A South Korean cartoon series was taken off Chinese online video platforms last week after people complained that it misled children about the origin of the Mid-Autumn Festival and used wrong maps that shrank Chinese territory.
Super Wings, a preschool educational series co-produced by FunnyFlux Entertainment in South Korea and Alpha Group in China, can no longer be found on major sites including Youku.com and Bilibili.com, although short clips from the show are still available.
The show was first broadcast in Korea in 2014 and on Hunan TV in China in 2015. The series follows a personified airplane who flies all over the world and interacts with children and local culture.
In the past few months, some Chinese internet users found fault with the show, saying that the maps of China presented in the show were missing certain parts, including the south Tibet region, bordering India, and parts of the Changbai Mountains, on the China-North Korea border, as well as blocking Taiwan when showing the map.
They also claimed there were issues of cultural origin, such as in one episode when the airplane man received a mission to deliver a package to a Korean girl with materials to make Songpyeon, which is traditionally eaten during the Korean autumn harvest festival, Chuseok.
Some believed this mislead children into believing that the “Mid-Autumn Festival originated in Korea”.
“After watching, my daughter thinks the festival originated in Korea and we need to eat Songpyeon, even after I tried all morning to educate her about the festival and about eating moon cakes,” one user said on Weibo.
Others pointed out it just revealed that different countries celebrate the same festival.
Others have applauded the videos being taken offline. “We don’t need to show children this kind of content,” one commenter said.
In China, a number of companies have cooperated with Alpha Group to use Super Wings episodes in their advertisements or classes teaching young children, including online education firms VIP Think and Codemao.
However, both denied that the episodes in question were shown in their classes, telling Jiemian News that they support China’s sovereignty and passing on correct values to children.
It isn’t the first time China’s online community acted as cultural vigilantes in pointing out content they deem controversial or misleading.
In January they claimed South Korean internet star Hamzy insulted China by showing anti-China comments in her channel that mocked China for claiming Korean kimchi as its own.
Other arguments included the origins of traditional clothing items, the practice of acupuncture, and traditional holidays.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.