Big-name stars return to small screen

By Park Jin-hai

After the much-hyped drama "Descendants of the Sun" and its lead actor Song Joong-ki dominated the local entertainment industry in the first half of this year, big-name stars prepare to return to the small screen to captivate drama fans both domestic and abroad for the rest of the season.

A-listers itching for their comebacks in the second half this year include Lee Min-ho, Song Seung-heon, Lee Jong-suk, Kim Woo-bin, Jun Ji-hyun and Lee Young-ae.

The first heartthrob coming to the small screen is Kim Woo-bin, who will return in the upcoming KBS2 romance drama series "Uncontrollably Fond," premiering July 6.

The 26-year-old model-turned-actor, who has recently worked on movies, returns to the small screen after three years since he played the role of a bad boy millionaire in the 2013 show "The Heirs."

Kim will star as Shin Jun-young, a popular singer-actor who falls in love with documentary producer Noeul, portrayed by K-pop singer and actress Suzy. Following the preproduction system of "Descendants," the new 20-episode KBS drama finished shooting in April, in order to gain advance approval from Chinese censors to target the country's massive drama market.

Penned by screenwriter Lee Kyung-hee, famous for classic romance dramas including "I'm Sorry, I Love You (2004)," the drama's recently unveiled teaser shows Kim asking his romantic interest to go on an "intense three-month" date, fueling excitement among eager drama fans.

On July 20, Lee Jong-suk, 26, follows with the new MBC fantasy thriller drama series "W." Lee, who rose to stardom with "School 2013" in 2012 and the 2014 drama "Pinocchio," will return to the small screen as an Olympic gold medalist who later studies computer engineering and becomes a successful young entrepreneur.

In October, top actors Song Seung-heon and Lee Young-ae will return with the new SBS drama "Saimdang, Diary of Light."

They have finished filming the much-anticipated drama about Shin Saimdang (1504-1551), a respected painter and mother of the renowned Confucian scholar Yi I of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910).

In the drama, Lee, 45, who's starred in numerous Korean dramas including the worldwide hit "Jewel in the Palace (2003)," will play a double role as Shin Saimdang and the modern-day Seo Ji-yoon who stumbles upon the diary of Saimdang. Song will play the role of artist Lee Gyeom.

Last but not least are Lee Min-ho, who was crowned as the most influential actor during the 2016 Weibo Movie Night awards ceremony in China recently, and Jun Ji-hyun, the heroine of megahit drama "My Love from the Star."

They star in the SBS drama tentatively titled "The Legend of the Blue Sea," scheduled to premiere in November. It has gained much attention from drama fans as it was written by screenwriter Park Ji-eun, who wrote "My Love from the Star."

The fantasy romance drama takes its motif from the mermaid story in "Eou yadam," a popular collection of Joseon folk tales. The folk tale records that real-life figure Kim Dam Nyeong released mermaids caught by fishermen back into the sea.