Snowdrop is one of the most, if not, the most highly-anticipated Korean dramas of 2021. The first episode dropped on December 18 of this year and fans went absolutely nuts for it. The Korean drama stars Kim Jisoo, of BLACKPINK fame as Eun Young-ro a freshman English major in the Hosoo Women’s University.
As well as respected Korean actor Jung Hae-in, as Im Soon-ho a North Korean agent, although as the story progresses we might know the full story if he is indeed a North Korean Spy or not, who disguised himself as a graduate student who majors in Economics from the University of Berlin who’s preparing for his master’s thesis. The drama is about love and political discourse set against the backdrop of the 1987 Democracy Movement in South Korea.
As early as now, I am issuing a huge SPOILER WARNING. If you haven’t seen the premiere episode of Snowdrop just yet, I implore you to watch it and get back to this review. And, if you’ve watched the first episode already, I know you just want to get to the nitty-gritty of the details and just get the key points you might have missed or overseen and I will provide you with just that. This might be a heftier piece since it is the first episode. However, going forward, reviews and recaps will be much more concise. With that all out of the way, let’s get to the recap and review.
In the first scene of Snowdrop, we are treated to a window shot of the various girls inhabiting the dorm as the sound of an announcement through the PA system comes blaring out. A call for Young-ro is awaiting her and she has 30 seconds to pick it up. We immediately jump to a shot of Young-ro blazing by the hall to beat the clock and answer the call the awaits her. You can really see the charm of Jisoo, right off the bat, her facial expressions are what stands out. It’s very indicative that she prepared well for this role.
As she was nearing the phone desk to answer her call, the rug was, supposedly, pulled under her as she didn’t make it within the allotted time. However, the phone operator, who we’ll later know as Kye Boon-ok, played by actress Kim Hye-yoon, who seemingly has this affinity and kinship with Young-ro and gave her the phone which had her grandmother at the end of the line.
Cast Of Characters
In the next scene, in the cafeteria, the drama establishes the major players and dormmates that will surround our lead character Young-ro. First up is “Queen Bee”, Go Hye-ryung, played by Jung Shin-hye. Referred to as the most popular girl in school and resident “It Girl”. A senior majoring in Voice and Music, she is dubbed as the “Prima Donna of Hosoo”. Although others might find her as the quintessential “mean girl” due to her portrayal and look, later in the episode, wherein they go on a blind date which we’ll elaborate more on later, she has this soft spot for Young-ro. Next up is Yoon Seol-hee, played by Choi Hee-jin. She’s the nervous one of the bunch. We don’t know much about her as of yet, but she’s the sweetie and shy girl of Room 207.
Last but not least, the academic and free-thinker of the group Ahn Jung-min, played by actress Kim Mi-soo. She’s shown as the quiet type of the group that gets in quite a few scuffles with Hye-ryung. One of the more important details in this scene, which will be integral in the latter part of the episode, is that Jung-min was hiding a piece of literature titled “The Truth About Socialism” hidden within a book called “The Terrifying Mercenary Baseball Team”. As everyone was shocked in the cafeteria, Young-ro would play it off humorously and proceeded to recite an excerpt from The Terrifying Mercenary Baseball Team book instead.
The political side of this drama comes into play as we are introduced to Nam Tae-il, played by Park Sung-woong, the Secretary-General of the ruling party. And, Eun Chang-soo, played by Heo Joon-ho, the Head of the Agency for National Security Planning. These two would engage in a game of one-upmanship, and so do their wives in a later scene at a dress shop, establishing them as somewhat political rivals albeit being in the same ruling party.
The next scene is an important one, as all this talk about “Operation Phoenix” comes to light with the president. As both Tae-il and Chang-Soo are present. Seemingly tensions are high in the political climate between the Aemin Party, which is the ruling party, and the opposition party. Apparently, they would go as far as setting up the opposition party to take the fall claiming that one Professor Han I-Seop was abducted by the “North” to reclaim power over these heated times. Framing the opposition party as an accessory in this incident with the backing and funding of the North.
We are brought to an airport as a chauffeur is picking up a man named Lee Kang-moo, played by actor Jang Seung-jo. Known as the “Black Tiger”, he is the leader of the Agency for National Security Planning’s Team One who always follows the rules. As established, later on, he just got back from Germany after a mission that went awry. A flashback from two years ago in Berlin, Kang-moo was after a North Korean spy merely known as “Taedong River 1” who is now back in South Korea and he is on the hunt once again. A very unorthodox character would be introduced as well who will seemingly aid him in this mission is Jang Han-na, played by actress Jung Yoo-jin.
A passionate but “plays by her own rules” kind of cop. One particular scene stood out, as Han-na was hearing the news of Kang-moo’s return, she would go onto douse her face with water with a stern look on her face as if they had a history together. We shall definitely find out sooner rather than later because even in the scene wherein Kang-moo asked the officers present who would want to volunteer to partake in this operation, he was quick to state that he does not want Han-na anywhere near this case. But, Han-na was adamant in joining this task force regardless.
Soon-ho’s Introduction & Young-ro’s Race Against The Clock
Soon-ho’s initial introduction to the series was a short one. With girls fawning over him and his friends by his side, they were shown having a barbecue to celebrate his return from the University of Berlin to start his supposed master’s thesis. A frantic scene would commence shortly thereafter as the girls of the Hosoo Women’s University dorm make a run for it before their curfew.
Amidst the scuffle, Hye-ryung was even proposed to by a Military man. She just nodded her head and made a run for it in a very funny scene. Hye-ryung as well as the other girls made it just in time except for Young-ro. She would scale the building of the Hosoo dorm in an effort to make it to her room before the dorm roll call. Here we see the dorm director and house mother of the dorm Pi Seung-hee, played by actress Yoon Se-ah roaming the halls.
Meeting The Den Mother
Young-ro, narrowly avoiding disaster, would make it to her room. In large part because Boon-ok made a ruckus to buy Young-ro some time. In this scene, the whole vibe of the dorm was established. As before they got all the all-clear from dorm director Seung-hee, she made them recite the dorm rules. The rules are “Abide by The Curfew, No Protest, No Sleeping Out”. It is indeed very telling that this university abides by the rules enforced by the current ruling party.
The intensity of the previous scenes was broken up Young-ro thanking the resident handyman known as Mr. Kim for retrieving the rice cakes her grandmother had given her from outside the dorm as well as thanking Boon-ok for her efforts. Boon-ok however wanted a little something in exchange. An English version of the Romeo and Juliet novel. Young-ro was taken aback by this request and Boon-ok went off into a tangent on why Young-ro was surprised she wanted that piece of literature. Boon-ok would go onto state is it because she’s not a college girl like they all are? Young-ro would calm her down soon after but this establishes Boon-ok’s envy of the girls in the Hosoo dorm. Also, Seol-hee made a little comment that she was suspicious of what’s inside Boon-ok’s room. As if she was hiding something. Maybe will find out more in future episodes.
The Blind Date
The scene preceded this saw Kang-moo and Han-na going back and forth once again about the case and how Han-na could infiltrate the opposing party. Which truly heightens the political aspect of this drama. Oh Kwang-tae, a university student who likes Hye-ryung phoned in a call at the Hosoo dorm. In an effort to strike a group blind date with the Hye-ryung and the girls of Room 207. Young-ro excitedly pretended as a receptionist and accepted the blind date on behalf of the girls. Kwang-tae convinced Soon-ho to come along, begrudgingly of course, as he dangled the prospect of meeting Professor Han over his head. However, the girls had a problem as well. They were one date down as Jung-min refuses to go to the date, more on that later. Boon-ok ended up coming with the girls, with a little convincing from Young-ro to Hye-ryung.
They all ended up meeting at the Rome Coffee Shop at 3 PM, with the girls being fashionably late. This scene provided us with one of the most romantic scenes fans have been waiting for all year. Soon-ho was seen making a matchstick tower and not even paying attention to the entry of the girls. Kwang-tae excitedly stood up and knocked over the whole matchstick tower. In an effort to save the crumbling structure, Young-ro instinctively grasp the tower but ended up having this romantic touch with Soon-ho. It was love at first sight, folks. The chemistry was off the charts between the two lead actors and it was just the first scene.
Romance Is In The Air
Everyone decided that they should partner up. And, whoever chooses the token brought by the guys will be their designated partner. Soon-ho and Young-ro would exchange looks and subtle nudges. Soon-ho wanted Young-ro to retrieve the paper airplane he brought. However, before Young-ro could do so, Boon-ok swooped in. In an earlier scene, Boon-ok saw Soon-ho fiddling around with the paper airplane as his token. The next scene saw Young-ro dancing to a cassette tape entitled “Eruption”. She freely dances around and sings before she realizes she had called upon the attention of everyone in the coffee shop. Embarrassed by this, she stopped enjoying herself.
She would frantically make a break for the exit as she saw Soon-ho. Young-ro, still clearly smitten by the young man, wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. Knowing that Boon-ok had a little crush on Soon-ho. But, Soon-ho stated he rejected Boon-ok’s advances due to being “busy”. One of the more captivating scenes in this premiere episode sees Soon-ho buy the Eruption tape for Young-ro. Mildly embarrassed, Young-ro proceeded to run after Soon-ho as she said stated she cannot accept such a gift.
Before this discussion could end, we see authorities cracking down on male students asking for identification. As the news of a North Korean spy broke quickly. The two protagonists would scurry in an alleyway, as we see Soon-ho trembling at his possible capture. Young-ro’s instincts would kick in, and decided to play along as they shared a deeply affectionate embrace. Young-ro stated that her brother, who we know in the military currently, was arrested for the protests establishing her connection with people who oppose this regime.
Young-ro accepted the tape but went on to say she could not be burdened by the thought of owing someone. She proposed somewhat of a date to Soon-ho at the Rome Coffee Shop. Same time, the same place. The very next day, we see a heartbreaking scene. Wherein Young-ro waited and waited for Soon-ho but he ultimately never came. Viewers would learn why that is in the closing moments of the series. The next scene saw a protest turn violent as the ruling party’s army tear-gassed the opposition’s protesters. Here we see Jung-min as one of the protesters. Establishing her as one of the people in the Hosoo dorm who opposes the views this current government regime employs.
Soon-ho’s character would be fleshed out even more. As in the very next scene, we see him with a couple of guys in a car staking out a particular area at night. He sees Professor Han I-Seop with a flat tire and offered to give him a ride home. Before they could make a break for it, Kang-moo and Han-na as well as the rest of the agency task force would hit their car in an effort to capture the suspected North Korean spy. Soon-ho and one of his cohorts made a run for it. Soon-ho soon found himself in the Hosoo dorm, fittingly enough in Room 207. The agency infiltrated the all-girls dorm, albeit with a little pushback from dorm director Seung-hee. The final scene of Snowdrop’s first episode saw Young-ro discovering Soon-ho’s battered and bloody body as the episode concludes.
Snowdrop really established this series as a “must-watch” moving forward. They definitely delivered on the romantic aspect of this series which fans have hoped for since the series was announced. While simultaneously bringing the fans intriguing plot points. Such as the political tension and the high possibility of Soon-ho’s involvement in all of this. Jisoo, in her lead actress debut, was outstanding. She can be very charming one moment and then extremely emotional the next. Her facial expressions stand out mightily and for a “rookie” actress, it is quite amazing how she fits into this role perfectly.
Hae-in excels in this role as Soon-ho. He came off as a mild-mannered guy with a sweet side. While juggling this aura of darkness and a man who has his own secrets locked away. Again, their chemistry on-screen is such a highlight of this premiere episode. And, if the trailers and teasers are to go by, that were released before the series started, fans are in for a ride filled with romance that gradually descends into very dark territories.
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