An exhibition based on the massively popular manga “One Piece” scheduled to take place at the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul from July 12th has been canceled, it was announced on July 10th.

Organizers said they have made the decision after people realized that numerous motifs in the original manga were reminiscent of the Rising Sun flag, a symbol of Japanese militarism and which has a particularly painful resonance in Korea, a country which suffered from decades as a colony of Japan.

The TV anime version of “One Piece” has already been broadcast in Korea and so the content of the exhibition had previously been judged as harmless, according to the museum. As such, they agreed to rent out a section of the venue for the event. However, after being told that Rising Sun Flag images appeared in the original manga they changed their minds, although no such images were featured in the actual planned exhibits. As the museum is run as a public organization funded by the state they had no choice but to cancel the exhibition.

one piece manga expo exhibition korea seoul cancel politics rising sun flag nationalist symbol wartime aggression

Like in Japan, Eiichiro Oda’s “One Piece” is popular in Korea and the exhibition, along with sketches and other materials, was going to feature life-size models of the characters, bringing the world of the manga and anime to 3D life for visitors. It would have been very successful too if early numbers are anything to go by. The events company behind the show said it had received reservations alone from 5,000 people! Not surprisingly they are now looking for an alternative venue for their exhibition since there is clearly demand for it, regardless of the politics.

While it might seem inappropriate or even bizarre to hold a mainstream exhibition (i.e. a piece of entertainment) like this at a war memorial in the first place, the Seoul venue is actually very large and has multiple spaces for all kinds of functions and events.

A similar exhibition opened recently in Taiwan, also a former Japanese colony, apparently without similar issues.

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4 Comments

  • Avatar
    Marie Rossi July 11, 2014

    I bought a ticket to this weeks ago for TOMORROW, and just got a korean text confirming it for me. Why confirm it if its cancelled?Theyre still selling tickets, too.

  • William
    William (Post author) July 11, 2014

    @Marie Rossi
    Yes, this is a fluid situation and there is some confusion. The Japanese media is quoting the museum as saying the exhibition is cancelled at the venue. However, we have heard that the organizers (i.e. the event promotion company) have not formally cancelled the event and still hope to put it on at an alternative venue soon. No doubt your ticket will still be valid, though your best bet will surely be to check with the ticket agent or point of purchase.

  • Avatar
    Cenkhyun July 16, 2014

    I’d like to claim from Korean’s standpoint. First of all I am korean and 16 yrs old. I have never been to overseas, so I might have the most korean point of view. Well, I think people’s opinions are so biased on the comment wall. I felt like anime otakus or some of people in here have prejudice that Korean kids educated antipathy of Japan blindly. But, I state Korean’s views. Hmm.. Some time or other, Korea and Japan will inevitably embrace each other as neighbours. In fact, there are many Koreans and Japanese solidify their friendship. Also, there is an existence of anti-Koreans and anti-Japanese. Furthermore, anti-Koreans protest for Korean hatred at Korea Town in Japan. That’s because Koreans denounced distorted histories by Japanese government. But, who heartily wants to be friend with Japan is Koreans more than any other country, so as Japanese. Nevertheless, that is hardly possible without a sincere apology of Japan. I personally forgave what Japanese war criminals did in the past. The fact is Germany is educating all the citizens including children about circumstances of their war crime not to revert to the past. Whereas, Japan is concealling almost the whole crime. I want to ask you back. If.. Your grandmother had been dragged for sex slaves and killed by tortures, are you confident you don’t feel anger at assailants? We must forgive, but, should not forget! Otherwise, the history is unnecessary. History is provement of our lives and it is a way of peace by learning history. The most of non-asians will not understand why Asians trying to ban the rising sun flags in the comics of one piece. The flag used as an emblem of militarism in WW2 which gives Asians a scar in the heart like Hakenkruez. Anyway I agree that the place is not appropriate to show off one piece.

  • Avatar
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