Onew leaves Age of Youth 2, last-minute replacement sought
With the much-anticipated Age of Youth 2 set to premiere in less than two weeks, it was a particularly sticky time for a cast member to be hit with controversy, as was the case with SHINee member Onew (Descended From the Sun) over the weekend when he was accused of sexual assault. That put a dark cloud over the production for Age of Youth 2, and ultimately it has been decided that Onew will leave the show.
Onew was accused of sexual assault by a woman he encountered at a club (regarding two instances of unwanted bodily contact). His explanation called it a misunderstanding that arose as he was dancing while drunk, leading to the unintended contact. The woman later dropped the accusation and both sides are said to have reached an understanding. According to his management company, SM Entertainment, Onew spoke with the producers before coming to the decision to leave the show, and apologized for stirring criticism.
Given that the matter was settled before it turned into a lawsuit or charges, I hadn’t expected Onew to leave the show; there have been enough instances of actors encountering scandal and continuing with their roles. However, this show hasn’t yet aired, and perhaps the drama production felt they had (barely!) enough time to scramble to find a replacement. (In my very unscientific memory, when scandals break before shows premiere, there seems to be a higher chance of the actor leaving; it’s when shows are already on the air that it’s more tricky to write them out or replace them.) And perhaps the accusation (albeit dropped) created a particularly uncomfortable situation, since Onew was to be romantically paired with Han Seung-yeon in a “healing relationship” while her character recovered from trauma after spending last season being physically abused by her boyfriend.
In any case, according to a source with the production, the team is in talks regarding a replacement. With only ten days left, they’ll have to move quickly. Age of Youth 2 kicks off on JTBC next Friday, August 25.
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