|Cast members of JTBC's new series "Legal High" gesture during a news conference previewing the drama at the Imperial Palace Hotel in southern Seoul, Thursday, a day before its first episode aired. "Legal High" follows hit drama "SKY Castle" that wrapped up its last episode with a record-high cable network viewership of 22 percent earlier this month. Courtesy of JTBC|
'Legal High' tries to break out of shadow of 'SKY Castle'
By Kang Aa-young
JTBC's new series "Legal High" had a smooth start, attracting an average 3 percent viewership for the first two episodes that aired on Friday and Saturday.
The courtroom comedy-drama, a remake of Japanese Fuji TV's same-name hit drama, drew much attention when it was previewed, mainly because of its highly successful predecessor, "SKY Castle," which created much buzz.
"Legal High" revolves around two lawyers― young, greedy trial lawyer Go Tae-rim, played by Jin Goo, who would do anything to win his cases, and fearless, righteous paralegal Seo Jae-in (Seo Eun-soo).
Director Kim Jeong-yeon admitted he and cast members have been under pressure while shooting the series.
During a news conference at the Imperial Palace Hotel in southern Seoul on Thursday, Kim said he has been asked many times if he faced pressure because of "SKY Castle."
"Those who were involved in the TV series and my acquaintances asked me if I felt pressure because of the highly successful drama, so I am familiar with this kind of question," Kim said. "To be honest, I don't care much about it. 'SKY Castle' and 'Legal High' are two very different dramas."
He was cool on the unprecedented success of "SKY Castle." "We just did our best to make ours work and appeal to viewers," Kim said."The high viewership of the previous drama was not a factor that added any pressure on me. It may sound rude to those who were involved in 'SKY Castle,' but we are trying our best to keep focusing on our drama, rather than being distracted by the previous one's success."
Kim said the real pressure was about how he could differentiate the Korean remake from its Japanese original series that was very successful there.
"Yes, I felt enormous pressure in the beginning," he said. "We decided to remake the Japanese series because it was very successful there. So the question was how we could make ours as successful as the original drama."
Kim said he met fellow producers who have experience in remaking TV series to get inspiration and changed scripts several times before reaching the conclusion that he and cast members would do it their way.
Veteran actor Lee Soon-jae, who plays a legal assistant for the young lawyer Go Tae-rim, was confident "Legal High" would break out of the shadow of "SKY Castle" and the original Japanese series.
"I think viewers had better not see the original series," he said. "Cast members of the Korean series are great and I think we can outperform the original series. I am positive that we can create a whole new drama."
Lee's role is drawing much attention. He plays Goo Se-jung, who has extensive experience across the world. "At the moment, I don't know why he is being an assistant for the young lawyer in the law office," he said."This is a mystery. I think the secret will be untangled soon and his role will be much greater than simply serving the lawyer."
For Jin Goo, best known for his role in the SBS mega-hit series "Descendants of the Sun," it is the first time he has played in a comedy-drama. He said he is a fan of the original series and happy to work with other great cast members in the show.
"In the Korean remake version, there's some seriousness, unlike the original comedy," he said."I hope you can focus on differences, and I hope viewers can find what it is."
It is also the first time Seo Eun-su has taken a lead role. Shehas played some great supporting roles, including in KBS drama "My Golden Life," which once surpassed 40 percent in viewership ratings.
"I'm very passionate in my first lead role," Seo said."I will do my best to show some difference."
Aiming to shine a spotlight on the reality of the Korean legal system, the remake comedy-drama successfully took its first step over the weekend.
"Legal High" airs on Friday and Saturday at 11 p.m.