On Monday, the Surinamese officially protested against the Netflix series Narco-Saints in its portrayal of Suriname. According to the Suriname Herald article, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Albert Ramdin, stated in a press briefing that he would take legal action against the series producers. The basis is that the series depicted Suriname as a depraved country associated with cocaine.
Minister Ramdin stated that Suriname made so much effort to distance itself from the negative perceptions and “is no longer a country associated with drugs.” However, due to the popular series, the country is on the verge of a crisis as it is tainted by the series’ conceptualization. He added, “Whether the practices presented … are true or false, it’s creating a negative perception. The whole world sees these things, so this is not good.”
The minister plans to converse with the U.S. Embassy in Korea as there is no Korean embassy in Suriname.
Narco-Saints’ original title in Korean is “Suriname.” The plot revolves around a drug lord ruling Suriname and undercover agents on an operation to capture him. The series is based on true events related to Korean drug lord Cho Bong-Haeng. The drug lord is infamous for operating a massive trafficking organization in Suriname between the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The Korean Embassy in Venezuela released an official statement warning local Korean residents to pay special attention to their safety. The statement, “Safety Notice for the Korean Community in Suriname,” was posted on their website.
The statement read, “We are assuming that many Korean residents in Suriname are very troubled due to the aftermath of ‘Suriname. Please pay attention to your safety, and if there are any concerns or need for help, please notify us through the local president of the Korean community immediately. The embassy has the safety of Koreans as our first concern and will do our best for your security.”
In a local press interview in Samcheong-dong, Narco-Saints director Yoon Jong-bin declined to comment on the issue of the Surinamese government’s objection to the show’s depiction of their country. When the press asked about the Korean title of the series, “From the beginning of Episode 1 of the series, the word ‘Suriname’ keeps popping up throughout the story. I could not think of any other title than to name it as ‘Suriname.'”
According to a Seoul Foreign Ministry official, South Korea hasn’t received any formal statement from Suriname regarding the issue. Netflix also stated they don’t have plans to issue any comment on the matter.