Cover Photo: JTBC

Everything you need to know ahead of the release of the highly anticipated JTBC K-drama, Snowdrop, starring Blackpink's Jisoo and Jung Hae In

JTBC has dropped a teaser clip for its upcoming K-drama, Snowdrop, making waves on Twitter (‘Snowdrop coming soon’ trended worldwide) and sending fans into a frenzy. In it, lead actors Jung Hae In and Blackpink’s Kim Ji Soo, better known mononymously as Jisoo, can be seen engaging in a charming dance sequence, giving fans a sneak peek of their upcoming romance.

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According to Snowdrop creators director Jo Hyun Tak and writer Yoo Hyun Mi, the K-drama will centre on "a pure love story that transcends time". Here’s everything you need to know about Snowdrop, set to be one of the most popular K-dramas this year.

The plot

Snowdrop is set in the time of the 1987 Democracy Movement in Seoul, South Korea, a nationwide democracy movement that generated mass protests from June 10 to June 29, 1987. The movement forced the then-authoritarian government to hold democratic elections, sparking the establishment of democratic rule in the Sixth Republic of Korea, the present-day government of South Korea.

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Against the backdrop of the political upheaval, Im, who's secretly an armed spy, is left bloodied after participating in a pro-democracy protest. He's discovered by Eun, who decides to hide him in her dorm room at a prestigious university and tend to his wounds despite facing danger under close surveillance. The pair’s story unfolds and the two would later develop a romantic relationship, and Im would ultimately have to choose between his mission and Eun.

The creators

The series is spearheaded by director Jo Hyun Tak and writer Yoo Hyun Mi. For the uninitiated, Jo and Yoo were also the creators of JBTC’s hit K-drama, Sky Castle, which aired from November 2018 to February 2019. Sky Castle earned positive reviews as a dark comedy that sheds light on some of the furtive and controversial aspects of Korean society, such as its highly competitive education system.

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It became the second-highest-rated drama in Korean cable television history and won multiple awards, including four at the 55th Baeksang Arts Awards: Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best New Actress. With that in mind, expectations for Snowdrop are high and fans are thrilled that such distinguished industry names will be overseeing the project.

The cast

Snowdrop boasts a stellar cast, all successful stars in their own right. Jung plays Im Soo Ho, a college student who was raised in Germany and hides a secret. Jung first gained popularity for his performance in 2017's fantasy romance series, While You Were Sleeping. That same year, he was cast in Prison Playbook, where he received praise for his performance as an imprisoned army captain.

Starring alongside Jung is Jisoo as Eun Young Cho, the cheerful and lovable student who falls in love with Im at first sight. The two leads are joined by:

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Yoo In Na as Kang Chung Ya, a charismatic and skilled surgeon who works at a state-run hospital. The multitalented Yoo has starred in a handful of popular K-dramas including 2010's Secret Garden, 2014's My Love from the Star, and 2016's critically acclaimed Guardian: The Lonely and Great God.

Kim Hye Yoon as Kye Boo Ok, a phone operator who couldn't go to college due to financial issues. Kim made her entry into the Korean entertainment spotlight when she cinched a leading role in Sky Castle. A year later, she starred as a protagonist for the first time in Extraordinary You, which earned her two awards at the MBC Drama Awards.

Jang Seung Jo as Lee Kang Moo, the leader of Agency for National Security Planning's Team One who always follows the rules. A familiar face in major weekend K-dramas, Jang is known for his roles in 2017's Money Flower, 2018's Familiar Wife, and 2018's Encounter.

Jung Yoo Jin as Jang Han Na, an impulsive but passionate National Security Planning agent. Jung made her first K-drama appearance in 2015's Heard It Through the Grapevine. In 2016, she starred alongside Lee Jong Suk and Han Hyo Joo in the fantasy thriller, W – Two Worlds.

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Yoon Se Ah as Pi Seung Hee, the housemother of Hosoo Women's University Dormitory. Veteran actress Yoon has dabbled in various K-drama genres in her illustrious career, from romance to historical, to action and comedy. She also played a leading role in Sky Castle.

The debut

It goes without saying that K-drama fans and Blinks (as Blackpink fans are lovingly called) are collectively excited about Jisoo's first-ever K-drama debut in a major role in Snowdrop. While the Blackpink member has previously made a number of cameo appearances in K-dramas, such as 2015's The Producers and 2019's Arthdal Chronicles (alongside Song Joong Ki), her role in Snowdrop will mark the first time she plays the lead.

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Aside from her work as a Blackpink member, arguably the biggest girl group in the K-pop scene of this generation, Jisoo has also made multiple appearances in several advertisements for major brands including Samsonite (alongside Lee Min Ho), LG Electronics, Samsung, and Nikon.

On March 6, 2021, French luxury fashion house Dior announced it has appointed Jisoo as their new global ambassador for both fashion and beauty, the first Korean celebrity to earn the title. Jisoo also joined Cartier for the brand's Pasha de Cartier digital project in September 2020.

The turmoil

Production for Snowdrop initially began in December 2020. However, in March this year, the project became involved in a heated controversy after information purportedly about the show’s plot and character descriptions were leaked and circulated online. Concerned that Snowdrop will glamourise the 1987 Democracy Movement protests and defame the democracy movement, Korean netizens launched a mass boycott campaign, including an online petition to stop production and a protest truck sent to JTBC's building.

Snowdrop was also compared to 2019's hit series Crash Landing On You, which initially faced criticism for glamorising and romanticising North Korea.

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In response, JTBC firmly denied the controversy, stating that the leaked information was taken out of context. The network described Snowdrop as "a black comedy that satirises the presidential elections taking place in the 1980s under the military regime during the Nouth-South tension on the Korean peninsula and a melodrama about the young men and women who were victims of that situation." The team also stressed that it's a fictional story that'll neither disparage the pro-democracy movement nor glamourise being a spy or working for the National Security Planning, and any names inspired by real-life figures will be changed.

Snowdrop will air as JTBC’s last Saturday-Sunday drama of the year, scheduled to premiere sometime in the later half of 2021.