Controversial Korean drama ‘Snowdrop’ gets lowest rating to date

Korean drama “Snowdrop,” starring actor Jung Hae-in and BLACKPINK’s Jisoo, received its lowest rating to date. 

Episode 4 of “Snowdrop” aired on Dec. 25 as part of the three-day special airing of the drama by JTBC to temper the criticisms and opposition by the Korean public. 

Jung Hae-in (left) and BLACKPINK's Jisoo in "Snowdrop" (JTBC)

According to Nielsen Korea, “Snowdrop” episode 4 got a nationwide rating of 1.689 percent in South Korea, its lowest among the four episodes. This is lower than the rating of 1.853 percent for episode 3 which aired on Dec. 24. 

“Snowdrop” premiered on JTBC (and streamed on Disney Plus) on Dec. 18. Episode 1 got a rating of 2.985 percent while episode 2 received 3.898 percent. JTBC is a general programming cable TV channel. 

After the first episode aired, a national petition to stop the airing of “Snowdrop” was filed on Dec. 19 on the website of the office of President Moon Jae-in, accusing the drama of distorting Korean history by disparaging the pro-democracy movement in the country and beautifying the image of 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. 

The national petition has garnered 349,752 signatures or recommendations as of past 9 a.m. on Dec. 26. Under the rules, if a petition reaches 200,000 signatures, government officials and the Blue House (the office of the president) are mandated to make a reply.  

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-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 ANSP agents. 

Several actions have been done to stop the airing of “Snowdrop.” 

- At least 500 complaints were filed with the Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC) to review “Snowdrop.” 

- The youth group The Declaration of Global Citizen in Korea has filed an injunction against “Snowdrop” before the Seoul Western District Court on Dec. 22 to stop its airing. 

- On Dec. 21, a netizen filed a complaint with Korea’s Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission against “Snowdrop” screenwriter Yoo Hyun-mi and director Jo Hyun-tak for violation of the country’s National Security Act, which aims”to secure the security of the State and the subsistence and freedom of nationals, by regulating any anticipated activities compromising the safety of the State.” Under Article 7 of the National Security Act, “Any person who praises, incites or propagates the activities of an anti-government organization, a member thereof or of the person who has received an order from it, or who acts in concert with it, or propagates or instigates a rebellion against the State, with the knowledge of the fact that it may endanger the existence and security of the State or democratic fundamental order, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than seven years.”

- Lee Kyung-ran, director of the Lee Han-yeol Memorial Museum, likened “Snowdrop” to glorifying the Nazis, who were mainly responsible for the Holocaust, or the killing of about six million Jews in Europe in the 1940s during World War II. Lee Han-yeol was a student at Yonsei University in the 1980s. In a demonstration on campus on June 9, 1987, Lee Han-yeol was struck in the head by a police tear gas canister. He died on July 5, 1987. He said, “First, the pro-democracy movement, including the Gwangju Uprising, is a resistance movement against the dictator’s massacre of citizens and seizing power, and associating it with North Korea in the story itself is a distortion of history and an insult. There is no statute of limitations on the pursuit of Nazi deeds and the punishment of Nazi worship. Likewise, those who distort and insult the Gwangju Uprising and the pro-democracy movement should also be punished. The current controversy is like an act of glorifying the Nazis.”

Last Dec. 23, JTBC announced the airing of episodes 3 to 5 on Dec. 24 to 26 of “Snowdrop,” a Saturday-Sunday drama 

“The controversy related to ‘Snowdrop’ is still ongoing. We believe that the misunderstandings related to the story are brewing because the viewers cannot simultaneously grasp all the narrative from the beginning. So we decided to pre-air more episodes to quell their worries,” said JTBC, according to Korea JoongAng Daily. 

JTBC said the three episodes will reveal the background of North Korean agent Im Soo-ho (played by Jung Hae-in) who is sent to South Korea and unfair power in South Korea, which will reveal the possibility of the initial setting. 

It said that in the drama, it is revealed that the ANSP is the one that brings North Korean spies to South Korea and the leaders of South and North Korea begin to conspire for power and money. The upcoming episodes will also reveal the story of young people caught up in secret operations. 

“JTBC respects various views and opinions about content. In order to hear the opinions of viewers, we are listening to various voices on the viewers’ bulletin board and real-time chat window on the portal site. This special program is also a choice to resolve the concerns of viewers. We will continue to listen to your opinions and do our best to create good content,” said JTBC. 

Episode 5 of “Snowdrop” will air on Dec. 26.