For the sake of Sita is a Korean manhua by Korean Writer, Haga. This is a story with setting of Kumari tradition of Nepal as its main theme so this story has caught quite a popularity in Nepali audience and received love from them. In 2019, a teaser of its anime adaptation was released by SYOK Studio in their YouTube Channel.
After the teaser, they proceeded to upload 2 OSTs, another PV and a 4 minute long episode claimed to be “first episode” among 12 episodes which was supposed to release as well with other regular uploads. But after a while, the project got cancelled. And the scenario wasn’t normal, the project and people involved in the project are surrounded by so much controversies that one can’t even imagine.
It all starts with a Korean startup animation studio, SYOK studio with their announcement for project of animating ‘For the Sake of Sita’ webtoon by Haga. The preview looked a lot promising for both the anime adaptation and future of Korean animation scene. It received all the praise, the hype and the talk. It surely made the fans excited.
The preview surfaced in the Nepali internet as well and quickly caught the excitement of Nepalese. But after all that, the channel of the studio just disappeared out of nowhere along with all the trailers, OSTs and clips without a trace. It seemed like they deleted themselves from the existence entirely and all of that seemed like a dream.
At first, I thought maybe people of Nepal got offended because it’s connected to traditions and cultures, it’s a really sensitive topic and people would react strongly on the topic of faith. And no matter how much people loved the story, if you do a bit of research you would know that a very poor research was done by the writer for the study. Surely it is a work of fiction but you don’t fly to Lukla Airport (which is not even an international airport) from South Korea and go to Patan Durbar Square, Lalitpur instead of using Tribhuvan International Airport which is right there in Kathmandu, even portraying Baglung as a “red-light district”, and travelling among all those places mentioned above so casually which is quite difficult in the real scenario. But it’s not something that would have troubled people a lot.
The involvement of Kumari included in the story is what would have caused the real trouble. And a fictional story roaming around culture? I don’t see most people here accepting or welcoming that so a lot of people could opposing this strongly.
Even some people from India opposed this on social medias by getting confused and mixing this with Queen Sita from Ramayana, who shares the same name as the protagonist, thinking this would spread misconception about their culture as well. But it was just misunderstanding from their part.
So, I thought, these were the reason that they were troubled or may be restricted the video to this region or at worst case may be cancelled the whole project. This is not the first time anime had faced such type of controversy but the industry was never bothered by it and stopped some project for such reasons in the past. But since this is a new startup so there was a possibility.
So, I tried to check it from different parts of the world. Thank you, the technology of VPN. But I wasn’t successful in accessing their channel with that as well, so I thought they really cancelled the project. But I wondered why they need to delete the whole YouTube channel for that? That’s when I decided to research on what exactly happened. That’s when I reached the truth and I was in no way ready to face that.
The reason why many people are oblivious about the truth of the whole incident is because we were using wrong key to unlock the truth. Most of us may have searched “For the Sake of Sita” or “SYOK Studio” but the right word to search was “쇽스튜디오” which is Korean script for “SYOK Studio”. And once you do that all the controversies surrounding this project will surface in front of you.
And Surely, translating the pages would help a lot because all of them would be in Korean. Then you’ll have access to all the controversies involved with the studio. Whether it be controversy of plagiarism, or controversies regarding fraud, or bankruptcy, you name it, this project has it all.
The center of all the controversies surrounding this project seems to be the crowd-funding controversy. The studio appealed for crowd fund with target of 50 Million Won, which went past the target with collection reaching 78,094,200 won. It’s like 156% of the target amount. Following this, the studio suspended the project for indefinite period and promised for refund but people didn’t receive it.
The funding site, Tumblbuck issued a notice regarding that but the studio went into hiding and cut off contact to outside. The original author pulled his hands from this fire of controversies and following all this, their YouTube Channel got blown away. Some people did feel something was off since the beginning and didn’t trust this at all from the start.
The studio collected around 78 millions of funding and disappeared into thin air. Later on, studio filed for bankruptcy and even gave their statement regarding the situation on the funding page. The CEO claimed that the economy worsen by the COVID-19 affected their plans completely. He took loans to cover the production cost of the project but later got stuck between bankruptcy and refund. Most people reacted to the statement by saying they should have informed about this before bankruptcy.
Except this there has been controversy of background plagiarism involved in this project. It was revealed that a background was plagiarized from the movie ‘Tangled’. Even author himself had faced controversy of tracing in the past. And hypothetically, if the anime would have been released then there’s a possibility that there would have been decent voices opposing this project from some regions. So we can say ‘For the Sake of Sita’ was surrounded with tragedies and controversies almost all of the time.
At this moment, case of bankruptcy is being filed. Since, the studio itself filed for bankruptcy, refund is out of business. People who donated would only get like 3.64% of total donation. With all this ruckus, I need not to say the project is dismantled. Fans who were waiting for this project, the project which carried the hopes for the bright future of Korean Anime Industry, webtoon fans waiting for the anime adaptation and excitement of Nepalese fans who couldn’t wait to watch Nepal as the main setting and location of an anime, ended up with getting disappointed.
So can we take anything good from this whole incident?
No doubt the incident was filled with controversies. It sets the bad example, that too a preceding one for future steps that Korean anime industry may take. This will be a hindrance on some great stories from Korea to get and anime adaptation. Not only that but some really promising talents and potential will likely get effects from this incident. Not only Korean but other countries as well who love the medium so much and want to start it on their own respective country.
This bad example can touch each and every one of them. And with incident like this where everyone involved in the project are engulfed in controversy, you cannot trust anyone or what they are saying. But we can take some few things from this as well.
Considering a scenario in which SYOK studio is saying truth, startups like these are surely risky and tragedy might befall you as well once you let you guard down with challenges that inexperience may invite. Because what SYOK Studio “faced”, it’s quite possible to happen in startups like this. And For those who are inspired and love this media and want to start it on their own region, this surely tells you to be well prepared and fully planned with the list of obstacle you may face.
Link of Crowd-funding Page: https://tumblbug.com/sita_ani/community/7b727c1a-e8b7-448d-9751-31f40437b586