‘Snowdrop’: Why The Controversial K-Drama Is Being Called ‘Insensitive’ Toward Koreans

There has been a lot of news coverage and comments about Jisoo and Park Hae-in’s latest Korean drama, Snowdrop. Before the K-drama‘s release in 2021, netizens petitioned for its cancellation over its controversial distortion of historical facts. Snowdrop uses South Korea’s history of the Democratic movement of 1987 as a backdrop for its K-drama storyline.

Despite the K-drama’s slight rise in ratings, South Koreans still see Snowdrop as an insult to the individuals who took part in paving the way for the country’s first democratic elections.

[Spoiler alert: This article contains mild spoilers for Snowdrop.]

Actors Jisoo and Jung Hae-in for 'Snowdrop' K-drama wearing beige shirts looking at each other.
Actors Jisoo and Jung Hae-in for ‘Snowdrop’ K-drama | via JTBC

‘Snowdrop’ entails a female college student falling in love with a spy

The leaked synopsis online caused the spread of controversy concerning the K-drama. While the production company, JTBC, stated the storyline would differ while filming. After Snowdrop’s premiere, South Korean fans realized the story still had many elements of distorted history.

The Snowdrop K-drama entails a female freshman college student named Eun Young-ro (Jisoo). She meets an economics student from the University of Berlin named Im Soo-ho (Jung Hae-in). They meet again under different circumstances when she finds him wounded, bloodied, and escaping from government officers in her room.

As the K-drama used the Democratic Movement of 1987 as a premise, Young-ro is under the impression that Soo-ho is a protestor. She and her friends help hide him from the government, who are, in reality, looking for a North Korean spy.

As Young-ro helps Soo-ho mend his wounds, they develop feelings for one another. But their love story becomes betrayal when Soo-ho is revealed to be the spy the government is after.

One fan is disappointed over the lack of respect in ‘Snowdrop’s’ K-drama storyline

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After the initial controversy over the leaked storyline for Snowdrop, JTBC claimed it would change as the K-drama aired new episodes. One fan on Reddit was disappointed in the cast agreeing to the original script before revisions.

“Overall, this cast and crew has just been super insensitive to people whose struggle, fight, and loss all play a role in the freedom that they now experience,” said the fan. The fan also noted Jisoo’s character in the K-drama and one of the reasons why the North-South Korean love story angered fans.

According to the fan, Jisoo’s character name was changed. But there was one major issue. “Jisoo’s character name is also the name of a real-life protester whose husband got murdered ( yes murdered ) due to being imprisoned, tortured, and malnourished. The reason he was imprisoned was because he was falsely accused as an NK spy,” said the fan.

South Koreans have shown their distaste toward using a romance story as the main hook in Snowdrop. In the K-drama, Young-ro, and Soo-ho fall in love at first sight. While the students and Young-ro are aware the government is looking for a spy, Young-ro still believes he is a protestor. As Soo-ho continues his assignment, Young-ro’s family backstory further complicates things.

Fans believe the K-drama is glorifying certain lead characters

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Besides the complex details of the romance story in Snowdrop, Korean fans showed their concern over another issue. They feared the K-drama showed certain characters in a different light. One fan on Reddit explained, “To put it into context: What would be your reaction if you saw a romance Netflix Series that portrays the Nazis as somewhat likable and glorifies them?”

The fan explained that the “Central/government intelligence” agents tasked with catching North Korean spies in the drama are inaccurate.

“They are a group who killed SO many innocent people—especially young students at the time who were protesting against the oppression,” said the fan. Another fan added that the historical events resulted from college students protesting. The dictator at the time was “jailing these students on the false reasoning that they were causing social unrests because they were North Korean spies.”

As the petition to have Snowdrop taken off the air was denied by the Blue House, a new petition has surfaced. According to AllKPop, 30 professors and scholars have asked the president of Disney+ Asia-Pacific to find experts to evaluate the misconstrued historical facts in the drama.