It has been a pretty awful launch for tvN’s big buzz drama Hwayugi, and now the production is taking a week off to regroup and get back on track, with this weekend’s planned airings of Episodes 3 and 4 being pushed back to next weekend (January 6 & 7) instead. That means no episodes till the new year, when they’ll resume with their normal schedule.
The troubled launch was a shame since the problems were all behind-the-scenes; the story itself got off to a strong start and general positive reception. It’s just that the production has been hit with issue after issue, and that rather overshadows the narrative side of the show.
On December 26, a crew member of “Hwayugi” was belatedly revealed to have been severely injured while working on set.
The accident itself occurred early morning on December 23, the same day “Hwayugi” premiered. According to earlier reports, the crew member was working to hang a chandelier from the ceiling at the request of a producer, when he fell from a height of over 3 meters (approximately 9.84 feet), breaking his spine and hip bone. His pelvis was reported to have hit the ground first, then his head, upon which he began to show symptoms of cerebral hemorrhaging.
Based on one source’s account, the crew member was unconscious as he was being taken to the emergency room, and may be paralyzed from the waist down. The initial professional opinion was that the crew member “could also become brain dead,” but his mental capacity has returned to the point he is able to recognize his wife, children, and other family members. The crew member’s family is reported to be preparing to sue the producer who requested for him to work on the set at early hours.
The crew member is a member of the artistic team from MBC Art, a subsidiary of MBC, and is currently acting as one of the set managers under a service contract with JS Pictures, the production company of “Hwayugi.”
“Hwayugi” aired as planned on December 23, and reportedly, the production company JS Pictures as well as tvN were initially quiet about the accident.
In response, the Ministry of Employment and Labor sent a labor supervisor to inspect the set. Moreover, now a police investigation has been opened as well: The company representing the injured staffer, MBC Art, has pressed charges with the police against Hwayugi’s production house, JS Pictures, as well as its CEO and art director, for criminal negligence resulting in injury and also for threats and intimidation.
Another hit for tvN drama 'A Korean Odyssey' as production may come to a complete halt— mes #TeamPinky (@OH_mes) December 28, 2017
Ministry of Employment/Labor will investigate the site of the accident where a staff fell 3m
MBC Art claims it was b/c of cheap material used to cut production costshttps://t.co/3EoobsrJ5D pic.twitter.com/Z1RcsFQJ36
As a result, tvN announced today that it would be postponing broadcasts by a week in order to inspect the production environment. A rep apologized for the trouble and stated that work would be done to ensure improved conditions and future safety on sets.
“Hwayugi” will include director Kim Jung Hyun moving forward for a more stable broadcast.
tvN representatives for “Hwayugi” revealed, “It’s true that Kim Jung Hyun has been appointed director. [He] will make ‘Hwayugi’ alongside director Park Hong Kyun.”
Director Kim Jung Hyun produced MBC’s “Gu Family Book” with director Shin Woo Chul, and is well known for producing fantasy historical dramas. “Hwayugi” aims to become an improved, high quality drama with the addition of director Kim Jung Hyun.
tvN drama 'A Korean Odyssey' issues Round 3? Round 4?— mes #TeamPinky (@OH_mes) December 29, 2017
They unilaterally fired one of their lighting teams 1 week before the first broadcast.
Upon hearing this, the director of the team also quit. They're working with replacements nowhttps://t.co/2FrFPBqprl pic.twitter.com/6WWNIc2lck
Sources: Dramabeans/News1/Yonhap News/Kyunghyang | Soompi/Naver 1 2/HeraldCorp | @OH_mes/Naver | Soompi/Sports Chosun/Nate | @OH_mes/Naver