Unfortunately, Snow Drop doesn’t end with So-Na getting away from her horrible father. Instead, the story only goes downhill from there, bringing us bigger and bigger moments of utter shit. Watch out, it only gets worse.
Volume 7: Easily Forgiven, and True Love
Watch out, this one’s a two-parter. Volume 7 is a tribute to bad decisions. Hae-Gi and So-Na return to her home, so Hae-Gi can ask her father for permission to date her. So much for that independence she was trying to achieve. Dear old Dad finally reveals why he’s so against their relationship: Hae-Gi’s brother, Gae-Ri, was the one who kidnapped So-Na years before. In retaliation, So-Na’s father had Gae-Ri and his accomplices killed.
You’d think that would be enough to break up Hae-Gi and So-Na, or at the very least, make them re-think the relationship. While So-Na does show some hesitation about moving forward, about five minutes later Hae-Gi says that he doesn’t care what happened between their families, just that he loves So-Na. I love my boyfriend, too, but if his parents killed my sister, I don’t think we’d continue seeing each other.
It doesn’t matter, though, because So-Na and Hae-Gi run away together. I used to think that was romantic and brave, but now I think it’s really dumb. So-Na clearly has a death wish, as she keeps saying that as long as she and Hae-Gi can die together, she’ll be happy. What?
But even more than that, what bothers me is this “one true love” nonsense. Remember, Hae-Gi and So-Na are seventeen. They’re in high school. Think back to the people you dated in high school. I became enamored with the first guy I ever dated when I discovered that he was a Lord of the Rings fan, just like me. Or the second person I dated in high school, who I was first interested in because he was an anime fan. Because clearly liking the same thing means that you’ll be together forever. The idea that you’ll find the person you’re meant to be with forever in high school, to me, is a load of crap.The first person you date is most likely not going to be the person you’re going to marry, and they’re definitely not going to be worth dying over.
Volume 8: So-Na Dates Hwi-Rim
Or, put another way, So-Na willingly dates the man who tried to rape her.
There are so many problems with this. I’m not even sure where to start.
Rape in fiction is a quandary, and we could argue all day about using it as a plot device, as a way to show character, and whether or not it’s okay to use. It may make me uncomfortable, and I may not like to see rape used in fiction, but does that mean it should never be used? I believe – and this is just my own opinion – that if rape (or in this case, attempted rape) is used in a story, it has to be necessary; it can’t just be for shits’n’giggles. That is, it should propel the story forward, reveal something new about the characters involved, and not trivialize the victim’s experience.
So-Na’s kidnapping traumatized her for years, and left her reclusive and depressed, and she admits to being suicidal before the series began. Sure, it’s not the happiest backstory, but her reaction to it, I think, is normal and expected of someone who’s been through that. However, Hwi-Rim’s attempted rape doesn’t have that same effect on her. Even if it So-Na didn’t suffer long term effects from it (which she didn’t), I don’t think she would want to be anywhere near Hwi-Rim, let alone dating him. This is what I mean about trivializing the victim. The attempted rape is all but forgotten, and the only hang-ups she has about dating Hwi-Rim is that he’s not Hae-Gi. And the reason Hwi-Rim tried to rape So-Na in the first place was because he loved her.
For some context, Hae-Gi and his family were exiled to America, and So-Na wants to date someone to forget about him. She chooses Hwi-Rim because…well, I don’t know. If she wanted to date someone, she could have gone out with, say the class president who asked her out, and by the way, hasn’t tried to fucking rape her.
I think the lessons Snow Drop is telling us is that:
1. Rape is an expression of love.
2. Attempted rape has no lasting traumatic effects on the victim.
3. A romantic relationship with your would-be rapist is okay and probably healing.
I just…if I had a week, I couldn’t tell list all the reasons that explain how fucked up that all is.
Volume 9: So-Na Has No Identity Outside of Hae-Gi
This book is much more mild than the last few, but there’s still one thing in it that really bothers me. So-Na is now going to a different school and has made friends with the “delinquent” girls. This is supposed to show us how depressed and self-destructive So-Na’s become since Hae-Gi was exiled, but I think it misses its mark. It doesn’t make me pity So-Na; in fact, I think it makes me dislike her a lot. I think this is just my own mentality, though. Maybe this hit harder for other readers, but I’ve always been the girl going, “I don’t need no man!” I hate when a girl loses her lover, and falls to pieces. Part of that is because I don’t think I’ve ever seen the reverse – a man losing his lover as well as the will to live – but I hate how tied in So-Na’s mental health is to Hae-Gi. When she’s strong, it’s because she has Hae-Gi’s support. When she’s weak, it’s because he’s gone. Her dependency on him for her own happiness and well-being is cringe-worthy at best, and falls into “Bella jumps off cliff to see her ex-boyfriend” territory at worst. This is exactly why I said I didn’t want this series falling into unsuspecting hands. It’s not romantic, it’s not tragic; it’s a teenage girl making bad choices because she’s going through a break up. So-Na, just get a dramatic haircut or something and move on with your life, like a normal eighteen-year-old.
Oh well. At least no one was sexually assaulted in this volume.
Moment of Redemption: Hae-Gi and So-Na’s Reunion
At this point, Hae-Gi and So-Na have not seen each other in at least a year. So-Na travels to America with Hwi-Rim just so she can see him. Literally, just to look at him. Because she swore that she would never see Hae-Gi again, So-Na has no plans to interact with him. When she does get a glimpse at him, though, she’s so overwhelmed she has to run away. Hae-Gi spots her and chases after her, and the couple finally meets again. It’s sad and romantic, and I love the artwork in this scene.
Volume 10: Ha-Da Rapes Ko-Mo
I’ll try to make this quick, because I’m not sure how much more I can stomach. Ha-Da accidentally gets Ko-Mo high as balls (it’s a long story), and has sex with him. That’s bad enough, especially considering that Ko-Mo has spent most of the series trying to get Ha-Da to leave him alone. But, because Ha-Da is a “hero” in the story and we’re supposed to be cheering for him, Ha-Da having sex with a drugged up Ko-Mo can’t be seen as a villainous thing. We’re supposed to like this guy, after all. Instead of Ko-Mo being horribly scarred or attempting to kill Ha-Da (which he’s done), he falls in love. Ko-Mo falls in love with his rapist.
You here that, fellas? If they keep saying “no”, what they need from you is a good dicking.
This is even more troubling to me that So-Na dating Hwi-Rim. Hwi-Rim’s attempted rape of So-Na was portrayed as monstrous and violent, but Ha-Da’s rape of Ko-Mo was portrayed as romantic. All Ko-Mo needed to finally say yes to Ha-Da was a shitton of drugs.
This might be the worst thing I’ve ever read. And I once read a graphic fanfiction about Princess Leia and Optimus Prime.
Volume 11: Snow Drop Just Keeps Going
Snow Drop‘s tagline advertises the manhwa as “a Romeo & Juliet style romance”. I’d say that’s accurate, as both works feature feuding families and teenagers making stupid decisions. It really looked So-Na and Hae-Gi were going to go the same way as the original star-crossed couple, when they are shot and stabbed by their own family members. As they lay dying in the hospital, So-Na sees her mother and Hae-Gi in the afterlife. They are amazingly happy, but decide that they want to live together. They don’t die, their families forgive each other, and even Ko-Mo returns his feelings for Ha-Da. It’s a happy ending for everyone!
Except it doesn’t end there. The second half of the book looks like it belongs in a completely different series. The big conflict is that Hae-Gi wants to marry So-Na, but she thinks they’re too young. Finally, she says something sensible. Had I been the creator, I would have either killed them off, and let the second half of this book be about their families, or I would have ended it with Hae-Gi’s and So-Na’s happy ending.
Volume 12: Choi Kyuang-ah Just Gives Up
Choi Kyuang-ah is the creator of Snow Drop, by the way.
I’ve got nothing against happy endings. I think real life needs more happy endings. Even after such a dramatic series where everything is doom and gloom, it’s nice to see So-Na and Hae-Gi succeed, and eventually get married, with their parents approval. In fact, one of my favorite moments comes at their wedding, with So-Na’s father and Hae-Gi’s mother respectfully bowing to one another. But it just drags on and on after that. In fact, most of the book doesn’t even focus on Hae-Gi and So-Na. A good portion of it is dedicated to Hwi-Rim finding love (with a high school student…), and glamour shots of Hae-Gi and So-Na kissing and declaring how much they love each other. The only thing resembling a plot towards the end is So-Na being upset that she likely won’t be able to have children. Flash forward, and we see her, Hae-Gi, and their new baby.
Everyone getting what they want and living happily ever after isn’t a bad ending, but there are two things that bother me about it. First of all, a lot of this really feels inflated and unnecessary. It makes me wonder if Kyuang-ah actually intended for the series to end this way, or if there was some sort of contract stipulation that said “you need to create X number of chapters”. In one of the bonus comics illustrating her life, she even says that the ending was originally going to be much darker. I have to wonder if she gave us the light and fluffy ending because she wanted to, or if it was a case of editorial meddling.
The other thing that bugs me about the ending is that it just doesn’t fit with the rest of the series. Snow Drop is convoluted, violent, and over-the-top dramatic. This ending is so happy, and comes to the characters so easily, makes it feel like it was ripped from a completely different manga. It’s just…too happy, and too neat.
Final Final Verdict:
If you haven’t lost your lunch yet, I’ll be back on soon with The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis.
[…] written about other books that use sexual violence as a plot device in the past here. I’m still never sure how I feel about sexual assault in fiction in general. Personally, […]