The Historical Controversy of Jisoo’s Kdrama, Snowdrop

**Many of the points in this article have been taken from a reddit post from a Korean person who has put in there own thoughts and info about history surrounding the show (u/99jlj). While this article is to give basic overview of the problem, please visit the link below for more in-depth info about the situation

Even with the new excitement for Kim Jisoo from K-pop group Blackpink to finally start her acting career with a female lead role, there is prominent criticism against her drama, Snowdrop, for inaccurately portraying major historical events. How can a drama so anticipated be known for making historically known hate groups likable?

Snowdrop takes place during the dictatorial leadership of South Korea in the year 1987. Actor Jung Hae In plays the role of Lim Soo Ho, a Central/government intelligence agent or “Ahn-ghi-boo” (안기부), who meets Eun Ryeong Ro, a first-year student at Hosu women’s University. The problem with the drama is that they create a likable image for these agents, saying that their goal is to find North Korean spies when the truth was that it was an excuse to torture many people, including college students who were protesting. These agents killed people on the spot the moment they thought someone could be a spy (or really, was just against them). This character would meet Jisoo when she attempts to hide him in her college dorm and later start a romantic relationship.

People also saw problems with other details in the 1st episode. The show also used names very similar to those of people involved in actual events during the period. Instead, the events were twisted to support the killing of these “North Korean spies.” People also found discomfort when a song significant to the democratic movement played when a spy was being chased down.

Many find it disappointing that a well-established actor like Jung Hae In or Jisoo, knowing it’s her first drama, would take on a role for a drama without understanding the history of the portrayal, but with that said, many people also think that there must be a reason and that we don’t have the whole storyline to make assumptions. Another factor to consider is that people who went through those events around 30 years ago are still around today, meaning the misrepresentation in the drama would directly invalidate their experiences. An example of this is with the Park Jong Cheol foundation made in honor of pro-democratic activists in Seoul University who said, “it is a distortion and an offense….this is an issue that everyone involved in this drama should reflect on.” While many fans of the actor say that his and Jisoo’s acting was well-done, the storyline and the topic choice were a matter of poor taste, considering the circumstances.

Now the question is, why is the drama still running? A petition on Blue House, Korea’s official executive office website, garnered more than 200,00 signatures in hopes of having the show canceled. As of now, many sponsors have dropped out, but the one keeping the drama airing is Disney+. JTBC, the company that produced the drama, signed a contract that makes it so that Disney must continue airing the show. Disney has mentioned that they are looking into the complaints, but many are hopeless as previous cases of harming different cultural groups, like the live-action Mulan movie and its filming near concentration camps for Uigurs, have not been correctly handled. JTBC has mentioned that the misunderstandings will be clarified later when the plot focuses more on the characters than the politics.

With this considered, many still feel that with the 5-7 episodes released, it is still very early in the show to know how the plot will play out. However, many people have shown disapproval from the first episode and suggest that continuing to watch will continue contributing to the distortion of history and the efforts involved in Korea’s democratic movement.

Works Cited

Snowdrop (Korean Drama) – Asianwiki.

“Petition To Shut Down ‘Snowdrop’ Broadcaster Launched As Backlash Mounts”. NME, 2021, Accessed 2 Jan 2022.

“Over 20K People Sign Petition To Cancel K-Drama “Snowdrop” For Historical Distortion”. Hype Malaysia, 2021, Accessed 2 Jan 2022.