Kang Dong-won’s role in “1987” got re-examined amidst “Snowdrop” controversy: “He moved Lee Han-yeol’s mother to tears”

While the drama “Snowdrop” is embroiled in controversy over history distortion, the movie “1987,” which has the same background as “Snowdrop”, is being re-examined.

It was evaluated that the movie “1987” captured the 1987 era reflected in the eyes of ordinary citizens.  In particular, actor Kang Dong-won, who appeared in “1987,” made headlines again online for his historical perception at the time.


Kang Dong-won appeared in “1987,” which was released in December 2017, and played the role of late patriotic martyr Lee Han-yeol. There were many opinions against him being chosen for this role, as his great-grandfather Lee Jong-man was a pro-Japanese activist.

Kang Dong-won's role in “1987” got re-examined amidst “Snowdrop” controversy: “He moved Lee Han-yeol’s mother to tears”

Kang Dong-won is said to have worked on this role with the feeling of “paying back all the debt.” Before and after filming in 2016, he met with Bae Eun-shim, the mother of patriotic martyr Lee Han-yeol, and also visited the grave of patriotic martyr Lee Han-yeol. Before the shoot, he visited the Lee Han-yeol Memorial Hall with director Jang Joon-hwan and toured the clothes and relics that patriotic martyr Lee Han-yeol was wearing at the time of the attack.

Kang Dong-won’s sincerity eventually worked. Regarding some opinions to exclude Kang Dong-won from “1987” in April 2017, the representative of patriotic martyr Lee Han-yeol said, “It is too narrow-minded to replace an actor just because of their great-grandfather’s doing in the past.

After the movie was released, Kang Dong-won also showed tears, saying, “While preparing for this movie, I have thought that I am living this well now is because I’m carrying a lot of debt. I participated in this movie with the feeling that I could pay off my debt even though just a little, but it still hurts me. Anyway, I’m going to work hard to repay you with more good movies in the future,” he said. 

Kang Dong-won also emphasized the actor’s sense of mission in an interview with the Japanese media “ECLAT” in November 2017. He said, “We need to study social tasks and political issues,” adding, “This is a job that expresses the pain of others through acting. It’s important to know yourself, but it’s also very important to get to know others.”

He then said, “Since an actor is a person who represents the pain and suffers of the times, we need to be more familiar with people and be able to heal their pain.

Regarding the pro-Japanese activities of his great-grandfather, he also said, “I learned about the shameful past of my great-grandfather. Before I became an actor, I thought I had to correct the wrong history as a Korean citizen and that such shameful things should not be repeated again. Through this, I will study  and reflect more about the history and do whatever I can, no matter how weak.

In March 2018, Kang Dong-won donated 200 million won to the Lee Han-yeol Memorial Project as a special sponsorship fund.

Kang Dong-won’s perception of history is drawing attention again after the recent controversy over the distortion of history of “Snowdrop.” This is because the arrow of criticism is pointing at the cast’s perception of history. Netizens point out, “It is a matter of historical perception if you decided to appear even after reading the script.” There were also comments on the actors’ SNS saying, “You need to study history.


Meanwhile, as of 10 a.m. on Dec 23rd, the petition requesting a suspension of “Snowdrop” has obtained the consent of 341,121 people. There also have reportedly been more than 400 complaints filed with the Korea Communications Standards Commission.

Civil complaints about violating the National Security Act were also filed against the production team and broadcasters of “Snowdrop”.

JTBC explained in a statement on Dec 21st, “Most of the concerns about history distortion and denunciation of the democratization movement will be resolved during the drama development process.” Nevertheless, amid lingering public opposition, JTBC just announced a consecutive broadcast from episode 3 to 5 from Dec 24th to 26th. The channel is proving that as the narrative of the drama is revealed more, the misunderstanding in the early stages can be resolved.

Back to top button