These Korean blockbusters and mega-hit TV series all had strong male leads. Surprisingly, none of them had been the initial cast the production tried to sign!
1. Gong Yoo vs. Song Joong Ki
The Descendants of the Sun team initially had actor Gong Yoo in mind for the role of Captain Yoo Si Jin. Unfortunately, with long periods of overseas shooting, mandatory short hairstyle, and 100% pre-production requirement, the role was difficult to cast. Along with Gong Yoo, actors Won Bin, Jo In Sung, and Kim Woo Bin were offered but turned down the role.
Song Joong Ki gained a tremendous amount of international popularity with his appearance in the show as the special forces unit leader, and met actress Song Hye Kyo to whom he later got married. Sadly, the two divorced after 20 months of marriage.
2. Won Bin vs. Ha Jung Woo
For the role of the leading grim reaper Gangrim in the Korean blockbuster “Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds”, actors Won Bin, Gong Yoo, and Kim Woo Bin were first considered. Won Bin turned down the role because the movie was a fantasy genre and he wanted to return to screen with a mellow film.
Actor Ha Jung Woo truly embraced Gangrim the grim reaper role and led the movie to become 2018’s first to break 10 million views.
3. Park Bo Gum vs. Lee Seung Gi
A Korean Odyssey attracted quite a bit of attention as singer-and-actor Lee Seung Gi‘s first TV series since his release from military duty, but Lee Seung Gi’s role of Son Oh Gong the Monkey King was first offered to actor Park Bo Gum. When Park Bo Gum turned down the role, Lee Seung Gi confirmed to appear.
Lee Seung Gi turned A Korean Odyssey into a successful window to get back into the spotlight. Unfortunately, the show itself suffered after it became involved in an on-site accident of a production staff, causing quite a controversy among the Korean viewers and a significant drop in ratings.
4. Kim Soo Hyun vs. Yoo Ah In
Initially, actor Kim Soo Hyun had been considered for the role of the Crown Prince Sado in the historical period movie, “The Throne”. When Kim Soo Hyun turned down, actor Yoo Ah In was sought and confirmed to join the cast.
With Yoo Ah In’s passionate and award-winning acting, and the well-known, most controversial storyline of the condemned-to-death prince and his father, “The Throne” did well in theaters and is now available on Netflix.
5. Song Joong Ki vs. Joo Ji Hoon
Kingdom was the to be the second Korean original Netflix series to air. For this historical period set zombie thriller, actor Song Joong Ki was discussed for the main male lead. However, the actor turned the role down because the schedule wouldn’t allow, as he had to get ready for his wedding. Then actor Joo Ji Hoon accepted the role and the drama.
Kingdom aired to critical acclaim, and despite the controversies it occurred during its production, it received a second season, which came to Netflix in March 2020.