The Impact of Scandal on K-Dramas: A Look at Recent Series Cancellations

Netflix's Good Bye Earth
canceled dramas
Credit: UAA, OSEN, Lotte Entertainment

Recently, there has been a surge in the number of dramas that have been called off due to controversies surrounding lead actors, including incidents of drug use and school violence.

JTBC’s ‘Fly High Butterfly’

Set in a small-town barbershop, Fly High, Butterfly follows the journeys of individuals striving to love themselves and achieve their dreams amidst the challenges of the workplace. The drama marks the comeback of writer Park Yeon Seon, who penned Hello, My Twenties Season 2 four years ago. Initially, the drama was set to air in 2021 after the completion of filming, but due to the controversy surrounding the lead actress, Sim Eun Woo, its airing was indefinitely postponed and was unable to be broadcast for a year. Eventually, the drama was released on a Taiwanese broadcasting company and streaming platform.

Dear M
Credit: KBS
KBS’s ‘Dear M’

KBS’s Dear M was canceled just before its first broadcast. It was originally scheduled to air in February 2021, but the lead actress Park Hye Soo was embroiled in a controversy over school violence, leading to an indefinite postponement of the drama’s release. Since the filming was already completed and the female lead character played a major role, the controversy could not be mitigated through editing. Last year, Dear M also failed to be scheduled for broadcast and ended up being released only in Japan through a streaming platform.

Netflix's Good Bye Earth
Netflix’s ‘Good Bye Earth

Yoo Ah In, who has apologized for his drug controversies, is also facing difficulties with his upcoming projects. The cast of the series Good Bye Earth is concerned that the show may not be released this year due to the controversy. They expressed their disappointment that the show, which involved the hard work and sacrifices of many people, may not be released.

Some dramas cannot be broadcasted due to issues with the content itself. One such drama is Joseon Exorcist, which had completed 80 percent of its pre-production but caused a stir when all episodes were scrapped after only one episode aired due to historical distortion controversies.

JTBC succeeded in airing Snowdrop, which was also surrounded by various controversies. However, its follow-up series, Until the Morning Comes, never made it to air. Originally slated to air in the first half of last year, the show became practically unwatchable even for its star-studded cast, including Han Suk Kyu and Jung Yu Mi, due to controversies surrounding the original author. There were talks of a seasonal system where the first 8 episodes of the 16-episode series would be released first, but even this plan fell apart after discussions to continue filming the remaining episodes failed.

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