Back To Top

Top movie stars choose small screen amid COVID-19

Jeon Do-yeon: Jeon Do-yeon (Megabox Joongang Plus M)
Jeon Do-yeon: Jeon Do-yeon (Megabox Joongang Plus M)

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 from Dec. 11 to Feb. 6, centered 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. 

Scene from JTBC’s “Hush” starring Hwang Jung-min (JTBC)
Scene from JTBC’s “Hush” starring Hwang Jung-min (JTBC)

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 organizes 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.
Choi Min-sik (CJes Entertainment)
Choi Min-sik (CJes Entertainment)

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 percent recorded for its first episode, according to data from Nielsen Korea.

By Song Seung-hyun (