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Movie stars to return to small screen

“Lost” (JTBC)
“Lost” (JTBC)

South Korean movie stars are turning up on TV dramas in the second half of the year, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing number of streaming platforms.

Many household names who have been mostly working in film are returning to the small screen after years of absence.

Lee Ha-nee and Cannes winner Jeon Do-yeon will kick off a season full of dramas starring big-screen actors.

Jeon is returning to TV for the first time since her 2015 hit tvN drama “The Good Wife.” The actor stars in JTBC’s upcoming romance drama “Lost” as a ghostwriter who loses the will to live.

The 16-part series will run every weekend starting Sept. 4.

Also joining “Lost” is actor Ryu Jun-yeol in his first TV role in five years. His most recent TV drama was MBC’s “Lucky Romance” (2016).

Lee, a former Miss Korea, stars in SBS’ new Friday-Saturday drama “One the Woman,” which is scheduled to start after the conclusion of SBS suspense drama series “Penthouse 3.”

The 16-episode drama will start Sept. 17.

“After 2 1/2 years, I am very excited and nervous to meet fans through a TV drama. With an amazingly funny script, I definitely enjoy shooting the show with other actors and the staff, so I hope the viewers will be able to wait just a little more to meet ‘One the Woman,’” an SBS press release quoted Lee as saying.

The well-known trio of Lee Jung-jae, Yoo Ah-in and Park Jeong-min is making a highly anticipated return to the small screen with the actors’ upcoming Netflix debuts.

Veteran actor Lee Jung-jae, whose last TV project was “Chief of Staff 2” (2019), stars as a player in a mystery survival game in Netflix’s “Squid Game,” which premieres Sept. 17.

Another Netflix original series, “Hellbound,” stars Yoo and Park, whose last TV appearances were on the tvN dramas “Chicago Typewriter” (2017) and “Entourage” (2016), respectively.

“Korean actors preferred to shoot films for various reasons, with the possibility of being nominated at international film festivals as one of them,” culture critic Kim Heon-sik said in a phone interview with The Korea Herald on Wednesday.

“As Netflix contents gain global attention, some of the Netflix original series are being invited to international film festivals, allowing actors to gain global recognition with a drama series,” Kim added.

Kim also sees the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic as having accelerated the trend.

“The strict social distancing guidelines are making it hard for the actors and the staff to shoot and premiere their works in cinemas. As COVID-19 continues, fans can expect to meet even more ‘movie stars’ on the small screen.”

By Lee Si-jin (