Go Hyun-jung leaves Return amid on-set strife
Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the production of Return fired Go Hyun-jung, the headlining actress of the well-performing SBS legal drama. According to reports, Go was given the notice by the show that she would be dropped, halfway through the drama’s run, due to “differences of opinion” between her and the drama’s PD, Joo Dong-min.
Initial reports remained vague on the circumstances, and it was puzzling to hear that a show would fire its main star with so much story left to go, especially since Return is leading in the ratings and drawing positive reception from viewers. The latest episode, which aired today (Wednesday, February 7), was the 14th of 32 total and pulled in a 17.4% rating, against KBS’s 8.7% for Black Knight.
Go Hyun-jung’s management company released a statement expressing her apologies to viewers and explaining that although she had made concerted efforts to close the gap between her and the PD, they were unable to do so. After careful deliberation, she felt it would be difficult for her to continue filming, and she received the announcement of her removal from the show from SBS; the reasoning was that regardless of fault, if one person’s presence were detrimental to the overall production, it would be necessary to remove that one person.
However, there were additional reports (which Go’s statement did not address) that there had been an act of physical violence, with Go assaulting PD Joo. One source with the broadcaster stated that the incident occurred on the 5th on the show’s set with many witnesses, and Go had cursed heavily. What started as a verbal argument escalated when Go threw her script at the PD and kicked at him. (It’s unclear whether she made contact; PD Joo was not injured.) Initially, reports stated that Go had refused to continue shooting, but it was clarified later that it was the production team who refused.
This was not the first time the two had fought; they had had frequent and intermittent arguments previously, largely over differences of opinion on her character and its direction. Moreover, filming had halted several times as well in response to these conflicts, creating a heavy mood among the production. Upon Go’s firing, a source with SBS’s drama department stated that they made that decision because they could no longer work with an unreliable actor and that the conflict with Go had become too large; they are now considering a lead replacement.
Return halted filming on February 5, and currently does not know when it will recommence filming. The show has been on an extremely tight live-shoot schedule, so the immediate future of the show is uncertain. Tomorrow’s (Thursday) episode has been pre-empted.