JTBC will not cancel Korean drama ‘Snowdrop’ despite mounting criticisms

Korean TV channel JTBC will not cancel the drama “Snowdrop,” starring Jung Hae-in and BLACKPINK’s Jisoo, despite growing backlash from the Korean public.

“Snowdrop,” which aired its first two episodes on Dec. 18 and 19 on JTBC and OTT platform Disney Plus, has faced criticisms after Koreans accused it of distorting history with regard to the pro-democracy movement in South Korea in the 1980s and beautifying the former Agency for National Security Planning (ANSP), which sas linked to torture and killings of Korean activists in the past.

Jung Hae-in and BLACKPINK’s Jisoo in “Snowdrop" (JTBC)

It is a drama about political conspiracy and espionage against the backdrop of the 1987 Korean presidential election and a romance that blooms amid it.

In “Snowdrop,” Jung Hae-in plays the role of Im Soo-ho, a 27-year-old graduate student who is a North Korean spy sent to South Korea to do a mission. Jisoo is 20-year-old Eun Young-cho, a college student at Hoosoo Women’s University.

The two meet during a group blind date after which Jisoo falls in love with him. Six months later, during a mission, a bloodied Im Soo-ho is chased by agents from the ANSP. He climbs into the dormitory room of Eun Young-cho and loses consciousness. She finds him and hides him from authorities.

A petition to stop the airing of “Snowdrop” was filed last Dec. 19 on the website of the office of President Moon Jae-in. Viewers also sent nearly 500 complaints to the Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC) requesting the agency to review the drama and companies have pulled out their sponsorships for the drama.

JTBC, which blocked viewers’ comments by hiding the content on the “Snowdrop” bulletin board and blocking real-time chats on Naver, has defended the drama from criticisms.

“After the broadcast of ‘Snowdrop,’ the controversy has not subsided based on content that is different from the facts,” said JTBC.

“First of all, the background and motifs of major events in the drama ‘Snowdrop’ are the presidential election during the military regime. Against this background, it contains a fictional story that those in power must join forces with the North Korean regime to maintain power. ‘Snowdrop’ is a creation that shows the personal stories of those who were used and sacrificed by those in power,” it said.

JTBC explained that “there is no spy leading the democratization movement in ‘Snowdrop.’ The setting in which the male and female leads participated in or led the democratization movement did not appear in first and second episodes, nor does it exist anywhere in future script.”

“Most of the misunderstandings due to concerns about ‘history distortion’ and ‘disparagement of the democratization movement,’ which many have pointed out, will be resolved in the drama’s progress,” it added.

It said, “It contains the production team's intention not to repeat the abnormal era in which individual freedom and happiness were suppressed by unjust power. It is unfortunate that we cannot reveal much of the plots before the episode airs, but we ask you to keep an eye on progress.”

“In addition, JTBC plans to listen to various voices by opening the real-time chat window on the portal site and on the official viewers’ bulletin board to hear valuable opinions about content. The core values ​​that JTBC pursues are freedom of content creation and independence of production. Based on this, JTBC will continue to do its best to show good works in the future,” it said.

As of 2:20 p.m. on Dec. 21, the petition to stop the airing of “Snowdrop” has garnered 315,042 signatures.