Snowdrop, the new Korean drama starring Blackpink member Jisoo and Jung Hae-in, is facing public backlash for alleged ‘historical distortion’ just after the release of two episodes. Viewers have called for the cancellation of the period drama which premiered over the weekend.
The show set during the 1987 presidential elections in South Korea, revolves around the romance between a South Korean university student, played by Jisoo, and a North Korean spy, played by Jung. In the pilot episode, Jisoo’s character mistakenly saves a spy, who is against the pro-democratic movement.
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Soon after the release of the pilot episode, an online petition was posted to the Cheong Wa Dae website, the official South Korean presidential website, calling to halt the broadcasting of the show. As of Wednesday, over 3 lakh people have signed the petition.
The petition read, “The broadcaster previously faced controversy after releasing the (drama’s) synopsis and character descriptions. It claimed that the drama does not centre around the pro-democracy movement and that there are no references about the main characters participating in the democratisation movement. However, the female lead character saves the life of a North Korean spy after mistaking him as an activist in the pro-democracy movement in the first episode.”
The petition also pointed out to the use of the song Solah, The Green Solah — a song symbolic of the pro-democratic protests — during a scene between the North Korean spy and a member of the Agency for National Security Planning in Korea, which was behind the authoritarian regime in South Korea during that time.
“I believe that the content of the drama defames the value and reputation of the democratisation movement,” the petition added.
It is to be noted that 1987 was a key year in the Korean democratic movement as it eventually lead to the establishment of the current republic. Nationwide pro-democratic movements demanding the ruling government to hold elections and institute democratic reforms were held across the country at that period.
According to the petition filed, many activists were tortured and killed after being falsely accused of being North Korean spies at the time. College students, who lead and participated in the movement, were captured, tortured, and even murdered, under the pretense that they were spies.
Soon after the backlash, JTBC — the network backing Snowdrop — issued a statement addressing the controversy. The Korean TV channel denied that there are no spies in the plot who lead the democratisation movement. JTBC also stated that the male and female protagonists were not shown as participating or leading the democratisation movement in the initial episodes and will not do so in the future story.
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“Snowdrop is a creative work that shows the personal stories of individuals who were used and victimised by those in power,” they said and added, that the misunderstanding regarding concerns of historical distortion and disparaging the democratisation movement will be settled through the progress of the drama’s plot.
“The drama includes the production team’s intent of hoping for no repetition of an abnormal era in which individual freedom and happiness are oppressed by unjust power. Although we unfortunately cannot reveal much of the plot ahead of each episode, we ask that you watch over the future progress of the plot,” they announced.
Sponsors back out
With the controversy surrounding the show reaching, several companies who were sponsoring the drama have pulled out their sponsorships. P&J, one of the largest sponsors of Snowdrop, have reportedly announced that they will not be associated with the drama anymore.
Ssarijai, a rice cake company, on December 19, issued an official apology for sponsoring Snowdrop and clarified that they were only aware of the names of the actors and not the plot. “We immediately requested to be dropped from the sponsorship list when we heard that the drama distorted history and romanticized the tortures and murders of student protestors,” they wrote.
Several other companies, including pottery company Dopyeong-Yo, tea brand Teazen, Dyson, Downy, mattress company SONO SEASON, and Hans Electronics, have also announced that they will step away from Snowdrop.
With the online petition against Snowdrop meeting the required threshold of getting more than 2,00,000 signatures, the president’s office is officially required to respond within 30 days.
Snowdrop is written by Yoo Hyun-mi and directed by Jo Hyun-tak, the duo known for their 2018 thriller Korean drama, Sky Castle. The show airs on Saturday and Sunday on JTBC and is also available on Disney+ Hotstar.