Top Korean movie stars choose to act in K-dramas amid Covid-19


Hwang Jung-min stars in 'Hush'. Photo: Handout

More and more top Korean movie stars are opting for TV dramas mainly due to the prolonged difficult situation the local film industry has been going through since Covid-19 broke out early last year.

Not only movie stars that occasionally have been making the switch to TV shows, but also those who had been appearing only on the big screen for years are making the switch.

In December last year, veteran actor Hwang Jung-min, star of multiple megahit films like Ode To My Father and Veteran, which each attracted more than 10 million viewers here, surprised fans with the decision to star in JTBC drama Hush.

Before starring in this human drama, Hwang’s latest TV appearance was around eight years ago in cable drama series Korean Peninsula.

Hush, which aired in South Korea from Dec 11 to Feb 6, centred on the challenges that Korean reporters face. Hwang played Han Jun-hyuk, a long-time reporter who spends more time playing pool than doing his work.

Hwang will also appear on upcoming Netflix original series Suriname, along with another prolific actor Ha Jung-woo, who has three megahit films with more than 10 million viewers – Assassination and two flicks in the Along With The God series. Ha‘s latest TV appearance was in crime drama H.I.T back in 2007.

Cannes-winning best actress Jeon Do-yeon will also star in the upcoming JTBC drama series Disqualified As A Human.

It has been around five years since Jeon last appeared on the small screen, as the main protagonist of tvN’s The Good Wife in 2016.

Jeon will play the role of ghostwriter Bu-jung, while co-star Ryu Jun-yeol will play the role of Kang-jae, who runs a company that organises people to take on different roles for money. The story revolves around interactions between the two at life’s edge.

Disqualified As A Human will also be director Hur Jin-ho’s small screen debut. Hur is known for directing popular films such as Christmas In August and The Last Princess. Hit romantic movie Architecture 101 writer Kim Ji-hye penned the script.

Choi Min-sik, who gained international fame for his role in Cannes-winning thriller Oldboy (2003), will star in the TV series Casino which will be directed by Kang Yoon-sung.

Choi’s new drama is aiming to begin airing before the end of this year.

Director Kang is known for directing the hit crime action film The Outlaws (2017). He, like Hur, does not have any experience directing TV dramas.

According to movie industry insiders, the growth of global streaming platforms like Netflix, which produces original high-budget and quality series like zombie-thriller Kingdom, has also led Korean movie stars to consider making the switch, along with the shrinking local movie market.

However, some local entertainment industry insiders question whether this new trend of casting big names will last for long, as it does not always guarantee a show’s success. The 16-episode drama series Hush starring Hwang failed to attract a wide viewer base, as its highest viewership was the 3.4% recorded for its first episode, according to data from Nielsen Korea. – The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

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