Final Fantasy 14 costume causes controversy among Korean players

A new Final Fantasy 14 costume has caused some controversy among the game’s Korean player base. The costume in question, currently exclusive to Chinese servers, can be seen as a callback to the Japanese occupation of Korea and certain abuses committed during that time.

Twitter user and artist chehe_dotharl pointed out that the costume is causing controversy due to it being of a style imposed during the Japanese occupation. Specifically, during the occupation, the Japanese occupiers put Koreans through an “erasure of their own culture,” as chehe_dotharl puts it. As part of this, many Koreans were forced to don that style of outfit, and even to take on Japanese names.

With this in mind, the style of dress reflected in the new Final Fantasy 14 costume tends to have more “sinister” implications in Korea. Cheche_dotharl compares it to having Nazi uniforms introduced into a fantasy game.

In addition to this, they also point out that other elements of Final Fantasy 14‘s Stormblood expansion have also been cause for concern. Specifically, a bulk of the story of the Doman people, who are seen to be analogous to the Japanese, has them experiencing events similar what the Koreans underwent during the Japanese occupation.

Twitter user Rainy however has provided some insight on the costumes, stating that the design of the costumes actually pre-date the Japanese occupation of Korea. The costumes actually date from the late 1800s during the Meiji era. Here, they were made part of the standard public dress as one of the ways to demolish Japan’s old caste system. They state that Japan introducing them in Korea was, in part, a way to do the same with the Korean Jeoson dynasty’s system, where the children of people considered Cheonmin, or “vulgar commoners,” were born into slavery. Of course, that still doesn’t mean it doesn’t have negative implications in Korea.

Now, Square Enix has actually only released the costume in China. It’s possible the company didn’t release these costumes in Korea because the developers were aware of its negative implications. Additionally, China also has its own negative experiences with Japanese occupation, so releasing the costume there can also be seen as problematic.

The Japanese occupation of Korea still causes tensions between the people of both countries to this day. This has been more so as of late under with the Japanese government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. A noted historical revisionist, some of Abe’s views have exacerbated these tensions with Korea.

With this in mind, Square Enix probably should have been more careful with the release of these costumes, or chosen ones with less negative implications with Korea and other neighboring countries.