‘Snowdrop’ starring Jisoo of BLACKPINK: release date, plot details, cast and everything we know so far

From the K-pop star's casting to the controversy about the drama's treatment of history

In 2020, it was confirmed that BLACKPINK member Jisoo will take a big step forward in her entertainment career: her first lead role as an actress.

The singer, real name Kim Ji-soo, will star in the Korean drama Snowdrop alongside D.P. star Jung Hae-in. This is her biggest role yet, following cameos in 2015’s The Producers and 2019’s Arthdal Chronicles.

Snowdrop will tell the story of two college students caught up in a romance in South Korea circa 1987 – a pivotal year in the country’s history that saw a nationwide mass movement that forced the ruling government to hold elections. It’s being produced by South Korean television network JTBC. Here’s all we know about the show so far.

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  • Official release date for Snowdrop confirmed

Who is part of the Snowdrop cast?

Jung Hae-in and Jisoo will play the main characters in Snowdrop. The former will portray a graduate student with a secret past, while the latter will be a university student who lives in an all-female dormitory.

They will be joined by Jang Seung-jo, who will play the leader of the Agency for National Security Planning (ANSP); Yoon Se-ah, playing the housemother of the women’s dormitory; Kim Hye-yoon, playing a phone operator; Jung Yoo-jin, playing an ANSP agent; and Yoo In-na as a surgeon working at a state-run hospital.

Is there a release date for Snowdrop?

Yes, an official release date for the series has finally been confirmed.

On November 9, JTBC announced with a brand-new poster, featuring the two leads, that Snowdrop will make its premiere on the channel on December 18. The poster also confirms that the show will air on the weekends at 10:30PM KST.

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On August 18, JTBC shared a promotional reel for its slate of upcoming shows, including Snowdrop. While a firm release date was not announced then, the network confirmed that the show will be its final Saturday-Sunday drama of the year, hinting at a fourth quarter release.

What is the plot of Snowdrop?

Snowdrop is set during South Korea in 1987 – a historic year in the country’s history, as protesters forced a then-authoritarian government to hold democratic elections and later enforce constitutional reforms during the June 29 Declaration.

After being attacked at a protest, a graduate student (played by Jung Hae-in) seeks refuge in a female dormitory at the Hosoo Women’s University, where he encounters a woman (played by Jisoo) who helps hide him. The two later develop a romantic relationship during a turbulent time in the country.

Blackpink Jisoo JTBC drama series Snowdrop
Jisoo of BLACKPINK performing at Coachella 2019. Credit: Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella

What is the controversy surrounding Snowdrop?

The Snowdrop controversy began after information purportedly about the show’s plot and characters circulated online in March 2021.

The alleged show synopsis and character info claimed that the male lead of Snowdrop – who would be romantically linked to Jisoo’s character – would be a North Korean spy who infiltrated South Korea’s democratic movement.

Another character, who was described as “straightforward and just”, would be part of the authoritarian Agency for National Security Planning (NSP). The NSP, which has been known under several names, has a decades-long history of being used to take down political opponents and pro-democracy activists.

It was also claimed that Jisoo’s character would be named Young-Cho – which netizens pointed out was similar to Chun Young-cho, a real-life historical figure who participated in South Korea’s movement for democracy in the 1980s.

Based on these purported plot and character details, netizens then accused JTBC of glamorising the NSP and disparaging South Korea’s democracy movement. According to Straits Times, a protest truck was sent to JTBC’s building in Seoul on March 30.

blackpink getty images roger kisby
BLACKPINK. Credit: Roger Kisby/Getty Images

In a statement on March 26, reported by Soompi, JTBC said that the criticism of Snowdrop stemmed from “certain sentences that were taken out of context from parts of an incomplete synopsis that were leaked online”.

The network stressed that Snowdrop is “not a drama that disparages the pro-democracy movement or glamorises being a spy or working for the NSP”. Instead, it described the show as “a black comedy that satirises the presidential elections taking place in the 1980s under a military regime during the North-South tension on the Korean peninsula. It is also a melodrama about the young men and women who were victims of that situation”.

In another statement released March 30, via Koreaboo, JTBC officially revealed some details of Snowdrop‘s plot in a bid to further counter online criticism. The network said the lead characters won’t “participate in or lead the Democratic Movement”, and that the show will centre on the political turbulence surrounding the presidential election rather than the pro-democracy movement.

“A fictional story will be told surrounding the military regime, the National Security Agency, and how they possess vested interests, conspiring with the North Korean dictatorship to maintain power,” the network wrote.

Snowdrop will have characters of a North Korean agent and a National Security Agent who pursues him, the network said – characters that “will highlight the unscrupulous greed for power to reform the regime, as well as a critical view of the National Security Agency that actively supports this”.

The National Security Agent character will also be a “disillusioned” person who “sticks to his principles and will see whatever he thinks is right to the end, while turning his back on the corrupt organisation”.

JTBC also said that though the activist Chun Young-Cho had “no relevance” to Jisoo’s character, the network would be renaming the female lead.

As of April 12, over 200,000 people have signed a petition to Korea’s Blue House, or Cheong Wa Dae, calling for a halt to the production of Snowdrop. As the petition garnered more than 200,000 signatures within a month, it reached the threshold for an official response from the presidential office, Korea Herald reports.

Blackpink Jisoo JTBC drama series Snowdrop Jung Hae-In
Jung Hae-In. Credit: Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

On July 28, Korea’s Blue House released a statement in response to the aforementioned petition to halt the production of the Snowdrop series. Blue House noted that JTBC – which will air the show – has clarified that the petition stems from “fragmentary information such as an incomplete synopsis and parts from the character descriptions”.

Blue House’s statement also reveals that shows that “violate regulations, such as by excessive distortion of history” will require deliberation by the Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC).

Due to delays in forming the current KCSC committee, Snowdrop will continue production, but will be reviewed at a later date in accordance to the complaints submitted thus far, according to Blue House’s statement.

Who directed and wrote Snowdrop?

The drama was directed by Jo Hyun-tak and written by Yoo Hyun-mi, who are best known for their work in 2018’s Sky Castle. They also worked with Kim Hye-yoon on that series, where she played Kang Ye-seo.

When did filming for Snowdrop start?

Filming for Snowdrop started in October 2020. The phrase “Actress Jisoo” trended on Twitter as fans wished the BLACKPINK singer luck on her first day of shooting. Filming for Snowdrop came to a stop a month later after an unnamed supporting actor reportedly came into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

In December 2020, Jisoo confirmed on Instagram that the cast and crew were back on set.

Is the official poster for Snowdrop out?

Yes. On October 5, JTBC revealed the first romantic poster for Snowdrop. The image depicts Jisoo and Jung Hae-in’s characters dancing together under a spotlight at an empty ballroom. On the poster are also the words, “The blooming of radiant first love”, as translated by Soompi. It also confirms that the K-drama is expected to arrive in December 2021, though an official release date has not yet been announced.

Are there any images from Snowdrop?

As of writing, there aren’t any official stills from Snowdrop yet – though MyDramaList and fan accounts like @snowdrop_drama on Instagram have compiled paparazzi shots from the shoot.

In February, the first set of photos of Jung Hae-in and Jisoo on set surfaced on social media. According to several fansites, the pair were spotted filming at the Hapcheon Image Theme Park.

Is the trailer for Snowdrop out?

JTBC has, so far, released four teasers for Snowdrop. The latest, which dropped on December 5, features dramatic and violent previews from the upcoming series, including scenes with actors Yoon Se-ah and Yoo In-na.

Meanwhile, the November 28 clip showcases the complicated romance in the series between Jung Hae-in and BLACKPINK member Jisoo, and previews how things could get dark in the upcoming K-drama.

The second, which was released on November 19, focuses on Young-ro (played by Jisoo) recording a confessional on a cassette player. “I used to wonder what people meant when they talked about ‘falling in love at first sight’. But the moment I saw him, I knew right away,” she says while covering herself with a quilt.

Meanwhile, the first teaser featured the couple sitting in a storage room full of old furniture and knick-knacks as they listen to the 1987 hit ‘Past Days’ by singer Yoo Jae-ha on the radio. Immersed in the music, they begin sharing tender looks, and a montage of romantic moments from the series flash across the screen.

How many episodes will Snowdrop have?

There’s no official announcement yet about the episode list and the run time of each episode.

How can I watch Snowdrop?

The drama is set to premiere on South Korean network JTBC. It will also be made available on Disney+, which introduced a total of seven new Korean titles to its platform ahead of its launch in South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan in November. The titles include Snowdrop, as well as K-drama originals like Moving, Sixth Sense Kiss and the Daniel Kang-led Rookies.

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