Netflix Series Narco-Saints Causes Backlash from the Republic of Suriname Government


Narco-Saints won first place in the TV (Non-English) rank on Netflix. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Lee Daeun, Staff Writer

   On Sept. 12, 2022, the government of the Republic of Suriname forewarned legal action against the producers of the South Korean Netflix series “Narco-Saints” due to its storyline. The government is concerned that the storyline of “Narco-Saints” portrays a negative image of Suriname.

   The six-episode Netflix series released Sept. 9, 2022, “Narco-Saints,” is the story of a businessman cooperating with the National Intelligence Service’s (NIS) secret operation to arrest a Korean drug king who took control of Suriname, a South American country. The show is directed by Yoon Jong-bin and stars actors Ha Jungwoo, Hwang Jung-min, Park Hae-soo, Cho Woo-jin, and Yoo Yeon-seok. Suriname is depicted as a lawless world in the series where there are no sanctions even if immigrants such as Chinese and Koreans wield weapons and shoot guns.

   During a press briefing on Sept. 12, 2022, Albert Ramdin, the foreign minister of Suriname, declared that they are reviewing the possibility of suing the production company. The reason why Suriname is considering the accusation is that the show is causing a negative perception of the country, regardless of whether the story is true or not. Furthermore, the show was watched a total of 62,650,000 hours a week worldwide from Sept. 12 to 18, 2022.

   Concerned about backlash from Suriname, the Korean Residents’ Community in Suriname sent an official letter to the “Narco-Saints” production company, Perfect Storm Film Incorporation, to request that the English title be changed before the release of the series in July 2022. In response, the production company changed the English title from “Suriname” to “Narco-Saints.”

   Nevertheless, Venezuela’s Korean Embassy webpage put out a notice requesting Korean residents in Suriname to pay attention to their safety and contact the embassy when they have any concerns or need help because of the latest opposition.

   Lee Jae-won, the chairman of the Korean Residents’ Community in Suriname, published an explanatory article in one of Suriname’s prominent daily newspapers, De Ware Tijd, that there is a misunderstanding of the negative portrayal of Suriname in the drama. In an international phone call interview with online news media, Chosun Biz, he said, “We are also trying to resolve misunderstandings on social media such as Facebook.”

   “Narco-Saints” took first place on the list of non-English TV series on Netflix in the third week of September. These days, since K-dramas are famous worldwide, public opinions have increased, and viewers are asking that more attention be paid to the representation of other countries in K-media content.