River Where the Moon Rises (달이 뜨는 강) is a Korean Drama produced by Victory Content Production. Initially, it was starring Ji Soo as On Dal (the main lead) in this drama. It is based on the novel Princess Pyeonggang (2010) by film director and screenwriter Choi Sagyu. It premiered on KBS2 on February 15, 2021, and new episodes are aired every Monday and Tuesday at 21:30 (KST). After releasing of 6 episodes of the drama, on 24 March 2021 Victory Content Production reported that they would re-film episodes 1 to 6 of River Where the Moon Rises (달이 뜨는 강) in light of the event of replacement of Ji Soo with Na In-Woo.
Why did this happen? What lead to this? Re-filming episodes mean double the investments and expenses without any extra profit for the production house. They would then have to pay everyone for the second time for the same work. Why did the production house felt mandated to take such an economic risk?
Kim Ji Soo Accused of Violence and Abuse
Actually, while the show was ongoing with Kim Ji-soo (the main lead), he was accused of violence, bullying, assault, and filming sex videos by a classmate from Seorabeol Middle School, where they studied together from 2006-2008. The classmate even claimed him to be a “sexual predator”.
All of this scandalous information stirred up Korean media, and Ji Soo started facing hatred from viewers and fans. Even two more classmates came forward to share their experiences. Ji Soo’s agency Keyeast Entertainment released a statement, stating that they are looking into the matter and they are investigating. All of this scandal leads Ji Soo to lose his role of On Dal in the drama “River Were The Moon Rises”. The fans of the TV show were enraged by such an incident, and the majority of the viewers wanted the new main lead cast Na In Woo to be cast even in the first 6 episodes. Well, a show is all about the audience, thus Victory Content Production house saw no other option, so they had to re-film the entire series, including episodes 1 to 6, with Na In Woo as a replacement for previous actor Ji Soo.
KBS on re-filming “River Were The Moon Rises”
KBS informed the media that they will edit out all the parts with Ji Soo in it and try to reduce the number of scenes with him the previous episodes which have already been released, and they will edit in the parts of Na In Woo replacing the scenes. They will try to reshoot only the scenes with Ji Soo to save time and resources. From episode 9, they completely re-filmed most of the scenes. KBS considered canceling out the drama totally, but they did not want to disappoint their loyal viewers.
All of the refilmed episodes are out for the viewers to enjoy. KBS took a very smart decision in such a short time span, and they even put out the re-filmed episodes as well as they are putting out new episodes.
Ji Soo’s Apology Letter on Social Media
Ji Soo posted an apology letter on Instagram saying that he sincerely wants to apologize to everyone for his wrongdoing and that there is no excuse to justify them. He became popular and succeeded in his career, but there was guilt within him that made him feel anxious.
We must also look at the fact that bullying is such a big deal, and in South Korea, the media culture is very strict and vigilant. Though there is no way to justify bullying, in South Korean media, one scandal can ruin an actor’s entire career. In the case of Kim Ji Soo, he admitted the crimes, but in some other cases, the rumors and scandals might not even be true, yet they lead to loss of roles and career, causing mental health issues among the artists. Though acts like bullying and sexual delinquency should be addressed and called out, but by forcing the crime of the person for a lifetime might not let the person improve and can further push the person into the darkness, as it is the society will not accept the person even when the person has paid for the crime, and he or she is trying to be a better person.
Obstacles faced by the series “River Where the Moon Rises”- COVID 19 and Economic Damages due to re-filming
The production of the drama faced many obstacles from the beginning. The shooting for the show was called off for some time because of COVID-19. It was said that some actors had come in contact with COVID carriers and thus had to get COVID tested and had to maintain social isolation. Most of the shooting was done when actor Ji Soo had to be removed from the show. According to Sports Today, each episode of River Where The Moon Rises is estimated at around $885,000 USD (₩1.00 billion KRW). Whereas the entire production costs around $17.7 million USD (₩20.0 billion KRW).
On March 8, 2021, the casting actors, Lee Ji Hoon, Choi Yu Hwa, alongside Wang Bit Na and Ki Eun Se, announced that they would not be asking for the payment for River Where The Moon Rises episode’s re-shooting to support the production house and minimize financial damage as they were already suffering a loss, as reported by Soompi. But the smaller actors were afraid that they might not be paid. Victory content admitted that they were facing difficulties keeping track of all the changes and payments, but they are trying to organize everything. On March 5, it was confirmed that Na In Woo would replace Ji Soo, and since then, all the 18 episodes have been re-filmed to provide to the VOD sites.
Na In Woo admitting his fear of joining ” River Where The Moon Rises” late
However, on a lighter note, viewers are enjoying the newly cast male lead as On Dal. The drama has not lost its viewership, and the show still has a rating of 8/10 from the viewers. The role of On Dal suited Na In Woo really well. The audience has reacted positively to the chemistry between Na In Woo and female lead Kim So Hyun. Na In Woo admitted that he felt anxious because he was joining late, and the audience might have certain expectations set for the role of On Dal, but the crew members supported him to portray the kind and loving character of On Dal.
On Dal is considered a fool but Na In Woo said that reading the script broke his heart. He wanted to portray the cheerful, innocent side of On Dal. Na In Woo’s popularity increased steadily after joining this drama, yet he decided to take his success slowly and steadily instead of having a huge turning point in the career.
The plot of “River Where The Moon Rises.”
The story is based on a classic Goguryeo folktale whose characters are Princess Pyeonggang and On Dal. Princess Pyeonggang (played by Kim So-Hyun) was born as a princess, but she was raised to be a person who kills sinners, also known as Yeom Ga-jin. She is an ambitious woman who wishes to re-establish the status, law, order, and power of Goguryeo and be the first female Taewang of Goguryeo ( a Taewang is equivalent to an Emperor in Korea). However, she ends us using On Dal’s (Na In-woo) feelings for her to achieve her goals of re-establishing Goguryeo.
The cast of “River Where The Moon Rises”
- Kim So-hyun as Princess Pyeonggang / Yeom Ga-jin
- Na In-woo as On Dal
- Ji Soo (previously in Ep. 1–6) as On Dal
- Lee Ji-hoon as General Go Geon
- Heo Jung-eun as young Princess Pyeonggang
- Jung Yoon-ha as baby Princess Pyeonggang
- Seo Dong-Hyun as young On Dal
- Park Min-sang as young Go Geon
- Choi Yu-Hwa as Hae Mo-Yong
Where to Watch “River Where The Moon Rises”
“River Where the Moon Rises” airs every Monday and Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. KST on the KBS2 channel which is the original network. It is also available on Viki Rakuten in different languages.
So, what is your take from the incident? What is your opinion? Let us know in the comments.