Cartoon ‘Super Wings’ originally produced in South Korea has been suspended in China for using wrong maps
Published: Mar 02, 2021 11:16 PM
Photo: Screenshot of Super Wings posted on Sina Weibo

Photo: Screenshot of Super Wings posted on Sina Weibo

The cartoon Super Wings that was originally produced and aired in South Korea in 2014 has been suspended from all video platforms in China because of using wrong Chinese maps.

The cartoon had also been in the center of public debate after some Chinese netizens noticed that it misleads the children about the origin of China's Mid-Autumn Festival.

Children considered China's Mid-Autumn Festival as a Korean holiday and thought people should eat a traditional Korean cake on that day instead of China's traditional mooncake after watching the show, according to netizens.

The cartoon was originally produced by a South Korean company and airs in several countries.

Children's misunderstanding about the traditional Chinese holiday shocked netizens, causing many to track down the offending episode. They discovered that when speaking of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the show, which airs in Chinese in China, just talks about local customs in South Korea and that some lines could mislead young viewers about the origins of the festival.

Calls to boycott the show began with a Saturday post by netizen "wenjiangtu," who said that she was surprised by the conversation she overheard her younger sister, who is in second grade at elementary school, have with her friends while watching the 25th episode of the fourth season of Super Wings.

The episode was about songpyeon, a traditional Korean rice cake, and Chuseok (lit: autumn eve), a major Korean holiday that is celebrated on the same day as China's Mid-Autumn Festival. In the Chinese version of the show, the holiday is referred to as zhongqiujie, which is the Chinese for the Mid-Autumn Festival. In the episode, one character says "we all eat sonpyeon during the Mid-Autumn Festival. 

The little girl asked whether the Mid-Autumn Festival was a Chinese festival and another boy said that the festival belongs to South Korea and then spread to China.

The netizen was shocked and immediately turned off the cartoon. 

The post struck a chord with netizens. A Chinese mom of a 4-year daughter wrote that she had the same problem and had to spend the whole day explaining to her daughter that the Mid-Autumn Festival originates from China, but the girl still thought the show was right. 

"There is no doubt that the Mid-Autumn Festival, of course, originated in China and was later brought to the Korean Peninsula. Now South Korea is trying to challenge China on many festivals such as Dragon Boat Festival. This idea is wrong," Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Global Times.

"Why not mention the festival originated from China? Why can such a cartoon be broadcast to the public? This is a cultural invasion by South Korea," some netizens commented.

Super Wings is an animated TV series produced by studios in The US, China and South Korea. It was originally produced by South Korean Funnyflux Entertainment and the company was purchased by a Chinese company in 2017. The show sees its characters travel to various countries around the world and introduce local customs to viewers. 

Besides the controversial content about the festival, some maps of China appearing in the animation were also found by netizens to be incorrect.

It uses a wrong map in an episode of the Chinese version, where areas in the southern part of Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region were missing, while another version of that same episode airing on YouTube separates the island of Taiwan from the Chinese territory, said netizens. 

The errors have been reported by audiences. Currently the second season of the show has been taken down from Chinese streaming platform Youku and completely removed from Chinese site Migu Video.

While some netizens said they feel the show helps children learn about different cultures, which benefits their growth, others noted that children need to be taught the correct information instead of being presented unclear or misleading content. 

"I think the Chinese company made some mistakes as it did not check the content and Chinese subtitles, which have a direct influence on children. Parents should spend more time accompanying their children and discover such problems as soon as possible," a mother of 1-year-old living in Beijing told the Global Times, talking about how the incident has made her more cautious. 

Zheng noted that while there are no doubts about the origin of the festival, it has still been the center of some controversy due to the different views in China and South Korea.

"After South Korea changed the name to 'Chuseok,' the festival developed more content including local dances to celebrate the harvest and has become different from the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival," the expert said.