‘Snowdrop’: Creators Reasoning for Developing the K-Drama’s Story, ‘Inspired’ by a North Korean Defector

Since its debut, Disney+‘s first Korean drama, Snowdrop, has mixed reactions. The K-drama received controversy before its official airing. A leaked synopsis angered netizens for its distortion of Korean history. Netizens later petitioned for its cancellation. Its storyline entails precursor events to the Democratic Movement of 1987 and a North Korean spy. Snowdrop’s creators explain how the K-drama’s writer was inpsired by a real-life character.

Character Soo-ho and Young-ro from 'Snowdrop' K-drama wearing tweed jacket in relation to show creators.
Character Soo-ho and Young-ro from ‘Snowdrop’ K-drama | via JTBC

‘Snowdrop’ raised attention over its complex love story

Netizens were angered by the leaked synopsis of Snowdrop. They believed it distorted historical facts involving North Korean spies. Many citizens call the K-drama insensitive to the people who paved the way to freedom from dictatorship. There was also distaste toward Snowdrop’s love story that goes through different levels of turmoil throughout the K-drama.

BLACKPINK’s Jisoo plays the leading role as Eun Young-ro with D.P. actor Jung Hae-in as Im Soo-ho. Young-ro is a freshman college student at an all-female dorm, while Soo-ho is an Economics major from Germany. They fall in love at first sight after a blind date.

Fans were expecting a run-of-the-mill love story, but it became something more. In Snowdrop, Im-soo is a North Korean spy being hunted by the government. When he seeks refuge at the women’s dorm, Young-ro hides him, believing he is a protestor. Young-ro’s act of kindness put her friends and the other students in jeopardy. Im-soo and his comrades are later forced to take them hostage.

‘Snowdrop’ creators explain what inspired the K-drama’s writer

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Without giving too much away about Snowdrop, its storyline includes many historical figures and government organizations. Despite netizens accusing JTBC of distorting historical facts concerning government offices and officials, Snowdrop’s creators explain how the storyline came to be.

According to Soompi, the creators credit its lead writer for Snowdrop. After the initial controversy regarding the K-drama, PD Jo Hyun-tak gave more details at the press conference. The drama was “a plan that writer Yoo Hyun Mi has prepared for a long time. She says she was inspired by the writing of a North Korean defector who escaped from a concentration camp in 2008.”

Jo further explains the story written by the defector, “included her own experience of women’s dorms from attending university in the 1980s. As those connections were combined, the details of Snowdrop emerged.”

Fans on Reddit discussed the problematic details regarding the character Young-ro, as Snowdrop’s storyline is based on real-life events. Young-ro is also a student at a women’s dorm in the 80s. A fan on Reddit explains the character’s name is that of a real-life person. Her husband was tortured after being falsely accused as a Northern spy.

What do the K-drama’s creators think of the controversy surrounding the storyline?

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After the initial petition and leak of the K-drama’s synopsis, Snowdrop’s creators assured fans the script would go through revisions and the storyline changes as the episodes air.

PD Jo explained, “As it began from the writing of a North Korean defector, there are mentions of North Korea in the material but rather than it being political or ideological, [it’s about] the person from North Korea. Instead of focusing on North Korea, I thought that we tried to look deeply and get a closer look at the person.”

Snowdrop takes fans on a whirlwind story that started as a young romance that soon became political upheaval. A North and South romance story mixed with the real-life events of what would later become the June 1987 Democracy Movement.