Nielsen Korea releases ratings for controversial K-drama ‘Snowdrop’

Nielsen Korea has released the ratings for the first two episodes of the new and controversial Korean drama “Snowdrop” starring Jung Hae-in and BLACKPINK’s Jisoo.

“Snowdrop” premiered on JTBC on Dec. 18 and according to Nielsen Korea, the drama got a nationwide rating of 2.985 percent to place 10th among general programming cable TV shows.

BLACKPINK’s Jisoo (right) helps an injured Jung Hae-in in "Snowdrop" (JTBC).

In the Seoul metropolitan area, the first episode of “Snowdrop” got 3.235 percent to place seventh.

The second episode on Dec. 19 got better ratings. “Snowdrop” received 3.898 percent to place fifth nationwide and garnered 3.687 percent in the Seoul metropolitan area to also wind up in fifth place. The Nielsen Korea website was under maintenance in the last few days, causing a delay in the release of ratings.

Disney Plus, which launched in South Korea last Nov. 12, is also streaming “Snowdrop.”

“Snowdrop” has been under fire from the Korean public since its premiere. The drama has been accused of distorting Korean history by disparaging the pro-democracy movement in the country and beautifying and glorifying North Korean spies and the former Agency for National Security Planning (ANSP), a government agency which was linked to the torture and killings of activists in the past.

In “Snowdrop,” Jung Hae-in is 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-ro, a college student at Hosoo Women’s University.

The two meet during a group blind date after which Eun Young-ro 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-ro and loses consciousness. She finds him in her room and hides him from authorities.

“Snowdrop” has been met with opposition in South Korea. A petition to stop the airing of “Snowdrop,” which was filed on the website of the office of President Moon Jae-in on Dec. 19, has garnered 331,372 signatures as of 8:15 a.m. (Philippine time) on Dec. 22.

It is now No. 2 in the top five petitions with the most number of signatures. The No. 1 is the petition opposing the vaccine pass in South Korea with 380,340 signatures.

This is the second time that “Snowdrop” has been petitioned. Last March 26, during the production stage of the drama, a petition was filed to stop the filming of “Snowdrop,” accusing it of glorifying the ANSP.

In addition to the current petition, hundreds of complaints have also been filed with the Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC), a government agency which “regulates the content of TV programs to guarantee its public nature and fairness and complies with the principle of accountability to the public.”

Companies including those whose advertising model is Jung Hae-in have pulled out their advertising support from “Snowdrop.”

JTBC issued a statement to defend “Snowdrop” from mounting criticisms. It said “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.”