JTBC has released an official statement regarding their upcoming K-Drama, Snowdrop, and the growing concerns and accusations regarding the plot.
Snowdrop, which has an estimated release date for the second half of 2021, is a fictional series that will be taking place in the 1980s. The series garnered favorable attention when it was revealed that actor Jung Hae In and BLACKPINK‘s Jisoo have been cast for the lead roles. The plot follows Jung Hae In (Soo Ho), a North Korean spy disguised as a university student, meeting Jisoo (Young Cho), thought to be based on an actual person Chun Young Cho who was an activist against authoritarianism in 1970s Korea.
The series is set in the 1980s Authoritarian era of Korea, when the “Gwangju Uprising” took place. Although this student-led revolution “was brutally repressed and initially unsuccessful in bringing about democratic reform in South Korea,” it is credited to be the “pivotal” movement that eventually paved the way for South Korea’s fight against authoritarian regime and the beginning of the nation’s democracy. As the uprising caused great casualties among citizens and students of Gwangju, it remains a sentimental moment in history for the general Korean public.
In the predawn hours of May 27, [Korean] military forces unleashed tanks, armored personnel carriers, and helicopters that began indiscriminately attacking the city. It took the military only two hours to completely crush the uprising. According to official government figures, nearly 200 people—the great majority of them civilians—were killed in the rebellion, but Kwangju citizens and students insisted that the number was closer to 2,000.
— Professor Han Chong Suk via Britannica
Due to the historical importance of the movement, K-Drama viewers were quick to criticize the series after parts of Snowdrop‘s leaked plot began to circulate online. Viewers accused the series for its alleged distortion of history, as well as the romanticization of North Korean spies.
On their official Twitter account, the broadcasting network addressed the concerns.
JTBC가 드라마 ‘설강화’와 관련된 논란에 대한 입장을 밝힙니다. pic.twitter.com/9prpTGoHfm
— @jtbclove (@jtbclove) March 26, 2021
Here is JTBC’s official statement regarding the controversy over the K-Drama ‘Snowdrop.’
‘Snowdrop’ is not a show that romanticizes or the embraces the spies during the South Korean Democratic Movement.
‘Snowdrop’ is a satirical black comedy about the presidential elections, taking place in the 1980s during a military regime. It is also a melodrama about the sacrifices of the young men and women during this time.
The incomplete portions of the synopsis which has been circulating online were leaked and interpreted out of context. This resulted in a wave of criticisms, but these are based on speculations.
The accusations about the plot portraying ‘North Korean spies as the ones leading the Democratic Movement,’ ‘the character being based on a real person who led the student movement,’ and ‘the show embracing and romanticizing authoritarianism’ are all different from the actual plot of ‘Snowdrop.’ These opinions are far from what the production actually has planned.
JTBC wants to firmly reiterate that the allegations around ‘Snowdrop’ are not aligned with the production’s plans. In addition, we ask that you refrain from making any more reckless criticism about a show that has yet to be released.
— JTBC via @jtbclove/Twitter
These concerns arose during a time when the TV audience and the general Korean public have become extremely more sensitive to the issue of K-Dramas “distorting” the history. Previously, Joseon Exorcist received intense scrutiny for its inaccurate portrayal of South Korean history, resulting in severe backlash from the nation. Following the backlash, SBS decided to officially cancel the drama after airing just two episodes.