Snowdrop starring BLACKPINK’s Jisoo and Jung Haein has come under intense scrutiny for alleged distortions of history after just two episodes.
The K-drama takes place during the 1987 Democracy Movement—an important period in South Korea’s history that marked the beginning of its present government system. University student Im Suho (Jung Haein) crosses paths with Eun Youngro (Jisoo) after he appears at a women’s university in a bloody state.
Following Snowdrop’s premiere, an e-petition calling for its cancelation was posted on the Blue House’s (South Korea’s Malacañang) website on Sunday night, Dec. 19. In South Korea, if a petition got the backing of over 200,000 signatures within 30 days, high-level government officials would issue a statement.
According to the petition, a scene in which Youngro saves a North Korean spy after mistaking him as a pro-democracy activist is “inappropriate.”
“Activists were tortured and died after being falsely accused of being North Korean spies. I believe the content of the drama defames the value and reputation of the democratization movement,” the petition said.
The petition reached over 270,000 signatures, as of this writing.
Snowdrop also included the “historically significant” song Dear Pine, Dear Pine, as per Hype, that’s used for the pro-democracy movement in a scene where the spy was seen escaping from a member of the Agency for National Security Planning (NSP). The NSP has a decades-long history of taking down pro-democracy activists and political opponents.
The report also noted that some viewers expressed their “discomfort” over the use of the song.
To recall, Snowdrop faced backlash after the synopsis and characters were leaked in March 2021. The leaked information accused one of the characters of being part of the NSP and for “glamorizing” South Korea’s democratic movement, as per The Korea Times.
However, JTBC, the network where the series is airing, clarified that Snowdrop is a “black comedy-drama satirizing the political situation between the two Koreas under the authoritarian government back in the 1980s.”
Chungnam National University professor and drama critic Yun Sukjin said it’s “too premature” to judge the series as such in an interview with The Korea Times. The critic, however, noted that writers and directors should be “more responsible” in referring to historical events in their work.
Withdrawal of sponsors
Several companies already withdrew their sponsorships from Snowdrop following the controversy, according to a report by Newsen. These include retail brand Ganisong, tea company Teazen, Seoul Milk, and Heungil Furniture, among others.
안녕하세요 기능성차 전문 브랜드 티젠 입니다.— 티젠 (@Teazen_kr) December 19, 2021
최근 일어난 광고 협찬 문제로 인해 심려를 끼쳐 드려 진심으로 머리 숙여 사과 드립니다.
티젠은 해당 시간대의 광고를 중단하도록 조치하였으며 앞으로 더 좋은 모습 보여드릴 수 있도록 노력하겠습니다. pic.twitter.com/O60l9bpD69
In a statement posted on Twitter, Teazen said it took “appropriate measures to stop advertising our products” in the K-drama.
“We sincerely bow our heads in apology for causing concern due to the recent sponsorship issue,” the statement read.
‘All it gave me was exasperation’
Netizens took to social media to express their two cents on Snowdrop’s controversy.
According to a Twitter thread by @koreanforeigner, the series gave him “exasperation.” “I had to switch it off. That was absolute trash. Didn't even have time to get into the controversial aspect of the show's setting. The show itself was just trash.”
I just finished watching the first half of "Snowdrop" and I had to switch it off. That was absolute trash. Didn't even have time to get into the controversial aspect of the show's setting. The show itself was just trash.— John Lee (@koreanforeigner) December 18, 2021
Meanwhile, @milejoestar said fans should “enjoy the drama” and not “interact with haters” instead.
We waited for Snowdrop for over year so please just enjoy the dramas and don't interact with haters especially here on Twitter . Fighting will not change anything and will just ruin the whole experience for all of us , let's just focus on Jisoo and her co-star and show them love— 영로Giovanna (@mllejoestar) December 18, 2021
Twitter user @gatamchun criticized Snowdrop’s storyline, revealing her mother participated in the 1987 Democratic Movement. “My mother doesn’t speak of her memories of the 70s-80s too much bc it’s trauma. Full trauma.”
My mother doesn’t speak of her memories of the 70s-80s too much bc it’s trauma. Full trauma. What she has told me is horror.— 아나탈 (@gatamchun) December 15, 2021
“People died. Your friends disappeared and showed up dead the next week. A terrifying time.”
@_La_K_Vilanova_ said they “feel bad” to those who are trying hard to “find something wrong.”
What are haters gone say for Jisoo now lol?. I feel bad for them them they're going to try hard to find something wrong?. Sadly everything was perfect. JISOO ACTRESS IS HERE EVERYONE? #SNOWDROP #JISOO pic.twitter.com/BBN2hYj5KW— JISOO'S_ONE_WAY_TICKET (@_La_K_Vilanova_) December 18, 2021
On the other hand, one of the families of the victims of the 1987 Democracy Movement expressed their dissent against the series in an exclusive report from Newsen. “Relating the 1987 democratization movement with North Korean spies is another persecution against the victims at the time,” their statement read.