'Path to equality rarely easy,' says Daniel Dae Kim on 'Hawaii Five-0' departure

Stars of Hawaii Five-0.
PHOTO: Instagram/Hawaii Five-0

Korean-American star Daniel Dae Kim spoke up Wednesday regarding his departure from the long-running CBS drama "Hawaii Five-0," reportedly due to pay inequality.

Last Friday, entertainment trade magazine Variety reported that Kim and his co-star Grace Park, a Canadian-American actress of Korean heritage, were exiting the police-action show after seven years, having failed to reach an agreement with CBS on pay equality with their white co-stars Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan.

"Though I have made myself available to come back, CBS and I weren't able to agree to terms on a new contract, so I made the difficult choice not to continue," Kim wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday.

"The path to equality is rarely easy. But I hope you can be excited for the future. I am.

"As an Asian-American actor, I know first-hand how difficult it is to find opportunities at all, let alone play a well-developed, three-dimensional character like Chin Ho," he wrote, referring to his character Chin Ho Kelly.

The final offers from CBS to Kim and Park were 10 to 15 per cent less than those made to their two white co-stars, Variety reported.

Daniel Dae Kim​Photo: Berita Harian
Grace Park.Photo: Instagram/Grace Park

CBS Television Studios issued a statement Thursday saying that "Daniel and Grace have been important and valued members of 'Hawaii Five-0' for seven seasons."

"We did not want to lose them and tried very hard to keep them with offers for large and significant salary increases," the studio said.

"While we could not reach an agreement, we part ways with tremendous respect for their talents on screen, as well as their roles as ambassadors for the show off screen, and with hopes to work with them again in the near future."

Kim and Park have been series regulars as Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua, respectively, since the show -- a reboot of the original "Hawaii Five-0" series that ran from 1968 to 1980 -- debut in 2010.

Kim previously starred in "Lost" alongside Korean actress Kim Yun-jin.

Their departures come ahead of the eighth season, set to air in September.