The much-anticipated PS5-exclusive RPG, Rise of Ronin, developed by Team Ninja, will not see its release in South Korea. The decision comes after a wave of online protests. These protests were sparked by a comment from the game’s director, Fumihiko Yasuda.

In a video discussing the game’s creation, Yasuda drew parallels between Yoshida Shoin, a Japanese scholar, and Socrates, a Greek philosopher. He expressed a desire to reflect Shoin’s teachings in the game. This comparison did not sit well with many in South Korea.

Yoshida Shoin, who lived from 1830 to 1859, played a significant role in the Meiji Restoration. His students became leaders in Japan’s new government, which adopted imperialist policies, including the annexation of Korea. Shoin’s ideas are still influential in Japan’s right-wing politics today.

The historical tension between South Korea and Japan, stemming from Japan’s imperialist past, fueled the backlash. The comparison of Shoin to Socrates, given Shoin’s advocacy for Korea’s annexation, was seen as insensitive by many Koreans. They voiced their displeasure on online forums and called for a boycott of the game.

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In response to the controversy, Sony decided to cancel both the physical and digital releases of Rise of the Ronin in South Korea. The company has not provided an official explanation for this decision.

Rise of the Ronin is set during the Boshin War, a pivotal period that led to the Meiji Restoration. Yasuda’s intention to include Shoin’s teachings in the game was to offer historical context. However, the manner in which he made the comparison has been criticized as tactless, given the sensitive nature of the subject.