Snowdrop's writer Yoo Hyun Mi under fire for allegedly taking inspiration from real life muscian and activist Yun Insang

Yoo Hyun Mi (left) has written Skycastle in the past. (Image via JTBC/Chosun)
Yoo Hyun Mi (left) has written Skycastle in the past. (Image via JTBC/Chosun)

JTBC’s Snowdrop's troubles seem to be never ending as the latest criticism against the show’s writer Yoo Hyun Mi has landed the show in hot water.

director jo hyun tak and writer yoo hyun mi #설강화 #SNOWDROP

Ever since its synopsis was revealed, Snowdrop has received tremendous backlash, and has been accused of distorting history. The release of the first two episodes of the much hyped show has only aggravated the situation, with a petition going around asking for Snowdrop’s cancellation.

The most recent cause of concern for viewers of the show is the apparent inspiration behind the characters.

Fans taken aback by startling similarity between male lead Im Soo Ho's father and a real life figure

South Korean writer Yoo Hyun Mi is no rookie, having been a part of mega-successful K-dramas like Skycastle and Home Sweet Home. Her work in JTBC’s Snowdrop, however, has angered several viewers for a variety of reasons.

After the first two episodes were aired, viewers, especially those interested in South Korean history from the 1980s, were startled to find similarities between other characters on screen and real life figures.

Among those that stood out was the uncanny resemblance between the male lead’s father, and the South Korean musician and composer, Yun Isang.

Yun Insang is a famous musician and democracy supporter. (Image via Chosun)
Yun Insang is a famous musician and democracy supporter. (Image via Chosun)

Snowdrop gave an insight into Jung Hae In’s character’s background in episode 2, revealing that his father was a famous musician in Berlin. The father was described as a superlative musician, and a winner of multiple medals. In real life, Yun Insang won the coveted Goethe medal and multiple other music awards.

The similarity grew more stark when it was revealed that the father was unable to return to his native South Korea and was forced to stay in Berlin, forcing the male lead to travel to South Korea all alone.

Yun Insang, too, was banned from entering South Korea. In 1967, the musician, while in Berlin with his family, was falsely accused of espionage by the South Korean government, and was kidnapped by the secret service. He was not the only one to suffer this fate as several other Korean-German students were accused of the same.

Yun Isang was eventually tortured and forced to falsely confess. He was then imprisoned, and was only released after many artists around the world signed a petition. From 1973 onwards, he actively called for democratization of South Korea.

To speak plainly- Countless innocent activist students were kidnapped arrested tortured for being/working with North Korean spies- However, #Snowdrop chose to show an activist student decide to help an actual North Korean spy, thinking he’s an activist
- Conclusion: #Snowdrop asks the question, “well maybe the NSA had a point? What if there really WERE North Korean spies hiding among students? And the students themselves were too stupid to know? What if only the NSA were really able to catch these spies?”

While Yoo Hyun Mi has not commented on the incident, South Korean viewers of Snowdrop have not taken the resemblance kindly. The fact that Yoo Hyun Mi chose real-life figures who were falsely accused of espionage as inspiration behind characters who are spies masquerading as Democratic Party supporters is being seen as alarming and problematic.

Snowdrop's writer Yoo Hyun Mi was earlier criticized for naming the lead Young Cho

Even before the pilot episode aired, Yoo Hyun Mi was criticized for initially naming the lead character, played by BLACKPINK’s Jisoo, Young Cho. Young Cho, which is not a very common Korean name, happens to be the name of a very popular figure during the 1987 Democratic Movements in South Korea, during which Snowdrop is set. While it was never explicitly stated whether this was intentional or merely a coincidence, South Korean viewers did not take it very kindly.

The real Young Cho. (Image via Wikipedia Commons)
The real Young Cho. (Image via Wikipedia Commons)

The Young Cho in real life was a pro-democracy activist, who had suffered a lot for her nation’s freedom. Incidentally, her husband was also an active participant in the movement, and was tortured to death under false accusations of being a North Korean spy.

The family of Park Jong-cheol, who was the student who died after brutal water torture by the NSA, has spoken out about how #Snowdrop is causing harm to victims of the NSA.
Park’s family point out that there are still-living families of those who were accused of being North Korean spies and tortured, and the drama recreates the narrative that was used against victims

Ironically, in Snowdrop, the person opposite Young Cho, played by Jung Hae In, is implied to be a North Korean spy, and is only disguised as a student protestor. Naturally, the naming of the lead Young Cho, given the plot of the drama, was seen as disrespectful, and the name was eventually changed to Young Ro. The rest of the story, however, remained untouched.

Incidentally, Yoo Hyun Mi herself is a student of Ewha Women’s University, which was one of the main centers of the pro-democracy movement of 1987. The university in Snowdrop, Hosu Women’s University, has clearly taken inspiration from Ewha.

Yoo Hyun Mi has also tenured as a professor in Gwangju, which was the location of one of the most horrific massacres against democratic movement supporters in history- the Gwangju Uprising of 1980.

Edited by Danyal Arabi
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