Korean adaptation of ‘Suits’ adds local color to popular U.S. drama

April 24, 2018
Actors Jang Dong-gun (L) and Park Hyung-sik attend a press event for "Suits" in Seoul on April 23, 2018. (Yonhap)

Actors Jang Dong-gun (L) and Park Hyung-sik attend a press event for “Suits” in Seoul on April 23, 2018. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, April 23 (Yonhap) — The highly-anticipated Korean adaptation of American legal drama “Suits” is set to premiere Wednesday. On the same day, the popular series will broadcast its season 7 finale in the U.S.

Premiered in June 2011 on the cable network USA, the U.S. series is being remade overseas for the first time in Korea. Its second announced redo is the Arabic adaptation.

Park Sung-hye, CEO of the Seoul-based production company Monster Union, said during a press event in Seoul on Monday that the company had been planning for several years to produce the remake.

She added that the company has been incredibly lucky to cast two actors — Jang Dong-gun and Park Hyung-sik — who will play an unlikely legal ensemble in the critically acclaimed New York-based legal drama.

Jang will play Choi Kang-seok, the Korean version of Harvey Specter, the legendary, charismatic hotshot lawyer who works at the country’s top law firm. Park will take the role of Choi’s partner, Koh Yeon-woo, the Korean Mike Ross, who is hired by Choi as his personal associate for his photographic memory and high intelligence even though he has no license to practice law.

Actor Jang, 46, is returning to the small screen after he last appeared in the 20-episode “A Gentleman’s Dignity” on SBS in 2012.

After appearing in a series of dark crime thrillers, including “Seven Years of Night” and “V.I.P.,” in recent years, the actor said he wanted to be in a “more upbeat and bright” drama or film.

“I decided to join the drama without watching the original series. Then I watched the show and found it very interesting and appealing,” he said. “I stopped watching midway through the first season because I was afraid of unwittingly copying the character.”

Emphasizing the importance of the drama’s localization to appeal to the local audience, he said, “There are natural changes in the characters and revisions to reflect Korean law and legal situations.”

The idol-turned-actor Park, a member of boy group ZE:A, expressed anticipation to work together with senior actor Jang and said he would do his best to demonstrate bromance, an essential element to depict how the legal duo works closely together to close cases.

The charm and power of characters will play a very important role in making the show successful, said producer Kim Jin-woo.

“Characters play a crucial role in storytelling, so it is really important for me to make the characters relatable. All the episodes are created in the way that they support and explain the characters,” he said.

While acknowledging the pressure to remake the highly successful American show, he said the Korean version would have merit in its own unique way.

“We don’t want to copy but to interpret (the original) in our own way,” he said, adding he tried to strike a balance between keeping to the original storyline and trying to instill Korean color and originality into the adaptation.

The 16-episode drama will go on air at 10 p.m. on KBS 2TV Wednesday.

A poster for "Suit" in this image provided by KBS 2TV. (Yonhap)

A poster for “Suit” in this image provided by KBS 2TV. (Yonhap)