Recently, a new Korean drama “Snowdrop”(설강화) had a major rollover.
In just a few days, more than 300,000 Korean netizens jointly submitted a petition to the Blue House, demanding that “Snowdrop” be suspended.
And more and more netizens joined the boycott craze.
They boycotted the entire cast, boycotted sponsors, boycotted simultaneous Disney+ streaming…
And the center of all the turmoil is it – “Snowdrop”.
Why does a TV show cause such a big reaction?
In fact, “Snowdrop” attracted a lot of attention at the beginning of production, and was once regarded as one of the most blockbuster productions in 2021.
The drama is directed by Hyeon-tak Jo and written by Hyun-mi Yoo. The last work they worked together was the 2019 Korean drama “SKY Castle”.
The production team is so good, and the cast of “Snowdrop” is also carefully selected.
The male lead Hae-In Jung has appeared in “While You Were Sleeping”, “Prison Playbook” and “One Spring Night”. He also served as the male lead in the Netflix series “D.P Dog Day”, which exploded in September this year.
The heroine Ji-soo Kim is the lead singer and face of the popular girl group BLACKPINK. She is very popular in South Korea and is known as “Little Tang Wei in South Korea”.
The supporting roles of “Snowdrop” are also very eye-catching. They are all familiar faces in popular TV dramas.
In-na Yoo – Played Sunny in Guardian: The Lonely and Great God. Se-ah Yoon – played No Seung-Hye in ”SKY Castle”.
Such a lineup can be described as luxurious top. However, the controversy that accompanies the show has continued.
As early as March this year, the plot and character profiles of “Snowdrop” were circulated on the Internet, and it was pointed out by some Korean netizens that it was suspected of “distorting history”.
After that, more than 220,000 people jointly petitioned on the Blue House website, demanding that the filming of “Snowdrop” be stopped.
But the Blue House rejected the request to stop filming. The reason is that South Korea’s “Broadcasting Law” protects freedom of speech and guarantees the independence of broadcasters.
The storm didn’t end there.
On December 18, “Snowdrop” was officially launched, and it was broadcast simultaneously on JTBC TV and Disney+ streaming in South Korea.
The next day, South Korean netizens submitted a new petition to the Blue House website, demanding that the show be discontinued.
According to regulations, if the petition is signed by more than 200,000 people within a month, the Blue House will respond.
As of the evening of December 21, in just three days, more than 320,000 people have participated in the petition.
Not only that. They also sorted out the sponsorship brands of the show and launched a no-buy campaign.
At present, a considerable number of drama sponsors have publicly apologized and said they will withdraw their sponsorship ads.
They even started boycotting broadcast platforms – JTBC TV and Disney+ streaming.
Unlike the anger of Korean netizens, viewers in other countries said after watching it: It’s very beautiful.
So, what is it that makes Korean netizens so angry?
Let’s talk briefly about the plot of the first two episodes.
The story takes place in Seoul in 1987.
The heroine, Eun Young-ro (Ji-soo Kim), is a freshman in the English Department of Hosui Women’s University. She has a lively and lovely personality and is the atmosphere maker in the bedroom.
Young-ro meets Soo-ho (Hae-In Jung) in a dorm room.
Soo-ho is a German expatriate who has just returned to China and is still a graduate student.
By accident, the two failed to pair successfully in the one-on-one session, but they met again by chance after the friendship ended.
After a chat, they both have a good impression of each other.
During this time, a group of police officers passed by, but Soo-ho suddenly looked flustered.
Young-ro thought he, like his brother, was a college student who was keen on pro-democracy protests.
So she was in a hurry, and the two played a scene of a couple quarreling. Sure enough, they successfully escaped the police and showed their affection.
As they parted, the two agreed to see each other again. But the next day, Young-ro waited all afternoon and didn’t see Soo-ho.
Actually, Soo-ho is not a college student at all. His real identity is a North Korean spy.
The reason why Soo-ho joins the friendship is to please a professor’s assistant, so that he has the opportunity to get close to the professor and then kidnap him.
The mission went well. That night, Soo-ho successfully tricked the professor into the car.
But who knows, the Korean Agency for National Security Planning (hereinafter referred to as ANSP) has long been eyeing him.
The ANSP has been stalking the ambush in secret, in order to wipe out his organization.
Soo-ho is seriously injured in the pursuit by ANSP, and he stumbles into a women’s dormitory to take cover before passing out.
To be honest, I think this plot twist is…a bit silly. However, if you don’t break into the dormitory, how can you meet the heroine.
Sure enough, the heroine lives in this dormitory.
Thinking that Soo-ho was injured during the pro-democracy protest, Young-ro convinces his roommate to help him hide together.
At the same time, the ANSP team leader followed the blood trail to the dormitory building and immediately demanded a blanket search, but was opposed by the housemother, saying that they had to show a search warrant.
Although the ANSP team leader was furious, he immediately sent someone to issue a search warrant.
Young-ro and his roommate took advantage of this time to transfer Soo-ho to the women’s bathroom, successfully evading the ANSP’s search.
Guess where the hero is hiding now.
A thrilling night has passed. But the dormitory was crowded, and Soo-ho was seriously injured, making it difficult to leave.
So Young-ro hid him in the dormitory attic, helping him heal while looking for an opportunity to leave.
So far, this show has a lot of good points. The male and female protagonists are very handsome, and the love part is funny and sweet.
The most special is the depiction of Korean university dormitory life in the 1980s.
It has a strong retro atmosphere, and occasionally makes me have the illusion of entering Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Look, does the dining hall lined up with this line look a bit like the Hogwarts dining room, and does the female housemaster in black robe look a bit like Professor McGonagall.
Even the housemother’s character is a bit like Professor McGonagall. She is very strict and cannot tolerate any irregularities.
The door of the dormitory must be closed when the time arrives. Those who are late will have to sit in the entire dormitory and be kicked out of the school together.
Therefore, every time the door is locked, many students can be seen rushing back to the dormitory.
But in fact, she is also a person who is cold on the outside and hot on the inside.
Facing the sudden intrusion of ANSP, in order to protect the students from harm, she immediately asked everyone to return to the dormitory and lock the door.
Then she justly asked for a search warrant, even though she was shot in the head, she was not afraid. The ANSP team leader had no choice but to immediately send someone to apply for a search warrant.
However, here is the problem.
In the eyes of Korean netizens, this plot seriously distorts history and is suspected of glorifying the police who suppressed the democratization movement.
The 1980s was a very special period in Korean history. Until then, South Korea had been under a military dictatorship.
At that time, in order to suppress the student movement calling for reform, the police often fabricated unprovoked crimes, illegally arrested students, and even tortured them.
Therefore, in the eyes of Koreans, the ANSP team leader at that time would not be so polite when searching. They will only take the housemother as a spy accomplice and take it away directly.
In Korean film and television works, there are many stories about this period. Almost all of them portrayed the police who were suppressing students at that time into a ruthless image.
The most famous of these is Police Officer Cha Dong‑yeong played by Do-won Gwak in “The Attorney.”
In the film, he framed the students as “Communists” and arrested them illegally. He arrogantly broke into classrooms and houses, and no one could stop him.
After capturing the students, Cha Dong-yeong also tortured them with various tortures, forcing them to write down crimes they never committed.
If students were not satisfied with the crimes they wrote down, he would beat the students directly and let them continue to rewrite them.
In fact, Cha Dong‑yeong knew very well that these students were innocent. However, as a policeman brainwashed by the dictatorship, he is full of strong loyalty.
He is willing to do whatever it takes to eliminate any factor that might threaten social stability.
In contrast, the ANSP leader in “Snowdrop” is too weak. Even a little sensible.
No wonder Korean audiences thought it was a glorification of the dictatorship of the time.
And the role of the male protagonist is the focus of public anger. Because he is not an innocent college student, but a real North Korean spy, and he wants to kidnap the school professor.
Therefore, to treat him as a college student and to cover up and hide the heroine is a real crime of covering up.
The ANSP member who went after him, also did not frame and abuse, but did his duty and served the people.
In the eyes of the Korean people, such an arrangement is not only like a whitewashing of the dictatorship that everyone spurned in the past. It is a loud slap in the face for the democratization movement they are proud of.
As we all know, Korean film and television has always been known for its boldness.
It’s not just those movies with deep social issues. Even in idol dramas, sensitive political backgrounds are often used as questions.
For example, “Crash Landing on You” also tells the story of a South Korean woman falling in love with a North Korean soldier.
It creates romance and laughs by taking advantage of the real conflict of the split and confrontation on the Korean peninsula.
Although as a romantic idol drama, its political elements are too ideally diluted, it can still inspire the audience’s beautiful longing for unity.
Another example, this year’s “Youth of May” is also similar to “Snowdrop”. They are also a love idol drama set in the 1980s.
The heroine is a hospital nurse who helped the protesting college students. The father of the male protagonist is the section chief of the security bureau who represents the dictatorship government’s suppression of college students.
From their life, the two sides have decided their fate that it is difficult to be together. At the same time, as witnesses to history, they exposed the pain of that era.
Both of these approaches are safe. Not only did they not provoke a boycott from the audience, but they also gained a good reputation.
Apparently, “Snowdrop” is trying to capture both the inter-Korean confrontation in “Crash Landing on You” and the military-civilian conflict in “Youth of May”.
This makes it difficult to balance the delicate contradiction between the two. In the end, “Snowdrop” caused strong resistance from local audiences and caused huge losses.
However, Korean TV is also very tough. With such a large-scale boycott, JTBC resolutely decided to stop broadcasting.
JTBC responded that “Snowdrop” does not glorify spies and distort history. You can clear up the misunderstanding after watching the whole drama.
And Disney takes it even less seriously. Even adding fuel to the fire, arrangements are already being made for the show to be launched in other regions.
However, as Disney+’s first Korean drama to enter the Korean market, it is also the first work starring Ji-soo Kim, a girl group idol.
“Snowdrop” actually made such a big storm, I really did not expect it.
It seems that Korean film and television do not always get a lot of prizes every time they make a bold operation. I hope that the plot behind “Snowdrop”, as the producer said, can clear up the previous misunderstanding.
Otherwise, I am afraid it will be difficult to appease the angry Korean audience.