There has been a lot of discussion about Snowdrop that the controversial drama even went to court just to prove it’s right to be aired. Let’s not delve into the negative publicity anymore because I think this is one misjudged drama from the get-go. I don’t blame the K-Netz though I don’t agree with them. The plot synopsis highlights the North Korean spy’s point-on-view – he’s the one who falls in love here, which makes it a great clickbait tease, but all it did was push people away from the potentially great storytelling that it would have offered.
Moving on to the chaotic run of Snowdrop, it’s a decent drama – and the lost potential was regretful, to say the least. I loved everyone’s portrayal. And while BLACKPINK Jisoo’s acting in her first lead role still needs improvement, she delivered Eun Young-ro well. I remembered the likes of Baby VOX Eunhye, SES Eugene, Hello Venus Nara, and MissA Suzy before they became big in the acting world – who eventually lost their respective idol names – and just be introduced as Yoon Eun-hye, Eugene, Kwon Nara, Bae Suzy. Sometimes, I even forget Ji-soo’s still a member of BLACKPINK while watching the drama. I’m optimistic she will soon shed her idol image and be a confident actress without the need to bank on the popularity of her global group.
THIS REVIEW IS FULL OF SPOILERS. You’ve BEEN WARNED.
One Way Ticket
The main couple’s romance in Snowdrop emitted a massive Stockholm Syndrome vibe and didn’t sit right me. I understand that the story made great efforts to prove that the love they felt was real and deep, but I want to be a cautious and discerning audience. Loving an abuser (a hostage-taker to be specific) is never okay. I know they met even before the hostage-taking happened, but it didn’t change the fact that he pointed a gun at the female lead and threatened to harm her. Let’s all be cautious about these things, okay?
As an individual, I loved everyone it’s heartbreaking. Lee Soo-ho (Jung Hae-in) deserves recognition for this role. He carried the weight of being the torn North Korean patriot to an abandoned traitor very well. The song “One Way Ticket” was also an ominous sign that things would not go well between him and Young-ro, and throughout its run, I always remind myself that this would not have a happy ending. It’s befitting that Soo-ho and Young-ro would not end up together because it’s the harsh truth that we all must accept. Even Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin’s Crash Landing on You didn’t even dare push its luck in making the lead characters get their happy-ever-after ~in Korea~.
Young-ro is still a college girl barely of legal age. Her view of love is innocent and idealistic which makes her hard to blame for falling for a guy who kills enemies for a living. The interactions between Young-ro and Soo-ho are sweet and endearing, and they care for each other no doubt about that. But the love they had was unfortunate and not meant to be.
“You bloomed flowers inside me who was so cold.“
If Soo-ho was not the enemy’s pawn, I would have rooted for them with all my heart. They have the purest conversations about their affection for each other, their past, and their hopes for tomorrow. Soo-ho only wanted to live like a normal person and save his sister who was left behind in his home country. He was the son of a reactionary and he always prioritized humanity above all. And this is why the North was always watching over him intently – like a ticking time bomb ready to explode anytime.
When he met Young-ro, it was game over. The ideology sold to him all his life dissolved and turned into flowers inside his heart. Young-ro was the snowdrop in his life. In Soo-ho’s point of view, this was a love story. But sadly, in Young-ro’s perspective, he’s a person who briefly dropped by to leave a lasting mark in her life.
Enough for the red flags, now it’s time for the strengths. I clearly understood why big names (and SKY Castle alums) accepted the casting offers for Snowdrop. There are no secondary characters in this drama, and everyone was given their own time to shine!
Dr. Kang Cheong-ya (Yoo In-na) is a rewarding twist I didn’t expect at first. She made me believe she’s an ally and well, that’s why she’s Moran Hill, the national pride of North Korea. Cheong-ya is an ace who can intercept multi-million dollars-worth of dirty money in a day. She’s the only North Korean who survived the chaos alive. Best character development in the story – and rightfully deserving of the hero’s love. She even said the best quote in the entire drama for me: “Your future is whatever you make it.” Powerful.
The revelations about Ms. Pi (Yoon Se-ah) and Gye Bun-ok (Kim Hye-yoon) were a bit expected but still, they were the best thing that happened in the drama. Bun-ok singlehandedly carried the thrill in the dorm. She spiced up the interactions among the students, and the villainy character was almost too realistic that I jeered every time she gets humiliated for her assumptions and wrong decisions.
Hands down my favorite couple from the drama – Lee Gang-mu (Jang Seung-jo) and Jang Han-na (Jung Eugene) – gave me the badly needed butterflies amidst the madness. Every time Gang-mu radios Han-na to be careful whenever she risks her life outside, I feel giddy. It’s a simple gesture that makes one’s heart flutter especially during the dark times they’re in. I’m glad they got back together in the end.
Lastly, Snowdrop is run by women. I know the story was overwhelming with testosterone and the conflict was just full of male ego from both sides, but if you look at it objectively, the brains and legwork were led by Han-na, Cheong-ya, the wives of the officials, Ms. Pi, and Young-ro. All the men ever did was bicker and shoot each other when in fact they’re the root of all the mayhem.
Bromance to kill the game
The ill-fated end of the North Korean delegation was a foreseeable event. If there’s one thing I always notice with these types of stories is the admirable camaraderie among the spies despite the misplaced patriotism that they were brought up to believe in. Taedong River 1 (Soo-ho’s agent name) was the best team leader for Gyeok-chan (Kim Min-kyu) and Eung-cheol (Jang In-sub). Soo-ho showed them that even though they were to put the nation first before themselves, it’s also important not to lose humanity above all. They are comrades through thick and thin – no one will be left behind.
The unexpected friendship of Black Tiger (Lee Gang-mu’s agent name) and Taedong River 1 was also one of my favorite developments in the story. It’s proof that compassion still exists in the cruel world and as long as we are ready to listen, peace will come our way. Black Tiger’s lifelong mission was to eliminate communist rebels and go after Taedong River 1 who killed his co-agent/friend while on a chase. He wanted to avenge his teammate but he gained another friend in the process. They realized that absolute obedience was never the solution. They were just tools used by their respective countries and could be discarded anytime. Together, Black Tiger and Taedong River 1 worked for the common goal of rescuing the students who were merely victims of their governments’ grand scheme. It’s such a satisfying alliance that made Snowdrop worth the watch.
❄️️ This OST will never not make me sad. Comforting yet full of yearning.
❄️️ The cause of my meltdown before things went awry
❄️️ If only I could paste all of Gye Bun-ok’s scenes in this feature, I would! Such a great (and annoying) character portrayal for Kim Hye-yoon!! Danohya, you’ve come a long way!
❄️️ Snowdrop‘s cinematography is top-tier