Snowdrop recieves backlash for distorting history, with over 200,000 signatures asking for its cancellation 

Snowdrop is Jisoo's debut acting project (Image via JTBC)
Snowdrop is Jisoo's debut acting project (Image via JTBC)

The Jisoo and Jung Hae-in starrer JTBC show, Snowdrop, has thousands of fans eagerly awaiting the next episode. However, the show has an equal, if not larger, number of detractors, with over 200,000 already having signed a petition to cancel the drama.

After ep 1, a petition to halt broadcast JTBC #snowdrop was up & as of 3.30pm KST it has collected almost 97k signs. The petition mentions how the prod. team assured there won't be any historical distortion, however even the ep 1 has proved the statement wrong#KoreanUpdates RZ

Ever since Snowdrop’s synopsis was revealed, the drama has been under constant scrutiny, especially by Korean viewers. Set in a particularly tumultuous period in Korean history - the 1980s, which saw the nation undergo a series of movements, including the June Democratic Struggle - the show narrates the love story of a female student and a male spy working undercover in South Korea.


Snowdrop makers were initially accused of distorting historical events, leading to a lot of protest. At that time, JTBC had stated:

"There is no setting in the script for the male and female protagonists to participate or lead the democratization movement."

The pilot episode, which aired on December 18, 2021, though, has not gone down well with several Korean viewers, and appears to have confirmed their worst fears.

The petition was filed after two episodes of Snowdrop aired

According to the Blue House Petition, which has already collected more than 200,000 signatures, the first episode of the much hyped drama showed the female lead, played by BLACKPINK leader Jisoo, allegedly saving a spy who is against the pro-democracy movement.

The petition, which was started on December 19, after the first two episodes were aired, has criticized Snowdrop for distorting fairly recent history.

I read threads on why South Korea s are mad on Snowdrop that drove them to create a petition to Blue House. It is severe issue. It involves history, historical figures and govt bodies at that time. JTbC has been warned to change the plot and character description but they didn’t.
History Distortion is s Big No. Regardless it’s fiction. South Koreans has every right to be mad at Snowdrop because their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents were involved during 1987 democratic movement and fought the dictatorship govt. international fans shouldn’t judge them.
Gwangju Uprising 1980 and June Democratic Movement 1987 are two important events in SK history that led to the democracy govt they have today. Many youths were jailed, kidnapped and killed to give their country freedom. So, for the writer to glorify NSA and NK spy is so wrong.

The petition mentioned a scene where Jung Hae-in’s character, who is a spy, is being chased down by the male sub-lead from the Agency for National Security Planning. What stood out for Korean viewers was the background song - the drama played a historically significant song that used to symbolize the pro-democracy movement:

“a song that emphasizes the pain and victory of those who are carrying out the democratization movement.”

Given that many of the Korean viewers of Snowdrop had parents and grandparents, if not themselves, involved in the 1987 movement, it is no surprise that the depiction has hit a raw nerve. The role of Jung Hae-in’s character as a spy mistaken for a pro-democratic leader has especially been seen as insensitive, since the reality was the other way around.

In the 1980s, the South Korean President at the time had claimed the protests as a “communist movement” and had used it as an excuse to crack down on students and activists, declaring them spies. Several innocent students and protestors were tortured and arrested by the then government, under accusations of being a spy.

Director: we did not glorify the NSA!Comment after Ep. 1:“The NSA in this show actually runs around trying to catch North Korean spies, they leave activist students alone, they actually go to get warrants and follow legal procedure.WHAT ERA AND COUNTRY IS THIS NSA FROM????”…
The NSA my parents knew:Arrested and tortured college students to confess the locations of other activist students. Forced students’ heads into water baths until one of them suffocated and died in the interrogation room. Tried to falsify his autopsy. Silenced the doctors.

The petition says:

"At the time of the democratization movement, there were victims of the movement who were tortured and killed as spies without any basis, and we think that making a drama with such content despite these historical facts would definitely undermine the value of the democratization movement."

Several petitioners were also concerned about International viewers learning about Korean democracy via Snowdrop, which is allegedly an incorrect portrayal.

"We think that it should not be aired any more because it can instill a false view on the history of the democratization movement in many foreigners."

Many brands have pulled out of Snowdrop

In light of the petition, several brands have distanced themselves from the project, stating that they were not shown the script prior to the airing.

Brands release apology following #snowdrop 1st ep broadcast:Teazen (tea, no direct sponsor, only expose drama ads)Dopyoungyo (pottery)GANISONG (fashion)Ssarijai (rice cake)Hans Plus (shopping mall)They (exc. Teazen) admit to not received the script -c-#KoreanUpdates RZ
Tea brand Teazen just posted an apology as well. They had not sponsored the production but had a basic exposure ad, which they were cancelling.…

Dopyeongyu, a ceramics manufacturer, officially announced:

"We are a small operating company without any political color. We have not received any prior notice of the drama script or plot, and we have not been able to review the sponsorship.”"

The company has reportedly asked JTBC to remove the company logo and return products.

Ceramics brand ********** posted an apology in their blog for providing products to Snowdrop. They have requested their logo be struck from the credits and their products returned.

Organic grain brand Ssarijae Village went so far as to state that they were ashamed that their product had been used in Snowdrop. The heads of the company said that they themselves had been part of pro-democracy protests in their youth, and the distortion had come as an unpleasant surprise.

The grain company rep was particularly apologetic. They were ashamed that their products had been used in Snowdrop as they themselves had been a part of democratization protests in their youth. They added they had also signed the petition.

On December 20, P&J Group revoked its sponsorship of Snowdrop, stating:

"We invested without knowing the details of the plot thinking it would have a good advertising effect. I did not think I should investigate further after being reassured by the staff of the drama saying problematic scenes have been edited out to pass the broadcasting standards."

The brand representative continued:

"After learning more about the issue we have now requested to take our sponsorship off and they have confirmed to take our name out from the third episode."

While international fans of Snowdrop have been voicing their support for the show, most Korean viewers expressed their disapproval.

This is not the first time people have protested against a show due to historical distortion.

In March 2021, SBS’ Joseon Exorcist was canceled after only two episodes, due to historical inaccuracies and nationwide protest. Incidentally, the petition against Joseon Exorcist had collected only a few hundred signatures more than Snowdrop has, till now.

Given how the controversy is escalating, things don’t look very good for Jisoo’s debut drama.

Edited by Rhythm Bhatia
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