A group of professors and scholars of Korean Studies has recently penned an open letter to Disney Plus to raise concerns over historical distortion in the Korean drama “Snowdrop,” which is now streaming internationally.
The letter, addressed to President of The Walt Disney Company in Asia Pacific Luke Kang, requested for the company to find experts to “carefully examine the historical references made in the show,” Pinkvilla reported.
“We make this request because we do not believe that Disney Plus as a global platform is aware of the historical and socio-political context in which this show exists, and we believe that platforms should make an informed decision when globally broadcasting a show set in recent, still-relevant Korean history (1987),” the letter, signed by 32 professors and scholars, read.
The open letter was written jointly by scholars from several major institutions in South Korea and abroad, including Ewha Womans University, Pusan National University, Harvard University and Princeton University.
“Snowdrop,” which stars actor Jung Hae-in and Blackpink’s Jisoo, has been accused by critics of distorting Korea’s history. However, its director, Jo Hyun-tak, pointed out days before the show’s premiere that although the story takes place in 1987, “everything in the series, such as the characters and agency, and except for the situation of the military regime and the presidential election, is fictionally created,” The Korea Times reported.
While the professors and scholars who penned the open letter “respect the Korean drama production’s right to create and broadcast fictional stories in Korea, where there are esteemed Korean historians, politicians, and other figures of intellectual authority who can offer their expertise and critique for Korean viewers,” they argue that the same cannot be said once shows such as “Snowdrop” are “broadcast to an international audience, an audience that is generally unfamiliar with modern Korean history.”
“While we understand the defense that fiction has a right to explore creative narratives, that defense can also feel hollow when a show uses numerous, specific details that reference actual people and incidents from recent history,” the letter continued.
The letter also addressed two specific concerns: the similarity between the original name of Jisoo’s character (Eun Young-ro) and the name of renowned student democracy activist Cheon Yeong-cho, and the similarities between Jisoo’s character’s father (Eun Chang-su) and real-life military officer Park Jun-byeong. Park reportedly led the 20th Infantry Division into the city of Gwangju in May 1980 to commit “one of the worst massacres of civilians in modern Korean history.”
The Seoul Western District Court dismissed the injunction filed by the Declaration of Global Citizens in Korea to stop the broadcast of “Snowdrop” in South Korea after the show was accused of historical distortion, which led to Disney Plus losing some of its sponsors.
According to Soompi, the court stated on Dec. 29, 2021 that even if “Snowdrop” were “based on a distortion of history, the probability that the public will blindly accept [those distortions as fact] is low.”