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Calls to halt JTBC ‘Snowdrop’ mount after two episodes

Drama series accused of distorting history

“Snowdrop” (JTBC)
“Snowdrop” (JTBC)

JTBC drama series “Snowdrop” has come under fire for alleged distortions of history after having aired just two episodes.

“Snowdrop” centers around the romance between a North Korean spy and South Korean university student during the 1987 presidential election.

An online petition was posted to the Cheong Wa Dae website on Sunday demanding a halt to the broadcasting of the drama.

“The broadcaster previously faced controversy after releasing the (drama) synopsis and character descriptions. It claimed that the drama does not center around the pro-democracy movement and that there are no references about the main characters participating in the democratization movement. However, the female lead character saves the life of a North Korean spy after mistaking him as an activist in the pro-democracy movement in the first episode,” the petition reads.

“Many activists were tortured and died after being falsely accused of being North Korean spies. I believe that the content of the drama defames the value and reputation of the democratization movement.”

The petition had garnered more than 200,000 signatures as of Monday, meeting the threshold to officially require Cheong Wa Dae to respond to the petition within 30 days.

Meanwhile, the local cable channel turned its viewers’ bulletin board to private mode online, allowing only the author and bulletin board manager to see the contents. This has further stoked outrage among many people online, who feel the broadcaster does not wish to communicate with the viewers.
A screenshot shows the JTBC viewers’ bulletin board for “Snowdrop” restricted to private mode Monday. (JTBC)
A screenshot shows the JTBC viewers’ bulletin board for “Snowdrop” restricted to private mode Monday. (JTBC)

Concerns regarding historical distortion are neither new nor limited to “Snowdrop.”

In March, a JTBC romance-drama was criticized and asked to halt its production for “insulting the foundation of our country” in an online petition to the Cheong Wa Dae website.

With an attempt to show that the everything in the series, except for its historical background, was fiction, the broadcaster changed the original name of Eun Young-cho, a character played by Blackpink’s Jisoo, to Eun Young-ro, intending to show that the name was not in reference to Chun Young-cho, a real-life pro-democracy activist.

Though director Jo Hyun-tak said during an online press conference Thursday that “Snowdrop” is a story of individuals and is not about politics or ideology, criticism is not likely to cease any time soon as even the small details of the drama are being scrutinized and attacked with groundless assumptions.

Several companies, including rice cake company Ssarijai, Heungil Furniture and more, have asked to remove or minimize their product exposure in the drama series.

“After watching the first episode of ‘Snowdrop,’ we also thought that the viewers may become concerned about the historical controversy. So we asked the drama team to stop the sponsorship and our products will not appear from the third episode,” a Ssarijai official told The Korea Herald on Monday, adding that it would deliberate more thoroughly in sponsoring TV dramas and films in the future.

It remains to be seen whether the 16-part series will meet a similar fate as SBS drama “Joseon Exorcist,” which earlier this year was canceled midway after criticisms snowballed concerning historical inaccuracies and distortions in the first two episodes.

The Saturday-Sunday drama “Snowdrop” airs at 10:30 p.m. on JTBC and is available on the video streaming platform Disney+.



By Lee Si-jin (sj_lee@heraldcorp.com)
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