Drama Casting & News
Lee Byung-heon won’t star in IRIS sequel
by | November 30, 2009 | 69 Comments

With ratings topping 30% and commanding a lot of attention thanks to its blockbuster budget and high-profile cast, KBS’s spy drama IRIS had announced a high possibility that a second season would be produced. On November 30, CEO Jung Tae-won of production house Taewon Entertainment confirmed the sequel, saying, “Casting will take place after the director has been decided, but we have decided to produce a Season 2 of IRIS.” However, because its cast is composed of top names with busy schedules, the likelihood of their returns is in question, and star Lee Byung-heon will not be the second season’s hero.

CEO Jung went on to explain, “It’s difficult to talk of concrete filming schedules, but from the start of IRIS‘s planning, we were thinking to make a Season 2, similar to American dramas Prison Break or CSI. Since we haven’t yet given thought to broadcast stations, the title may even change. From the start, the most important consideration was deciding whether we would start fresh with a new cast and story, or whether we would continue with the plot of Season 1. However, because the first season is busily filming, it has been difficult to finalize a decision.”

Regarding the casting of the current season’s actors, Jung said, “We are in discussions regarding several different possible directions. However, Lee Byung-heon will be busy next year filming the sequel to the Hollywood film G.I.Joe, so he will probably not be able to film IRIS Season 2. Right now, we’re anticipating that he may make a special appearance in the first episode.”

The production team has secured a filming set location for the next two years, and they are discussing with the current writers the possible themes of the second season. They will film winter scenes next summer in New Zealand and Australia, and head to Italy for additional location shoots. Japan and China are also on the list of intended foreign locales.

Meanwhile, IRIS is currently holding strong on Wednesdays and Tuesdays and will wrap in three weeks. Yesterday (November 29), filming took place in the Seoul streets, blocking traffic and drawing crowds of spectators as explosions lit the sky and its lead actors raced around shooting guns.

From the November 29 Seoul shoot:

Via Star News


69 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. jm126

    Aw, that sucks… But on the bright side, the scenes look awesome!

    We just have to wait now for You’re Beautiful to get a confirmed season 2 (crosses every part of body)

  2. dramalover

    @1: YAB will not have a second season.

  3. a little taste of heaven

    @2 wat makes u so sure?


    I would love for YAB to have a season 2. But my head tells me that it is highly unlikely due to a low rating and online viewers seem to account not tomuch.
    However my heart tells me not to give up hope. So YAB fighting!

    Oh and I’m not watching IRIS.

  5. yabb

    Hmm, actually I don’t think there is a need for season 2. A special epsidoe is good enough for me.

  6. LOL-ed

    this is supposed to be a post for IRIS right?
    HAHA ppl why talk about YB here?lol

    im really still on to YB..
    YB 2 for 2010!!(hoping)

  7. yabb

    anyway oops off topic, shouldn’t discuss YAB here. And @4, yeah I’m not watching IRIS too. Seeing ppl bombing up the place just doesn’t appeal to me.

  8. Sveta

    Ah, so Storm Shadow will return in the second GI Joe movie πŸ˜€ Woohoo!

  9. belleza

    Hmm, that looks like they’re doing a Heat-style shoot.

    Can’t see how a S2 is possible without casting big fish. Really only 2 guys I can see who has the Hallyu catchet and athleticism to lead another big-budget spy thriller: Song Seung Heon and Rain. Hmm, there’s an idea. Rain in the lead male role, Song Hye Kyo in the lead female role, 3 Bears Dance with rifles in Matrix slow-mo. They can call it Iris 2: A Full House to Kill.

    Season 2: You’re Beautiful Spy, starring UEE as Go Mi Way, a Russian-Korean-Jamaican spy and Jung Yong Hwa as Shin Woo, a professional killer, womanizer, and all-around loud guy. Special guest: Lee Byung Hun as Storm Shadow Android and . . . ahh it’s too late in the night can’t think of anything else I go sleep now . . .

  10. 10 Sharon

    Really expect to watch the episode on the great scene in Guang Hwa Mun Place, where I have recently visited a few weeks ago when I travelled to Korea. If only I had gone there yesterday! It should be great! But, even though I am not there, I would still find it interesting to see this episode to take place in a place where I have visited!

  11. 11 Artemis

    So I am guessing LBH’s character does not die in this series. I thought that was a big possibility. If he’s not there then I don’t think I’ll watch it – he is the big draw for me.

    As for GI Joe – geez what a horrible movie. I watched it only for LBH and still couldn’t finish it. πŸ™

    Those pictures from the shoot are so spoilerish (considering subs are only available through epsiode 10). Note to self: I really should stop reading anything that has to do with the shows I am watching. ^_^

  12. 12 Aries

    Luckily, IRIS gets better from episode 8 onwards when the plot moves along to the second arc. If a second season is really produced, I would rather watch one with a fresh start and a new plot instead of a continuation from season 1. I just hope everything will be resolved properly in season 1 instead of being frustrated by those season finale cliffhangers.

  13. 13 ripgal

    IRIS without LBH? Don’t think I will be tuning in then..

    IRIS is already waning down, action-wise it’s great, but story and plot-wise – BLEH. Even LBH’s not doing it for me, tho he’s like the only intriguing character (and also actor) in it…

    If the remaining 6 episodes can salvage the whole drama for me, I might reconsider the sequel. But I’m very doubtful… less they get a good scriptwriter..

  14. 14 cheekbones

    I thought IRIS had finished filming by the time it began airing….

  15. 15 rubie

    Maybe it’s just me.. but I’m actually glad that he’s not doing IRIS 2. It’s already almost a year preparing for the drama & movie.

    Sure hope the rumor at Twitch of LBH reuniting with Dir. KJW in a movie with Choi Min Sik will come true though.. pleasepleaseplease!

    Thanks JB for an IRIS post although.. you know..

  16. 16 Agent Darwin

    Ideal casting will be LBH remains the lead actor and KTH should perhaps excuse herself!! ^^

  17. 17 .

    That’s right. Lee Byung Han has got better things to move on to. Lol.

  18. 18 dangermousie

    I love IRIS to bits (it’s by far my favorite kdrama this year), but I have no interest in the second season – I want the story wrapped up and done. I might check out whatever it is the makers do in that world again or whatever, but I want those original “season 1” characters put to rest in whatever way – to get their definite final conclusion.

    And if LBH isn’t in it, my interest does go significantly down.

  19. 19 omo

    Watched up till Ep 5 & 6 on KBSWorld last week and with a blockbuster budget and impressive cast, this drama is wayyyy toooo slow for an action thriller. Atrocious screenplay period. If people says it gets better, I certainly hope so because for me, it is really under-performing given the high budget. Not really in favor of S2 with or without LBH.

  20. 20 'cille

    @ #9 belleza – i was thoroughly entertained reading your comment. (^_~)

    as for IRIS getting a second season – well, i’m sure there are a lot of people that would want to watch it. the only thing i dont understand with sequels from hallywood is that they change the actors and storylines a lot – so really it shouldn’t be called sequels at all. LEE BYUNG-HEON is one hot man.

    now if there was talks of sequel to YB – i’m sure all the lead actors will be back.. but as #4 shalini said one must not give up hope…

    happy monday to all!

  21. 21 Nanaee

    Awww… I want a season 2 for YAB too… I love it so much that i watch it over and over again… damn.. why is it over so quickly?

  22. 22 Fel

    Am I the only one laughing from that first picture on the second row? It’s just… too comical!

  23. 23 y2b

    going off topic here but…
    ahhh..what to do next wed and thurs?can’t get over..
    YB please come back.

  24. 24 Brendel

    Still have to watch a single episode of IRIS. Not much of a fan of action-spy dramas.

  25. 25 nycgrl

    IRIS is barely watchable now thanks to the pretty flimsy plot and lack of chemistry between the main leads. Without LBH it would be just awful and even his acting and charisma can’t sustain a drama beyond 10 episodes.

  26. 26 YBlover

    i want a you’re beautiful season 2!
    aja aja pple fighting

  27. 27 tb01

    I don’t think I realized how good LBH’s acting was until I started watching IRIS. I guess I assumed he was just a face (I’ve only seen him in λ†ˆλ†ˆλ†ˆ, but I’ll probably check out some of his other work now that I’ve seen what he can do). KTH is ok, though there are a few moments when her acting drops enough to pull me out of immersion. Kim So Yeon and Jung Jun Ho are prety good, Kim Seung Woo is very good (haven’t seen his work but I think he usually has more romance-oriented roles…but he’s very convincing in IRIS). The one that ruins scenes for me is TOP–his acting just flat out sucks. I know he’s young and relatively inexperienced but he’s so incredibly cheesy that I can’t help but wonder if he was just included to pull in the Big Bang fanbase for ratings. He acts like a stone cold killer the way a sugar-bombed 6-year old might play dress-up and pretend, with a wanksta english accent thrown in for extra barfy flavor. I guess that goes well with some of the weaker plot points in IRIS, though. I wish K-drama writers were given more time to do their homework because whenever the plot starts scaling up to international politics or business, the “intrigue” goes limp and generic. Oh, and get some people who actually speak Japanese to play the Japanese parts (fake Yakuza, bro!)

    As for the second season, I would actually prefer a revamped cast in sort of a second generation of NSS style. LBH’s character could still die in season 1 and appear in flashbacks in season 2 (for his proposed appearance in ep.1), so no spoiler there. I hope they tighten up the scale of the main plotline, though, because Koreans just seem to do the intense close-quarters style so much better. Ditch the distracting fluff and ratings grabs, and just focus on making it a good political/action thriller. I just hope this first season doesn’t end up spewing nonsense all over itself the way Lobbyist or Swallow the Sun did–it was like watching a US senator try to describe the workings of the internet.

    (edited for typo)

  28. 28 lucky_kiss

    I don’t think I’ll stand to watch IRIS S2 without LBH.

  29. 29 nycgrl

    @ tb01

    Much as I love TOP and Big Bang I have to admit his acting is pretty bad. If I turn down the sound and just watch him it works fine and I can admire his hot eyes with the guyliner. Also I love the song “Hallelujah” but anyone else thinks its really badly melded with the scenes in ep 9 and 10. Its downright awkward and jarring to the point of laughter. The production value must be dropping with each episode.

    Not to nitpick **potential spoilers ahead**, BUT thats what you do when the plot makes no sense and your not immersed enough to suspend reality but why the hell didn’t KTH leave the NSS headquarters after getting a handle of the situation in episode 10. Did she think she can bring down the entire band of terrorists herself even after seeing the number of fallen NSS comrades they laid waste to? Also why the hell didn’t she shoot LBH in the back considering she had no idea who the hell he is. Also who in god’s name could believe she could bring down that burly fellow in the pathologist’s office after he punches her in the face and throws her through glass. She isn’t buffy for goodness sake and why, why for the love of god would the unnamed north korean spygirl (LDW’s assistant lady in My Girl and korean playboy pinup) wear 4 inch heels to go into combat!!! Is she facing off on runway battle.

    So why am I watching this you say? Hubby likes it and he can’t seem to understand how sub files and HD files work.

  30. 30 mimmay

    I’m absolutely enjoying IRIS. It’s getting so exciting. I was totally on the edge of my seat watching episode 10. I didn’t think I can fall any more in love with LBH but he’s totally reaffirming my love for him. He is just incredibly awesome. I don’t know if IRIS part 2 would be any good without him. It would be hard for another actor to fill his shoes. Well, actually I’d like to see Gong Yoo in an action flick. Maybe he can take over for LBH since he will be out soon.

  31. 31 kang

    I want Kim Tae Hee in the next Iris sequel if any. Male actor(s) can be changed. No other actress is both cute, beautiful, sharp as Kim Tae Hee to fit the main female role.

  32. 32 sukispop

    #9 belleza-

    Your quote: “Hmm, there’s an idea. Rain in the lead male role, Song Hye Kyo in the lead female role, 3 Bears Dance with rifles in Matrix slow-mo. They can call it Iris 2: A Full House to Kill.”

    Too funny! You almost had my ramen broth all over the keyboard! LOL

    It was kinda strange, seeing the first few posts be about You’re Beautiful…and funny. I’m also one who was completely entrenched with YB…just a wonderful rom com that didn’t disappoint me at all. But~this is supposed to be about the very possible Season 2 of IRIS…so…

    I managed to watch the first few eps of IRIS, while awaiting the upcoming eps of YB, and would’ve watched more…but the IRIS powers-that-be really restricted the availability of their eps to be viewed at the various sites. What I was able to watch I enjoyed very much. A fast, fun, and entertaining “larger than life” k-drama with production values equivalent to that of a very polished big screen movie. This was the first time I’ve watched LBH in anything, and, man, he’s the real thing, isn’t he? A ruggedly good looking guy who can truly act, he deserves all the kudos I’ve seen written about him.

    The prospects of a Season 2 of IRIS, without LBH at the helm…I just can’t imagine. In so many ways, he’s the heart of this drama, and the resultant flavor of any Season 2 without him will be very, very different, even with another great looking quality actor at the lead role. And, we already know the low success rate of sequels to hit dramas or movies. It will be very interesting to see.

  33. 33 Agent Darwin

    @25 nycgirl: Agreed with the lack of chemistry between the lead actor and actress.

    Would you care to explain your rationale behind “IRIS is barely watchable now thanks to the pretty flimsy plot”? Thanks.

  34. 34 Unny

    @9 Belleza

    Muhahahhah “A Full House to Kill” … that actually makes sense too!!

    If LBH is not going to be in Season 2 they are better off getting a whole new cast….I for one would not like the same actress but a different lead man. It would just not feel right.. If they did a new high-profile cast, I bet S2 would also be successful. They could have like a spin-off story; not exactly like a continuation but not a total new one either.

    Well it’s not that important to me actually…although I love watching popular dramas, I don’t think I’m really into action/violence themed dramas. Good luck to Iris though. Let’s hope season 2 doesn’t air when another You’reBeautiful-esque drama is airing because then it would like steal the viewers :[ haha

  35. 35 ockoala

    @ nycgrl

    Moar IRIS rants, please.

    @ belleza

    Moar IRIS fantasies, please.

    I adore these, cuz (1) I’m not watching IRIS just yet, and (2) I’m a member of the Drool Club and need more LBH updates even though YB fever is raging unabated all around me.

    When LBH smiles, I just *melts*, he’s so handsome and charming.

    @ tb01

    For LBH highlights, I’d suggest the following:

    Drama – Beautiful Days (he is at his dreamiest and his chemistry with Choi Ji-woo is at a slow intense burn – this is my personal fave LBH drama and fave classic k-melodrama) or All In (LBH is super-suave and super adorkalicious at the same time, but Song Hye-gyo isn’t her best here and the story is only meh, he carries the drama again on his very broad shoulders).

    Movies – A Bittersweet Life or The Good, The Bad, The Weird. And for totally sexy and kinda kinky, check out Everybody Has Secrets.

  36. 36 Sere

    I really like Iris and I think I might watch s2 is it’s as good as s1 was/is. I must admit I tuned in for Iris because of LBH and JJH so yes, I’m shallow and the big names drew me in (and this is unusual for me. I usually watch kdramas whose premises I like, no matter who stars in it). I must admit that knowing LBH is not going to be the hero is not a deal-breaker for me, BUT it makes me sad. On the other hand, I’m happy for him and his international career. Bummer, though. I really, really like Hyun-joon!

    So, any rumors or fantasies about the new cast? Who would you guys like to see?

    nd head to Italy for additional location shoots
    OMG WHERE? WHEN? Finally, k-actors come to my country! Must be there to fangirl (in a quiet and non-stalkerish way).

  37. 37 ambs

    tbh YAB kind of lost its spark for me somewhere nearing the end.. go minam became too much of the helpless heroine with no spunk nearing the ending when the story was enveloped with the angst. i haven’t even watched the last two episodes and don’t know if i plan to. i was getting tired of the millions of references to stars and light/darkness. too many analogies to me screams corny. don’t get me wrong i thought YAB started off great but to me felt too kiddish as it progressed

    uh my point is i say pass on season two haha

  38. 38 Molly

    IRIS without Lee Byung-heon is a no-no! Given that Lee Byung-heon will be in the G. I. Joe sequel, I guess it’s safe to assume that Storm Shadow did not die! Whoo!

  39. 39 cate

    OMG i love LBH he’s amazing at portraying his character! i cant wait for a season 2…but i hope it keeps the full flavour of this season’s!!

  40. 40 Choi

    I love Kim Tae Hee’s acting & beauty. I believe she is the best Korean actress. She must be the main female character in the movie/drama. I prefer good main actors in this drama/movie.

    I do not like Song Hye Kyo because her face looks stupid.

  41. 41 Smith

    I love Kim Tae Hee’s acting & beauty too

  42. 42 belleza

    Storm Shadow was frozen, so really anything is possible. Who knows? Maybe he comes back as a villain who . . . sparkles when exposed to sunlight!! πŸ˜‰

    Still not sure how viable S2 Iris could be. The shoot took almost one year and the budget could finance, for example, a long-running sageuk. It makes little sense (and extremely high risk) to establish a luxe Brand through a specific event drama. Esp. when Hallyu’s currency remains romance, not explosions. Why not do something else? Why not do, say, a Korean version of CSI Miami? (cue “yeeaaaaahhhhhhhh”)

    “go minam became too much of the helpless heroine with no spunk nearing the ending when the story was enveloped with the angst.”

    Yeah, YAB began betraying its idol drama roots. The more angtsy the show got, the harder it was to emotionally connect with GMN/HTK as a real couple. Or GMN/SW as a viable alternative. The delicate bubble created around just wonderful situational comedy and vicariously living the luminous experience of the Idol, all that burst and rather brutally. Writers went with a setup where a couple did not really fight each other; instead, the Hong Sisters went with the other standard idol drama trope — the coming-of-age narrative. And they were doing just fine with that, until the obsessive mom arc took hold. Then they went away from that, and suddenly the romance became about the right music, the right tears, the right sad situation — a very J-drama approach — rather than about two kids crazy, messily in love. Still very entertaining and moving in places, but for me they as a couple kinda disappeared as the show finished.

  43. 43 blah

    well,he “probably” wont be able to do iris 2
    but we can always keep our hopes high,right?
    i really wish he will be able to though
    its so sad:[
    he looks very cute with kim tae hee!
    if not him,maybe Song Seung Hun will be the best choice
    the dude is freaking hot!
    if so,i would consider watching iris 2:]

  44. 44 Molly


    “Storm Shadow was frozen, so really anything is possible. Who knows? Maybe he comes back as a villain who . . . sparkles when exposed to sunlight!!”

    Oh dear, I hope that’s not a Twilight reference? πŸ˜‰ (Not a fan here.)

  45. 45 migy

    OMGGG. . . there will be a second G.I.Joe!!! and he will come back!!. . . WIIII πŸ™‚ this arcticle made my day loll. .. .but it’s sad to know that he won’t be in the second season πŸ™

  46. 46 nycgrl

    @ Agent Darwin

    “Would you care to explain your rationale behind β€œIRIS is barely watchable now thanks to the pretty flimsy plot”? Thanks.”

    Am I being invited to a throw down? Ok I’ll bite. Here are a few problems I find with the plot

    1) Asians in Hungary. I find it bazaar he was able to not raise suspicions from the north korean spies when they saw him at the cafe and then eluded them later when asians stick out like a sore thumb in europe especially in not-a-typical-asian-tourist place like Hungary. I don’t know about you but I notice practically every asian around me and I live in NYC. It would make more sense if they were in Japan or China where he can blend in more. Also a small quibble but why the hell wouldn’t KTH character see spies going after LBH when he was going to purchase tix and she was waiting in the car. Last I checked she is a spy though she frequently doesn’t act like one. Shouldn’t she be super alert knowing they were being pursued and look out the car once in a while?

    2) What is motive for his friend’s betrayal? This is the biggest problem for me. They were best buddies and when the director tells him to kill LBH he follows orders? That to me doesn’t make sense since there was no indication his character is capable of this betrayal. Also lets say he is motivated by jealousy, self preservation and sense of duty which maybe I can somewhat swallow, how can he then pursue KTH knowing he killed LBH and is the cause of her sorrow and depression? Who could gamely do that unless your a psychopath and feel no remorse?

    3) Why would LBH continue living with Suki’s family knowing that if the north koreans were able to find him it was a matter of time before everyone else finds out he is alive and where he lives. LBH’s character is suppose to be smart and he is a spy or at the very least he should have seen some spy movies and should have realized and he would endanger Suki’s family. He should have booked out of there like a bat out of hell as soon as KSY’s character found him.

    There are other problems (see post #29) and others floating in my head but thinking of these things is making me all annoyed again.

  47. 47 Lil


    1) If you watch one of IRIS’ bts clips, there is a scene where KTH ran out from the car. We don’t know where she was going. But she did leave the car.

    2)According to the IRIS novel, which tells more about Sawoo’s character than the drama, Sawoo has always been “jealous” of Hyungjoon’s success. He grew up in an environment where his father would often compare him to HJ. Baek San seems to know this point so he forced it in. Eliminating HJ was his only chance to turn the table. Of course, getting SH was also a factor in his decision. I think part of him still regrets his decision (I’m not sure how far you are in but it shows), but he is in too deep now to go back.

    3)Up to that point, he did not know about IRIS. He didn’t realized TOP was following him. The North did not realized that Sunhwa would “betray” them, so they trusted her with that mission. Where else would HJ go? No one knows about him in Akita. That was his hideaway while he plans his escape (which he was).

  48. 48 nycgrl

    I’m in ep 10.

    I’ll take your word on #1 and 2 since I haven’t seen the BTS or read the novel but #2 is still problematic for me. If he feels regret that is good news since it shows he isn’t a sociopath but why is he buying her the necklace and visiting her. Most people with moral core would feel too much guilt to pursue the thing we covet if we went about getting the opportunity not only in a underhanded way but a murderous way. It would be more realistic to show him still desiring her but feeling uncomfortable around her and avoiding her due to his guilt. The fact that he is even contemplating a relationship with her makes his character completely unrealistic which I can accept in a Makjang drama but not in a melodrama.

    #3 Yes he didn’t know about IRIS but if the North can figure out he is alive shouldn’t he guess that his old NSS buddies would know sooner or later too? The guy has enemies in the north and enemies in the south so once his location is compromised he needs to move on. Also note they were still in Akita when KSY’s character told him her family was killed. She also told him she couldn’t go back if she didn’t kill him. He should have known to leave with or without KSY at that point knowing the north will come for him and potentially NSS.

  49. 49 Lil

    I don’t get why people who go “I dont want to watch Iris because it doesnt appeal to me” or “YAB IS BETTER! I REFUSE TO WATCH IRIS.” I love YAB too, but also a fan of Iris. I have to admit I didn’t like Iris storyline when i heard of it since I’m not a fan of shooting, action drama/movie and such. But I tried to watch it and i have to say it’s very good. So why not try to watch Iris, it’s a good drama imo. YAB is a good one also, so try to watch two, enjoy it, no need to compare which one is better.

  50. 50 Lil (#47)


    3) Sunhwa told him about her parents after Yuki was killed……so up until then he is still bidding on the fact that she will kill after “he finishes what he has to do.” At that point, he really doesn’t care whether he dies or not. Part of him died already, HJ in Akita was a charactering planning his revenge. He doesn’ t care if she killed him afterwards, he had to do what he had to do….

    And we are giving away too many spoilers.I apologize.

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