Editor’s note: Since Snowdrop’s beginning, the show has not been without controversy. The most notable of which is the backlash over what many claim to be the drama’s alleged revisionist approach to South Korea’s democratic uprising in the 1980s, a movement against dictatorship marked by blood and loss. Following its premiere on December 18, a petition to stop the broadcast of the drama has gathered upwards of 300,000 signatures. Anyone going into Snowdrop should, therefore, watch it with a grain of salt.
Right off the gate, episode six of Snowdrop picks up the pace, presenting multiple confrontations to us simultaneously. Soo-ho (Jung Hae-in) and his team get ambushed while trying to escape the Hosu Women’s Dorm from the emergency exit. Unbeknownst to them, Chang-soo (Heo Joon-ho) desperately asks the South Korean forces outside the emergency exit to stand down lest Soo-ho and his team turn on the hostages, but the damage is done – the latter have retreated and made their way back to the dorm, seething about the betrayal.
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Their retreat also puts a dent in Kang-moo’s (Jang Seung-jo) plans, who broke free and was leading the girls out of the building. After a bloody confrontation, one of Soo-ho’s teammates incapacitates Kang-moo and is about to shoot him, but is talked down by Soo-ho himself.
With Professor Han I-seop murdered at the hands of North Korean forces and Operation Phoenix sabotaged, Tae-il (Park Sung-woong) – much to the resistance and chagrin of Chang-soo – orders for the Professor to be framed as a defector to justify the confrontation at sea.
Back inside the cafeteria, Soo-ho notices Yeong-ro’s (BLACKPINK’s Jisoo) hand is bleeding. He asks for her to accompany him with the first aid box to help his teammate in the next room. On the way back, he bandages her injured hand and reveals to her that if the South Korean forces ask for a hostage to be released, he will let her go to consider them “even” for everything she did for him. He gets on a call with Chang-soo himself immediately after, threatening him that once Soo-ho and his team are convinced that they won’t go back alive, they will not hesitate to blow themselves – along with the hostages – up.
By morning, the situation among Soo-ho’s team of three has worsened. With one teammate injured and Soo-ho’s plans of escape foiled, the third member of his team – Gyeok-chan (Kim Min-kyu) – questions Soo-ho’s loyalties. Soo-ho, however, subdues him with threats. With his teammate’s condition getting worse, he calls Chang-soo and demands a doctor be sent to the dorm within 20 minutes, failing which he vows to kill a hostage every 10 minutes.
That doctor turns out to be Kang Chung-ya (Yoo In-na), Tae-il’s mistress and the only one in the vicinity of the dorm. She enters the dorm along with Han-na (Jung Yoo-jin), and an ulterior motive: to knock Soo-ho’s injured teammates out and disable the booby-traps on level two, on Tae-il’s orders.
In return, Soo-ho and the dorm mother shortlist the names of some girls to be released. The situation escalates, however, when the dorm occupants – goaded by Boon-ok (Kim Hye-yoon) – protest against Yeong-ro’s name being among them. As tension mounts and Soo-ho threatens to kill everyone to regain order, Yeong-ro stops him by voluntarily giving him a one-up on ANSP: she asks him to let everyone go and just keep her, revealing her true identity to Soo-ho.
Once the injured hostages are accounted for, Han-na asks for Kang-moo to be treated. In a shocking twist, when Soo-ho goes to check on his teammate, Dr. Kang informs him that the dorm is wiretapped, and that the SWAT team will be breaking in soon. Now aware that he’s being spied on, Soo-ho lets Kang-moo (and Chang-soo and Tae-il by extension, due to the wiretaps) know that any deceit on the South Korean forces’ part will result in the entire building being blown up, thanks to the C4 his team have planted throughout.
Meanwhile, Chang-soo’s wife Ae-ra (Kim Jung-nan) arrives on the scene with food for the officers. As Ae-ra, Chang-soo and Tae-il are having breakfast, news of Han I-seop’s death breaks out, but not in the way the ANSP had hoped – instead of him being framed as a defector, the press claims they have definitive proof of his abduction. With only ten days to go before the election, Tae-il and Chang-soo freak out about what this means for ANSP – until Ae-ra provides a solution.
She suggests revealing the details of the hostage situation to the press, including the fact that the ANSP director’s daughter was among the hostages. Confident that this will convince the public to forget about Han I-seop’s case while also helping the hostages – since the North would not want to lose their deal with the South over three spies – Chang-soo and Tae-il agree.
Back at Hosu Dorm, Dr. Kang’s plans are foiled when Gyeok-chan discovers the gun hidden in her medical bag. Enraged, he threatens to shoot her, making her stand in front of a window to demonstrate his intentions. It’s Kang-moo who finally de-escalates the situation by reminding Gyeok-chan that Dr. Kang was the only one who could save his teammate’s life.
The tussle, however, gives Han-na the chance to slip away and disable the booby-trap on the emergency exit. Soo-ho catches her just in time and kicks her out before locking the door again. He gets Chang-soo on the phone again, who tells him to confirm orders from the North and not harm themselves or the hostages. Having been betrayed for a third time, Soo-ho declares all bets off – he will now kill a hostage every 10 minutes. Aware that they are being wiretapped, Soo-ho and Gyeok-chan pretend to talk about killing Yeong-ro first, before cutting off all the taps and sending the ANSP agents into a frenzy.
Soo-ho still needs to confirm what the North’s orders are, for which he brings in a shocking source – Dr. Kang Chung-ya, who turns out to be a high-ranking spy from the North, which explains why she helped him out the first time around, then. Along with Dr. Kang, Soo-ho and his team confirm the orders: they are not to harm the hostages, and they would be back home in 10 days.
In the evening, Soo-ho takes Yeong-ro aside to feed her dinner. Devastated by the turn of events, she questions why he still had her paper plane letter and why he came back to the dorm. Their conversation is cut short by a news broadcast which reveals the hostage situation and a shocking casualty of the confrontation between the North and South at sea: Yeong-ro’s brother Yeong-u, who was a marine in the army.
- The dark horse Dr. Kang Chung-ya, who seems to have infiltrated the upper echelons of the ANSP through Tae-il.
- Every episode, the dorm mother reveals a ferocious side to herself. In this one, she was about to inform South Korean forces of the spies’ dealings – thanks to a transmitter she had strapped to her thigh – before, of course, she was interrupted by Gyeok-chan.
‘Snowdrop’ is available on Disney+