Sims 4 Snowy Escape addresses South Korean players’ concerns

Concerns raised by South Korean players over imagery in the new Sims 4 expansion pack, Snowy Escape, have been addressed by the game's developers.

The Sims 4 developers moved quickly to address concerns raised by South Korean players over imagery and interactions in the new Snowy Escape expansion pack.

Senior Sims producer, Graham Nardone, made the announcement on Twitter on Friday.

South Korean players raised concerns over some imagery and interaction in the upcoming expansion pack when the trailer for the pack was released earlier in the week.

As reported by fansite, Sims Community, South Korean players noted concerns with both what appeared to the shrine worshipping and imagery that represents the Rising Sun flag.

"We modified the reveal trailer for The Sims 4 Snowy Escape and have made changes to the pack to respect our Korean players. I want you to know that those changes will be in-game when Snowy Escape launches," Nardone said on Twitter.

"Specifically, we will not have Sims bow in front of shrines in the world of Mt. Komorebi. Further, we've adjusted some patterns on clothing and objects within Snowy Escape that unintentionally evoked imagery with painful historic meaning," he added.

"We aim to be inclusive. We involve others both within and outside of our team, and we listen to them as representatives of the cultures that we draw inspiration from. We’re unwavering in our commitment to representing more of our player’s lives in an authentic and respectful way," Nardone concluded.

Sims 4 Snowy Escape expansion: South Korean players explain their concerns

South Korean players noted two scènes in the reveal trailer that they felt were insensitive. Most notably, shrine worship and the rising sun flag are viewed as representations of Japanese colonialism. The two scenes, which have since been removed from the trailer and will not be in the game, are shown below.

Sims 4 Snowy Escape Rising Sun Imagery

One comment on YouTube (translated) noted:

This is the result of Orientalism. I know that EA likes Japanese culture. But this is too much. Korea had been forced by Japan. They forced Koreans to greet their religious buildings. Koreans had to be tortured or killed if they didn’t do what Japan wanted. Surprisingly, the religious building appears in the game.

Rising Sun flag is particularly problematic in South Korea

For South Korean players, this imagery was by their most serious concern. While the Rising Sun flag is usually red, it is possible that some swatches in the game might have fitted that design. The symbol became a flag of the Japanese military during the 19th Century.

Ahead of what would have been the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, there were several campaigns to have the flag banned from stadiums at the Games.

In September last year, South Korea’s sports ministry asked the International Olympic Committee [IOC] to ban the flag –

Critics - and many South Koreans - say it is a symbol of racial segregation - and perceived superiority.

"No-one in Japan uses the rising sun flag for any purpose other than romanticising and rewriting the horrible human rights abuses committed under the Japanese empire," Koichi Nakano, professor of political science at Sophia University in Tokyo, told the BBC earlier this year.

As explained by the BBC:

In 1905, Japan occupied Korea as a protectorate, and five years later as a full-fledged colony.

The Japanese rule was one of economic exploitation and hundreds of thousands of Koreans were pressed into forced labour to aid the Japanese expansion in other parts of Asia.

The brutal regime also saw thousands of girls and young women forced to work in military brothels set up for Japanese soldiers before and during World War Two.

South Korean players had mixed feelings about the shrine worship imagery (also now changed). While many Japanse religions are shrine worshipping gods and this is common practice in Japan, there are concerns that some of these shrines have imperialist connotations.

As explained by one comment from a South Korean player: "Imagine that there’s a monument worshiping dedicated to war criminals in your game that you can make your Sim bow to."

The images below show the changes made to the trailer in The Sims 4 Snowy escape trailer and the changes which will be reflected in game.

Sims 4 Snowy Escape Shrine Worship Change
Sims 4 Snow Escape Changes To Trailer

The new Sims 4 Snowy Escape expansion pack will be released on 13 November 2020, with a live stream deep dive into the new game play and features of the pack scheduled for 13 November.

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Antoinette Muller
Antoinette is a recovering journalist. She's a multi-award winner and thinks it's strange writing about herself in the third person, unless she's playing as herself in The Sims.