equal or exempt from censure. For example, if your parents are offended by your hypothetical interracial marriage and object to it, then yeah, you probably should tell them how they should be feeling and point out that yes, they are in fact assholes for being offended. Or pretending to be, to score some concessions.

        You want to talk conceit? It is the height of fucking conceit for some assholes to demand that the unwritten condition of the Japanese surrender was the abandonment of their long-standing iconography and history.
        "Nope. You don't get to have a place in the world or be referred to anymore or be proud of anything you were or did prior to the war, or after." Remember, it's not just the flag under assault, here, either. Names, instances of kanji/hirigana, and any other Japanese-specific influence is being edited out. It's the most unreasonable bullshit I've ever seen people take seriously.

        Last edited 20/01/15 9:13 pm

          Again, I'm not calling for these images to be censored. In this case, I don't even see it in the movie. I'm saying that calling people out as assholes and pricks while belittling their actual (and understandable) reservations about something is wrong.

          Expecting the same abandonment of the Rising Sun for the Japanese people is extremely unreasonable. It's a cultural icon.

          Yes, this symbol may have positive connotations for some Japanese, but you know what? For many others, it's a symbol of imperialism and war. You can't split it down the middle and call it a tie, nor can you just give it to one side because of seniority. Sorry, but antiquated notions of good fortune don't automatically override the very real reactions some still-living people feel because of crimes perpetrated under this flag.

          And banning the Swastika in Germany isn't anywhere near as big a deal because there's not centuries of associated German tradition with the appropriated Hindu symbol.

          What about the Totenkopf? Unlike the Swastika, it predates that regime but is now almost entirely associated with Nazism. How about the black flag? That one goes back to the 18th century too but whatever the intentions of its creators or the various groups that adopted it, it's now simply the 'ISIS flag.' A symbol's meaning and how it's interpreted arenot set in stone, and instead constantly influenced by the actions of those who use it. While some people still appreciate the rising sun for its original and wholesome significance, WWII poisoned the well on it to the point where it is still associated with war crimes.

          And finally, no, not all sense of offense is equal or exempt from censure. For example, if your parents are offended by your hypothetical interracial marriage and object to it

          Not even remotely analogous because you can't equate offence at something harmless (interracial marriage) to something that's so inarguably wrong (war crimes). Just no.

          It is the height of fucking conceit for some assholes to demand that the unwritten condition of the Japanese surrender was the abandonment of their long-standing iconography and history.

          Wow, okay... no one is claiming that Japanese culture be erased (this is Kotaku okay, I'm pretty goddamn sure that everyone who reads this site has some appreciation of Japanese culture). No, it's an issue of respect. It's no skin off my back because I wasn't affected by by this flag but plenty of people were, and it's extremely conceited for anyone (least of all, an online commenter from Australia) to say how they should or shouldn't feel when presented with a symbol that's associated with tragedy, especially when it's snuck in an animated film.

            First of all, the analogy is to point out that feelings of offense can be wrong, based on their root, not to equate war crimes with interracial marriage. Analogy does not mean Equating. They have different definitions. Don't try to tell me you don't know how analogies work - it's about finding points of commonality between two situations, ignoring the scale or proportion. "Oh my god, how dare you try to compare evil hydrogen bombs to the blessed, life-giving sun when discussing nuclear fusion!" People may feel certain ways as a result of their personal experience (for example, someone whose sole experience with a certain ethnic group has been of them being abusive), and it doesn't matter how sincere or understandable the basis of those feelings, it doesn't make their feelings (or resultant demands from those feelings) fair or reasonable, and certainly not tolerable when it demands unfair actions. Especially not when the more objective data is available.

            Wow, okay... no one is claiming that Japanese culture be erased (this is Kotaku okay, I'm pretty goddamn sure that everyone who reads this site has some appreciation of Japanese culture). No, it's an issue of respect. It's no skin off my back because I wasn't affected by by this flag but plenty of people were, and it's extremely conceited for anyone (least of all, an online commenter from Australia) to say how they should or shouldn't feel when presented with a symbol that's associated with tragedy, especially when it's snuck in an animated film.

            Oh, yes, no-one's calling for them to be erased, just for the national symbol (not the military flag, but the symbol of lines radiating from a rising sun - and that IS what they're calling for) to be erased, and any imagery or names relating to them. Because apparently Japan can only be respectful by being hidden quietly in the corner and pretending not to exist. Maybe then everything will be OK? For how long? You've got to be kidding. That's not respect, it's bullying, it's abuse, it's unreasonable, and it's hyper-reactionary bullshit. The BEST thing to do with the imagery is keep it into background posters advertising concerts and take-away stores, disassociating it from the military connections, show everyone how it's meant to be - AND IS - used.

            And there is no 'snuck' into a film... rising sun symbolism is part of the fucking cultural identity. That's what you don't seem to get. When you make a film that has a Japanese heritage built into the very foundations of the movie's setting, then having the visual cues of that identity is part and parcel of the package. It's white-washing, otherwise. "Welcome to San Fransokyo, a fusion of San Fracisco and Japan! Wait... oh my god, they snuck in some quintessentially Japanese iconography! How did this ever happen? Quickly, remove anything Japanese-related about this significantly-Japanese-built city." 'Snuck'? Wow. Weasel words in action.

            And that symbolism is not MEANT to be associated purely with the war, shouldn't be, and it's incredibly unreasonable for Koreans to stamp their feet and demand that it should, and consequentially be removed from the future forever just because of their experience with it. You want a far more apt analogy? It's just like the American flag isn't meant to be permanently associated with the mass nuclear explosive murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians, and ONLY the mass-murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

            By your logic it would be fair and reasonable for any references to the American flag, American names, American cultural icons, or American imagery be removed out of 'cultural sensitivity' when screened in Japan. Better edit out those stars and stripes or red-white-and-blue, or the Japanese people will be reminded of the unacknowledged war crimes committed by the US by detonating nuclear weapons on population centres! It's idiocy. Pure, disproportionate idiocy.
            While some people still appreciate the rising sun [/stars and stripes] for its original and wholesome significance, WWII poisoned the well on it to the point where it is still associated with war crimes.
            Nope, the US flag poisoned that well by association with those atrocities, right? Christ. Listen to yourself.

            You don't have to be from the area or affected by the history to be able to plainly see and be disgusted by rank injustice. The feelings? They're unreasonable. But that's not the worst issue here. The worse issue is the capitulation. Those are NOT reasonable demands by any stretch of the imagination, but here we are.

            Last edited 20/01/15 11:54 pm

    As a black man from the American south who has also lived in both Japan and,Korea, I see stark similarities between the Confederate flag, and what it represented even through the civil rights movement. I think those saying "get over it" need to learn a lesson in perspective.

    Movies offend Christians all the time, but I don't see anyone writing about that!

    Removing the Rising Sun is at least somewhat understandable. But removing all references to Japan and Japanese people? That's racist as shit and should be condemned.

    There is something that you cannot believe! When I was watching, during the flashback of Tadashi's test. On test #7, when it fails, the scrambled part shows that an ISIS flag is quickly flashed, but the writing is replaced with Japanese characters. This is very scary to look for, but it is true. Trust me. I've seen it.

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