A flurry of major Korean drama casting announcements have come in the past few weeks. Many are for new and original series from streaming services as they step up their audience growth efforts in South Korea and challenge existing terrestrial broadcasters and cable channels.
Beyong the Memory
Following his acclaimed turn in the hit series Behind Evil , Shin Ha-kyun has lined up his next role in the TVing original series Beyond the Memory , which will see him join forces with The King and the Clown director Lee Joon-ik, one of the biggest names in Korean film.
The series is a major departure for Lee, who is known for making period dramas and who has not directed for television before. Beyond the Memory is said to be a science-fiction series set in the future and centred around virtual reality. It will be a mid-form drama, with episodes clocking in at under an hour each. Shin and Lee were recognised in the recent Baeksang Arts Awards, for Beyond Evil and The Book of Fish respectively.
Prolific director Yeon Sang-ho (Train to Busan ) has his name attached to yet another project – he is co-writing the upcoming TVing original Monstrous , along with Ryu Yong-jae, known for Netflix’s My Holo Love.
The show will revolve around an archaeologist who attempts to solve a mysterious case. Actor Koo Gyo-hwan, who appeared in Yeon’s 2020 film Peninsula , has been approached to star in Monstrous , while Kwak Dong-yeon, who appeared in Netflix series Vincenzo , has been confirmed for the cast.
Directing the series will be indie darling Jang Kun-jae, known for Sleepless Night and A Midsummer’s Fantasia. The series producer is Climax, the company behind Yeon’s upcoming Netflix show, Hellbound.
Yum Jung-ah (SKY Castle ) and Yeom Hye-ran (The Uncanny Counter ) are being courted to star in a Korean remake of the British series Cleaning Up, which was initially broadcast as a six-part series on television network ITV in 2019. The series would see the actresses play an office cleaner and her friend.
The cleaner, who struggles with debt, a gambling addiction and a nasty custody battle, happens to overhear some sensitive discussions at the financial institution where she works, which prompts the women to enter the dangerous world of insider trading.
You Are Killer
Shin’s Beyond Evil co-star Yeo Jin-goo may have also lined up his next project, which looks to be the fantasy romance You Are Killer (also known as Link).
Yeo will play a chef who returns to the town where his twin sister disappeared 20 years earlier to set up a restaurant, but he begins to experience unusual emotions, breaking out into spontaneous laughter or tears. One day, he meets the woman who has been invading his mind – a role that has been offered to Moon Ga-young of the recent hit True Beauty.
Signal star Kim Hye-soo looks to be returning to period dramas with the upcoming tvN series Shuroop . The show is described as a comedy, set during the Joseon era of Korean history that ran from the 14th to the 19th centuries, about a queen who must turn her unruly son into a dignified prince.
The show would mark Kim’s first period drama role in 20 years, though she did appear more recently in the Joseon era film The Face Reader in 2016. Kim most recently starred in the legal drama Hyena and will next be seen in another legal show, Netflix’s Juvenile Judgement.
My Liberation Day
Kim Ji-won (Arthdal Chronicles ), Lee Min-ki (The Beauty Inside ), Lee El (The Call ) and Son Seok-gu (Sense8 ) have all been confirmed for the upcoming JTBC drama My Liberation Day.
The first three will play siblings in a dysfunctional rural town, whose lives are suddenly upended by the arrival of a mysterious stranger played by Son. The series will be written by Park Hae-young, known for the hit series My Mister.
The Second Anna
Bae Suzy (Vagabond ) appears likely to return to the small screen in upcoming series The Second Anna , the second announced original series from new streaming service Coupang Play, following One Ordinary Day with Kim Soo-hyun.
The eight-part drama will be directed by Lee Joo-young, who previously made the film A Single Rider with Gong Hyo-jin and Lee Byung-hun. The show will follow a woman with a delusional disorder who lives another person’s life. The project was originally conceived as a film and was later adapted into a drama format.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.