articleK-Drama

Controversy erupts over overlapping actors in ongoing K-dramas: “Every time I change the channel, it’s that actor again”

Viewers complained about the lack of diversity in the cast of K-dramas airing at the same time. 

A common problem of Korea’s broadcasting is the overlapping appearance of the cast. In addition to starring in different roles at the same time, the characters these actors have played are even similar to each other, causing more confusion to viewers.

lee kyung young
“That actor is coming out again. He is the head of the hospital. Isn’t he also a congressman in another ongoing drama?”

The issue over the same actors being cast in different dramas airing at the same time has existed for a long time. Even recently, not just one actor, but actors who were co-stars in a previous drama later appeared simultaneously in other works like a package. As a result, viewers are bewildered as to whether the previous drama has ended. For example, this actor appears in a new drama, but his characters are so similar that viewers are confused about which drama it is.

Again my life

In SBS’s Friday-Saturday drama “Again My Life”, which aired its last episode on May 28th, there are two representative villains, politician Cho Tae-sub and Prosecutor Jang Il-hyun. Cho Tae-sub, a former prosecutor, is a figure who controls the Republic of Korea behind the scenes after becoming a lawmaker. On the surface, he is a member of the National Assembly who listens to the voices of the weak, but in reality, he is corrupt and only cares about his own benefit. Jang Il-hyun is the male lead’s college senior. He is greedy and sticks to Cho Tae-sub and other powerful figures. 

lee kyung young
Lee Kyung-young is starring overlappingly in MBC’s Friday-Saturday drama “Doctor Lawyer” (left) and SBS’s Friday-Saturday drama “Why Her” 

Coincidentally, Lee Kyung-young and Kim Hyung-mook, two actors who played the above antagonistic characters in “Again My Life” are now appearing in the same drama again. They are both in the cast of MBC’s Friday-Saturday drama “Doctor Lawyer”, which premiered on June 3rd. What’s noteworthy is, their characters in “Doctor Lawyer” and “Again My Life” are strikingly similar. They just changed from a politician and a prosecutor to a hospital director and a doctor. 

lee kyung young

Gu Jin-gi, played by Lee Kyung-young, is the director of the hospital where the main character worked at and is also an excellent cardiothoracic surgeon. However, he is drunk with power and does not hesitate to engage in corruption. Park Ki-tae, played by Kim Hyung-mook, is a doctor who works in the same hospital as the main character. He betrays the main character for power and sides with Gu Jin-gi. Lee Kyung-young and Kim Hyung-mook’s appearance in “Doctor Lawyer” can’t help but remind viewers of Jo Tae-sup and Jang Il-hyun in their previous drama. 

lee kyung young

It does not stop there. Lee Kyung-young is playing another similar character in SBS’s Friday-Saturday drama “Why Her”, which started airing on the same day as “Doctor Lawyer”. In “Why Her”, he plays Hansoo Group Chairman Han Sang-beom who commits all kinds of corruption with the head of the law firm the main character works at and members of the National Assembly.

Doctor Lawyer vs Why Her?

In addition, Im Soo-hyang, who plays prosecutor Geum Seok-young in “Doctor Lawyer”, is also appearing in overlapping roles as assistant writer Oh Woo-ri in SBS’s ongoing Monday-Tuesday drama “Woori The Virgin”. 

heo sung tae

Actor Heo Sung-tae is also starring in a drama that is currently on air. Heo has been acting as Cho Won-pyo in the KBS2 Monday-Tuesday drama “Bloody Heart,” which has been on air since May 2nd. At the same time, he is also starring in JTBC’s Wednesday-Thursday drama “Insider,” which first aired on June 8th, as Yoon Byung-wook, a senior prosecutor at the Financial Tax Investigation Division of the Central District Prosecutors’ Office. There is a difference in the story background as one set in Joseon Dynasty and the other in the present, but both roles are someone who holds power and wields power.

Heo Sung Tae

Jeon Kook-hwan, who played Kim Gun-young, chairman of Cheonha Group, who resisted Cho Tae-seop in “Again My Life,” has also been appearing as the former Prime Minister Han Pan-ro, who even uses his family for his own benefit in the SBS Wednesday-Thursday drama “Eve.”

The continuous appearance of actors in dramas at a similar timeslot is an obstacle for viewers to focus on any drama. With such a small number of actors dominating those roles, they are reducing the chance of new faces, including rookies, appearing in public.

seo ye-ji

Lim Soo-hyang, who is appearing as a prosecutor in MBC’s Friday-Saturday drama “Doctor Lawyer” (left), and an assistant writer in SBS’ Monday-Tuesday drama “From Today, We Are.”

Kim Heon-sik, a pop culture critic, said, “In the past, only a few actors appeared recklessly regardless of the timeslot and characters. However, recently, many are playing only a few similar types of character as well as overlapping timeslot. This phenomenon is becoming more pronounced, especially among supporting roles,” he said.

Critic Kim pointed out that the actors’ overlapping appearances of the same character type eventually adversely affect the viewers and fellow actors. “The opportunity for viewers to enjoy their drama time is being violated due to the overlapping appearances with the monopoly of a few actors,” he said. “Actors of smaller agencies are not getting the opportunity to appear in front of viewers. This is the result of the production team’s failure to actively discover new faces,” he said. “In the end, the industry is giving financial technology and job placement to only a few actors.”

im soo hyang doctor lawyer

The broadcasting station also complains about the problem of overlapping actors. They explained that some genres have been loved a lot recently, and there are not many actors who fit those genres. An official from a broadcasting station said, “The trend these days is these few genres, but the reality is that there are not many main and supporting actors who can play those specific genres,” adding, “The overlapping appearance is not what the broadcasting station wanted, and it is just a coincidence.” Producer Lee Yong-seok also said about the overlapping appearance at the “Doctor Lawyer” production presentation held on Jun 3rd, “The overlapping appearance problem happened before I got to say anything. If the schedule overlapped, the actors wouldn’t have done it, but unfortunately it happened,” adding, “No one wants it and it’s not a problem to blame anyone.”

Source: nate

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