Two new projects set in the same era are receiving two different responses. These two projects are JTBC’s Snowdrop and KBS’s Youth of May that tells the love story of the 1980s. Young stars like Jung Hae In, Jisoo, Lee Do Hyun, and Go Min Si joined the projects, making headlines. Both the dramas use the “pro-democracy movement,” aka the era of living history, as the stages.
Snowdrops: The reason behind the continuing public anger
Firstly, JTBC’s new drama Snowdrop got embroiled in controversy over historical inaccuracy and disparagement even before the first episode. Snowdrop has its setting in Seoul, 1987. One day, the male protagonist suddenly rushes into a female dorm, covered in blood. And the heroine hides him and takes care of his wounds even while facing danger under close surveillance.
But the background where the love triangle unfolds sparked a controversy. The show introduced two male characters as North Korean spy who disguised himself as an activist and a team leader of the NSP (Agency for National Security Planning). On top of that, the female lead uses the real activist’s name who had participated in the movement. 1987 is the year when the June Democratic Uprising generated mass protests in Korea. It’s only natural for the public to react so sensitively.
Even after the production has made its first statement, the backlash continued. Therefore, the team issued a second statement yesterday. According to the announcement, the production team will change the female lead’s name to prevent further misunderstanding. About the two male characters, they reiterated that they are no part in them that glorifies espionage or NSP. According to the statement, the play’s background is not a democratic movement but a presidential election. They also explained that the plot revolves around the fictional story of the military and NSP conspiring with the North Korean regime to maintain despotic power.
However, public anger continued. The 1987 presidential election, announced by the production team, is the result of the democratic movement. The people argued that the show doesn’t have to set the background in 1987 if the show wants to tell a love story and leave out participation in the democracy movement. Their explanations in NSP agents are still unconvincing. And the people explained, “characters who were unfairly suppressed after being accused as spies,” “North Korean dictatorship and collusion,” and “South Korean spies” are contradictory.
Youth of May: Same background with different perspective
On the other hand, KBS’s new project Youth of May is receiving favorable responses. The drama depicts the romance between two youth who fall in love with each other like fate. But their romance unfolds against the backdrop of Gwangju in May 1980, filled with sorrow, blood, shouts, and smoke.
Hee Tae and Myung Hee are two young people in the whirlpool of history. Hee Tae leaves Gwangju to enter Seoul National University Medical School with just one goal: breaking the prejudice against him being a single mom’s son. Rather than taking part in the democracy movement or concentrating on studying, he goes to music cafes with a guitar on his back. Myung Hee moved to Gwangju and became a nurse three years ago. “White Warrior” better explains her than “White Angel.”
Even from its title, the drama states that they will be using “May” and “Gwangju.” But it seems like the people are content that no characters or plot remind real individuals from the era. Youth of May will tell why ordinary people had no choice but to be “unusual.” It is why the viewers are already appreciating the work.