As Hawaii Five-0 heads into its new season, it will be doing so without Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park in their respective roles as Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakua as both actors have opted to leave the show.
While the exact details haven't been officially confirmed, Variety reports that Kim and Park left the show over pay claims. According to Variety, both Kim and Park were offered approximately ten to fifteen percent less than their white co-stars, Scott Caan and Alex O'Loughlin. Kim and Park were both cast regulars on hugely acclaimed shows before signing on for Hawaii Five-0; Kim was best known for Lost whilst Park was a cast regular on Battlestar Galactica.
In a statement released on Facebook, Daniel Dae Kim acknowledged the story for the first time and confirmed that he was leaving the show. "I will not be returning to Hawaii Five-0 when production starts next week. Though I made myself available to come back, CBS and I weren’t able to agree to terms on a new contract, so I made the difficult choice not to continue."
As well as thanking the cast, writers and crew, he also spoke about how the realities of being an Asian-American actor. "As an Asian American actor, I know first-hand how difficult it is to find opportunities at all, let alone play a well developed, three dimensional character like Chin Ho. I will miss him sincerely."
For their part, CBS acknowledged the pay dispute in a statement yesterday and Kim and Park's exit from the show. "Daniel and Grace have been important and valued members of 'Hawaii Five-0' for seven seasons. We did not want to lose them and tried very hard to keep them with offers for large and significant salary increases. While we could not reach an agreement, we part ways with tremendous respect for their talents on screen, as well as their roles as ambassadors for the show off screen, and with hopes to work with them again in the near future."
While money might have been the surface reason for their exit, there's clearly a bigger question about parity between different actors and why it is that white actors of comparable starpower are being paid more than others.