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.
As we officially move into the second half of Snowdrop, we open on the tense moment of Dr Chung-ya (Yoo In-na) pulling the trigger on the detonator and the dorm going up in flames – turns out, it was only a section of the building. Fortunately, no one seems to be hurt – but in commotion, Chung-ya frees Soo-ho (Jung Hae-in), who overpowers Kang-moo (Jang Seung-jo) and takes charge once again.
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With their plans foiled, the hostages are ushered into the lobby this time. Soo-ho and his team spring into action, rushing to booby-trap the place once again as Chung-ya keeps the hostages subdued. When Soo-ho takes over as she rushes to the aid of Eung-chul (Jang In-sub) – the third spy, who is injured – Soo-ho warns the rest of the hostages that they will never get out. “Dead or alive, we’re in the same boat now.” he says.
At the makeshift ANSP headquarters, Tae-il (Park Sung-woong) is panicking. Just as he’s blasting Soo-ho on the phone for not sticking to the plan, Eun Chang-soo (Heo Joon-ho) interrupts their conversation and asks Soo-ho to release only Yeong-ro (BLACKPINK’s Jisoo). That, however, is not possible anymore – Yeong-ro needs to be held hostage for the people to believe the authenticity of the ANSP engineered scheme.
Chang-soo, however, is not to be reasoned with. He demands Soo-ho bring Yeong-ro to the windows by the cafeteria so he can ascertain she is safe, while also ordering South Korean forces to shoot Soo-ho as soon as he is in sight. On the other end, Chung-ya – incensed by Soo-ho’s acceptance of Chang-soo’s demands – orders Gyeok-chan (Kim Min-kyu) to accompany Soo-ho and Yeong-ro to the cafeteria and, if need be, shoot Yeong-ro.
The plan backfires massively when Yeong-ro tries to alert the authorities of Chung-ya’s true identity. As Chung-ya has ordered him to, Gyeok-chan opens fire on Yeong-ro, which prompts the South Korean forces to retaliate. In the chaos, Soo-ho gets shot while trying to ensure safe passage for Yeong-ro. For her actions, Yeong-ro gets separated from the other hostages and confined to the basement.
As Chung-ya is patching Soo-ho up, she clashes with him, still believing that the North Korean government would prioritize the lives of the spies over the deal, whereas Soo-ho’s “reasonable doubt” makes him less sure.
For their involvement in the failed escape plan, Kang-moo and dorm mother Ms Pi (Yoon Se-ah) also get confined to the basement along with Yeong-ro. As Soo-ho is locking them up, they beg him to save the hostages by convincing Chung-ya that the North is no longer supporting them. Soo-ho reluctantly agrees. Against Chung-ya’s objections, he asks for Han-na (Jung Yoo-jin) to be sent in with a camcorder so he could hear of the North and South’s collusion straight from her and prove to the ANSP that the hostages were safe.
By now, there is uproar in the North Korean offices – going against the direct orders of Soo-ho’s father Lim Ji-rok (Jeon Moo-song), DPRK’s Deputy Director of Ministry of State Security Choi Soo-ryun (Jeon Ae-ri) orders for a message to be sent to Soo-ho: to protect Chung-ya’s identity and 17 years of work, the spies are to kill all the hostages.
Back at the dorm, Chung-ya offers Gye Boon-ok (Kim Hye-yoon) a huge sum of money, along with a gun, to manage the hostages as she delegates Gyeok-chan to tail Soo-ho. Scared for her life and lured by the money, Boon-ok accepts.
Han-na arrives with the tape that confirms Soo-ho’s suspicions – the South and the North had an “agreement” about killing the spies. This leads Soo-ho to suspect that his father had somehow been outlawed – unbeknownst to him, while Ji-rok’s authority had been taken over by Soo-ryun, he had not been officially dismissed.
Just as Eun Chang-soo pleads with Soo-ryun to convince the spies to let Yeong-ro go, he is told that the South would need to arrange for the deal amount in three days to ensure the hostages’ safety. Soo-ho, on the other hand, receives orders that they were to kill all hostages the day before the election. Convinced that his father had abandoned him, Soo-ho turns – he frees Kang-moo and overpowers Chung-ya. The two also take Gyeok-chan captive.
Soo-ho tries to convince Chung-ya and Gyeok-chan to side with him, even asking Chung-ya to check with the party whether the order to send him back alive was still valid – it was not. While the three – with Kang-moo watching on – are involved in a tense confrontation, Boon-ok ushers in Yeong-ro at gunpoint. Worried about her money and her safety, she lured Yeong-ro out of the basement to use her as leverage.
She threatens to shoot Yeong-ro unless Kang-moo and Soo-ho untie Chung-ya and Gyeok-chan. She would have succeeded had Ms Pi not arrived in time – fearless, she walks up to Boon-ok and dares her to shoot, reminding the latter of her sister, who had been framed as a Northern spy and killed. Enraged, Boon-ok shoots, only to find out that the gun Chung-ya had given her had been empty all along.
With all of them now in the “third zone” – where neither the North and the South are supporting them – Kang-moo and Soo-ho decide to let the hostages in on the entire plan. As a show of trust, they agree to let the hostages move about the dorm freely. In addition, Kang-moo also subdues Boon-ok and stops her from contacting the ANSP using Ms Pi’s walkie-talkie, which she had stolen earlier from the restrooms. Both Kang-moo and Soo-ho know, however, that the plan needs Han-na. On their demands, Han-na arrives, still a little in disbelief about working with a spy.
Upstairs in the dorm, Ms Pi reveals to the students that the released hostages were taken to the ANSP instead of their homes to sign NDAs about their experiences, further convincing them of the political scheme. Collectively, they decide to show that the hostages were not abusing them when the camcorder finally arrived to record proof of their safety.
While brainstorming for ideas on how to save the hostages and get out alive, Han-na, Kang-moo and Soo-ho decide to release the tape Han-na had made directly to the press in the hopes that someone would air it. Once Han-na leaves, they try to reason with Chung-ya and Gyeok-chan, with Kang-moo assuring them that they could finally live a life without revolutions and missions if only they could use the hostage situation as leverage to make sure the ruling party loses the election.
Chung-ya seems to cave in, but Gyeok-chan is indomitable. He reveals to Soo-ho that his orders have always been to kill the latter, since someone in the upper echelons has always suspected he would betray the North. Upon being told that he has always been “a card to be discarded”, Soo-ho is devastated.
Yeong-ro, who hears their entire conversation, decides to cheer him up by making him coffee, telling him that each sip would erase a bad memory. As they each choose memories to erase with each sip, Soo-ho poignantly asks her to take another sip to erase a memory in advance: he then leans in and kisses her.
- There were a lot of wavering loyalties in these episodes, but most prominent, perhaps, were that of Kang-moo, who was not only reeling with the revelation of the South’s scheme but also of ANSP’s more sinister methods of framing innocent people as spies and killing them.
- Speaking of the ANSP, we also find that Ms Pi had reluctantly been working for the organization after being threatened with being framed as a spy. Enraged, she reveals the same to Kang-moo, who spirals further into guilt and doubt about his job.
‘Snowdrop’ is available on Disney+