The Korean drama “River Where the Moon Rises,” starring actress Kim So-hyun and actor Na In-woo, aired its 20th and final episode on April 20 after going through a big crisis due to the replacement of one of its main stars.
According to Nielsen Korea, the finale of “River Where the Moon Rises” got nationwide ratings of 8.3 percent (sixth place) and 6.8 percent (ninth place) among terrestrial TV shows.
A report by Sports Chosun stated that the 8.3 percent rating put the drama in the No. 1 position on its time slot and maintained the top position in the monthly drama ratings from the first episode to the last.
“Thank you all for your generous love. I’ll come back with a better image. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you. I love you,” Na In-woo posted on Instagram on April 20.
“River Where the Moon Rises” plunged into crisis in March when actor Ji Soo, who played the main role of On Dal, was accused of school violence including bullying that he allegedly did when he was in middle school.
In an online post, his classmate at Sorabol Middle School accused Ji Soo of committing “evil deeds” in school and that he was a member of an “iljin,” a Korean term for school gang. The classmate said his group beat him up and cursed at him.
The classmate added that Ji Soo hit students with a BB gun. Ji Soo, he said, would sit in the back of a bus, open the window and shoot at students, and giggle.
He told Ji Soo, “If you want to act, do it. However, live with the title ‘School Violence Perpetrator’ Ji Soo in front of the name. The memories of so many people that you have bullied like me will never be forgotten.” In the same post, two other people commented that they were also victims of Ji Soo.
On Korean TV channel KBS viewers’ rights center, a petition was filed urging KBS to remove Ji Soo from the drama due to the allegations. The petition garnered 7,114 signatories.
On March 4, Ji Soo admitted that he committed school violence, writing on Instagram that “I sincerely apologize to those who suffered because of me. There is no excuse for my past misconduct. These were actions that could not be forgiven.”
At the time, episode six of the drama had already aired on March 2 and Korean media reported that 90 percent of “River Where the Moon Rises” had already been filmed with Ji Soo completing 18 of the 20 episodes.
On March 5, KBS and drama production company Victory Contents announced that Ji Soo was removed from the drama.
KBS said it recognized the seriousness of the incident involving Ji Soo and reviewed plans including cancelling the drama. However, it decided otherwise owing to the viewers who loved the drama and to the numerous staff, actors and the production company.
Na In-woo accepted the role of On Dal and started appearing from episode seven of the drama.
On April 1, Victory Contents filed a 3 billion won (about $2.66 million) lawsuit for damages against KeyEast, the agency of Ji Soo, over the “River Where the Moon Rises” controversy.
The lawsuit is aimed at recovering the damages from additional production costs as the drama had to be reshot. Victory Contents said it suffered damages such as staff expenses, venue and equipment rental fees, appearance fees and production design expenses due to reshooting of the drama. It also cited decrease in viewership ratings, decrease in expected sales and damage to the company’s image.