Return of Iljimae hasn’t started airing yet (it kicks off next week), but it’s been sold to Japan for $1.32 million (that’s $55,000 per episode, 24 episodes total).
A production company rep explains that the series was sold after buyers saw a mere 10-minute selection of highlights.
Pre-sale of a series to Japan or other Asian countries isn’t that unusual for very anticipated series (like East of Eden or A Star’s Lover), but what I find odd is that unlike those other series, Return of Iljimae doesn’t feature any big actors — the leads (Jung Il-woo, Yoon Jin-seo) are relatively new even in Korea, not to mention internationally. The supporting cast is more experienced (Kim Min-jong, Jung Hye-young), but they’re not at a carry-a-show-with-my-fame level. Furthermore, it’s a Korean historical drama without flashy fusion tricks.
The prodco rep said that for these reasons, the sale was a happy exception from the rule (of how series are usually exported with big names, big ratings, or flashy premises). I’m choosing to look at this as a positive sign for the series. (*fingers crossed*)
Return of Iljimae is MBC’s next Wednesday-Thursday drama and begins on January 21.