Two of the most prominent Asian North American stars reunited in Vancouver—after their controversial departure from a successful U.S. TV series.
Actors Daniel Dae Kim (Lost) and Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica) played two of the lead characters, Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalalaua, on the TV police procedural Hawaii Five-0. Launched in 2010, it is a reboot of the original series, which ran from 1968 to 1980.
Although Kim and Park were original cast members of the reboot series, they shocked audiences and screen industries by leaving the show about a week before production was slated to begin on Season 8.
Kim wrote a lengthy Facebook post on July 5 explaining why he was leaving.
"Though I 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," he stated.
He expressed his thanks to fans as well as the cast and crew, including the executive producers.
"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 stated. "I will miss him sincerely."
Their departures turned intor racial controversy when reports suggested that Kim and Park, who are both of Korean descent, were fighting to receive the same equal pay as their white costars, Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan.
At the Television Critics Association press tour on August 1, CBS entertainment president Kelly Kahl, who faced criticism about the lack of diversity on the network's shows, argued that they had made their best efforts to keep Kim and Park on Hawaii Five-0.
“We loved both those actors and did not want to lose them,” he said. “We made very, very strong attempts to keep them and offered them a lot of money to stick around. We wanted them to stick around. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of having a long successful show is sometimes you lose cast members. We didn’t want it to happen. We tried our darnedest to keep them… We never like to lose characters that the audience loves off long-running shows. It’s the nature of the business. We made very lucrative offers to those actors.”
Another Asian American Hawaii Five-0 series regular Masi Oka, who has played Dr. Max Bergman since Season 1, left the show during Season 7. He explained that the constant commuting between Hawaii, L.A., and Japan was becoming too challenging for him.
Kim is the producer of a new TV series, The Good Doctor, which is an adaptation of a South Korean series about a talented surgeon with Savant syndrome, played by Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel).
The pilot was shot in Vancouver in March. After being greenlit, the series began production on Season 1 here on July 26. It will continue shooting in Vancouver until December 5.
Over the past week, Kim appears to have been enjoying Vancouver. He posted photos of himself on social media around town, including enjoying oysters and doing Vancouver's famous Grouse Grind.
Vancouver-based Park grew up here and rose to fame when as she starred on Vancouver-shot TV series Edgemont and Battlestar Galactica.