Criticism has spread for "Shining Nicky," which caused a controversy over the "Hanbok Northeast Project," suddenly declaring that the Korean version of the service would be suspended without apology or refund. Let's look at the Shining Nicky case, the controversial China’s Northeast Project and solutions.
What is the ‘Shining Nicky’ case?
The controversy over Shining Nicky began on October 29, 2020, when Paper Games introduced hanbok costume items called "Gaon-gil of Dignity" and "Hanul in Time" to Shining Nicky in commemoration of the launch of its game service in Korea. Chinese users expressed displeasure with Shining Nicky, which introduced hanbok as "Korean traditional clothing." Rather, they said, "Hanbok is similar to the clothes of Ming Dynasty," and "Hanbok is the traditional costume of Ming Dynasty Hanfu, a traditional Korean-Chinese costume” As criticism from Chinese users continued, Shining Nicky on November 4, 2020, said, through the official account of Weibo, a Chinese SNS, that it decided to remove all hanbok items from the game, saying, "As a Chinese company, I want to emphasize that our position as a Chinese company is always consistent with our country (China)."
The next day, on November 5, 2020, it posted a statement on the official cafe saying that it would end the service in Korea. "After guiding the notice of the disposal of Korean items, some Korean accounts still insulted China, exceeding our last limit," the company said. "As a Chinese company, we will protect the dignity of the nation." The notice also drew strong opposition from Korean users by attaching a Chinese blog post claiming that traditional Korean costumes were heavily influenced by China. Korean users and Internet users said, "Don't serve Korea again," "Show Chinese Communism properly," and “Be careful of the Communist Party of China."
Meanwhile, as Paper Games announced the end of the Korean version of Shining Nicky's service, it belatedly announced on the morning of November 6, 2020, "Refund payment amounts and cancelation payment during the service period" as users flooded with inquiries about item refunds and compensation.
What is the China's Northeast Asian Project?
The Northeast Project is a research project on the Northeast frontier that presents all the history developed within the current Chinese border as Chinese. China decided to carry out research on the Northeast Project in June 2001, and after an eight-month preparation period, it received government approval on February 18 the following year and officially began to promote the Northeast Project. The project was carried out with a five-year project with a deadline in 2006, but has been under way so far, and has recently claimed that the history and culture of the Korean Peninsula, including the old Goguryeo and Balhae regions, belong to China.
The reason China is pursuing the Northeast Project is the elimination of the first dispute over ethnic minorities represented by the so-called Chinese people for China. For China, Korea is quite anxious because of the possibility of the emergence of a nationalist movement to “recover our old territory” after reunification of Korea. In addition, even now, due to the issue of the independence movement of ethnic minorities (Uighur, Tibet, etc.), they are obsessed with this idea because they are in a position that they have to put a stake in this opportunity.
Controversy in Other Chinese Games: The Backdoor Case of 'Wonshin'
This was not the first time that China has shown an unusual power trip against other countries. The Chinese game 'Wonshin' which was sensationally popular, was once embroiled in controversy over "backdoor" and "political color." Released on August 28th, 2020 by the game company 'Miho-yo', this game acquired a good reputation by applying The Legend of Zelda's, Nintendo's flagship film that gets the users to defeat the evil king and save Princess Zelda by manipulating the main character's link, with superb game quality on the online environment. It had even been listed on the top sales rankings in many countries. But not soon after, suspicions arose about their "backdoor system." "Backdoor" is an act of secretly installing an unauthenticated program on computers and using various functions without permission or secretly extracting information. Miho-yo drew a line on the backdoor suspicion remarking "It's only applied to prevent hacking from the vicious users.” But as some users state, even after terminating or deleting the game, the anti-chart (software that prevents malicious users from analyzing or hacking the game) remained. And when this game was carried out on IOS, a warning sign appeared, saying 'someone is accessing the clipboard information.' Thus the suspicion on "wonshin" became more serious. To make matters worse, Wonshin's political color had been controversial. According to the community and other users, names of countries that China has had conflicts with over the years such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Tibet was banned from chatting. Furthermore words such as Tiananmen Gate and Xinjiang (Uighur Autonomous Region) are also filtered along with slang. One game industry official remarked "Wonshin is a decisive factor in the Chinese game market, which has made remarkable technological advances." and added, "As many games have proved that Chinese games work in the global market, they should also make efforts to consider international sentiment and standards."
As the first solution to this, there is a Hanbok Challenge hashtag campaign. The hashtag campaign of the "Hanbok Challenge" by Korean citizens has been spreading on social networks since October 29, 2020 when the Shining Nicky case occurred. The 'Hanbok Challenge' hashtag campaign is aimed at informing people about Hanbok, a traditional Korean costume. It was a hot topic because people were resentful of Chinese netizens' remarks on social networks such as twitter and instagram and many posts were uploaded to inform unsers that Hanbok is Korea’s traditional costume.
The second solution is legal sanction. The Korean National Assembly also showed interest in this Shining Nicky case. In addition, Lee Sang-hun of the Democratic Party of Korea said, "The limitation of domestic law is largely behind the act of ignoring domestic users," and added, "We urge overseas game companies to immediately introduce a 'domestic agent designation system' to prevent them from recklessly operating in Korea." The domestic agent designation system mandates the appointment of domestic agents to foreign businesses of a certain size or larger who do not have a domestic business site. If a domestic agent violates a law related to personal information, it acts as the role of eliminating blind spots in the law by enacting a quick improvement measure and informing the overseas business operators of the law. If this system is introduced, it could impose strong legal sanctions on the reckless operation by suddenly shutting down servers.
Lastly, the government’s efforts and right perception of history are needed. To cope with China's Northeast Project, our government’s active protection and promotion of cultural heritage will be needed, and also, Korean citizens should know Korean history and traditions exactly. Professor Park Sung-Ho of Wonkwang University’s Korean Chinese Relations Institute said “Some insist the government should spur promoting Hanbok, which emphasizes that we need to protect our cultural heritage from China’s sophistic claim.” adding, “It is the time for the government to take an active role in protecting our country’s cultural heritage from ‘Cultural Northeast Project’.” He also said, “People should try to actively discover the value of cultural heritage by keeping pace with the government’s movement.” adding, “This means when other countries try to attribute our culture as their own, we must grow the power to protect our culture.”
The Shining Nicky affair is the case of China’s Northeast Project Problem and the lack of legal regulations in foreign game companies was engaged. It is important to combine the movements like ‘Hanbok challenge’ based on the people’s right perception of history, legal regulation of the government, a positive discussion between the two countries about the history, and active cultural promotion so that this kind of affairs do not happen again.
서가희, 김가영, 최수빈, 임윤서, 신채원, 박주하 email@example.com
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