Earlier this year, actor Yeo Jin Goo was confirmed as the lead role in the large-scale $2 million-budget sci-fi fantasy film “Kwon Bob” (aka Martial Arts). However, a controversy has arisen concerning the distributor, CJ EM, who offered actor Kim Soo Hyun the lead role while in the state of already having signed with Yeo Jin Goo, in conjunction with talks about Yeo Jin Goo stepping down from the role.
A high-ranking official from Yeo Jin Goo’s agency said, “On the afternoon that the news on Yeo Jin Goo stepping down from the film was released, we met with the production company and decided to step down. If they had cancelled the contract before offering the role to another actor, we wouldn’t have been this upset. This was a huge blow to the young actor who has yet to even come of age.”
“Kwon Bob” is a Korean-Chinese large scale collab project between CJ EM and China Film Group (CFG), and the Chinese production company PegasusTaihe Entertainment will be co-distributing, sponsoring, and producing the film. One theory about the reasoning behind all of the controversy is that the Chinese side of the project, which is providing a large portion of the film budget, requested that the Hallyu star Kim Soo Hyun be cast as the lead role; the actor recently having gained huge popularity in China and abroad after “Man From the Stars.” However, CJ EM denied this, saying that there was no word from their Chinese partners to any effect on the matter.
The other theory is that there was a problem concerning Yeo Jin Goo’s contract with another film that was signed for after he signed on with “Kwon Bob.” The young actor is set to star in the film “Shoot Me in the Heart,” based on Jung Yoo Jung’s best-selling novel, which will be filmed from May through July. There will be no overlap with the schedule for “Kwon Bob,” which was planned to start in August. However, one official stated that the time in between the two movies is no longer than two weeks. “For an actor to prepare for a new film, he needs some time, but because of the short downtime between films, it seems the production company and the Yeo Jin Goo’s management had a difference in opinion.”
Kim Soo Hyun’s agency also spoke up on the matter. “At the end of last year, before filming started for ‘Man from the Stars,’ we had received a casting offer, and we declined. However, after ‘Man From the Stars’ ended, we were asked again to look over the film.”
When asked if they did not know that Yeo Jin Goo had signed on for the film, Kim Soo Hyun’s agency said, “We received the offer, and we just said we’d look it over. I don’t think we’re the right people to ask about the talk of Yeo Jin Goo stepping down.” In the end, Kim Soo Hyun declined the offer once again.
“Kwon Bob,” which has been in production status for roughly 10 years, has now gone through two main leads, first Jo In Sung, who stepped down from the film due to continuous delay, and now Yeo Jin Goo, and Kim Soo Hyun has declined the film as well. The question remains as to whether, especially now, after this controversy, another actor will take on the lead role, or if the project will just be cancelled altogether.