|Actor Choi Min-sik / Courtesy of C-Jes Entertainment
By Kwak Yeon-soo
Choi Min-sik, one of the most successful movie stars in Korea, has officially signed on to star in the Disney+ original series, "King of Savvy," previously reported to be titled, "Casino."
"King of Savvy" is a crime action drama about a casino mogul who takes risks and tries to get back into the game. It will be written and directed by Kang Yoon-sung, who helmed "The Outlaws," and is reported to have a budget of over 20 billion won ($16.7 million).
While Choi has remained active in the film industry, "King of Savvy" is Choi's first TV project in 24 years, since he starred in MBC's 1997-98 drama, "Love and Separation."
The 59-year-old actor received crucial acclaim for his role in the 2003 action thriller, "Oldboy," and achieved commercial success with his role in the 2014 film, "Roaring Currents," which is by far the highest-grossing film in Korea, with over 17 million admissions.
Most recently, Choi played a terminally ill prisoner in "Heaven: To the Land of Happiness," which was in the official selection for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival.
Choi is the only confirmed cast member so far, but a slew of other actors are reported to be in talks to appear in "King of Savvy." They include: Heo Sung-tae and Kim Joo-ryung, who recently shot to fame for their roles in "Squid Game," as well as Lee Dong-hwi and Jo Jae-yoon. Once the cast is finalized, the crime action drama will start filming in late February.
It is likely to be the first K-drama that will be exclusively available on the Disney+ platform, although "Snowdrop," from JTBC, has already premiered on Disney+.
Disney+ entered the Korean market in November 2021 and has since promised to invest in creating Korean content. Some of the recent Korean shows on Disney+ include: "Outrun by Running Man" and "Blackpink: The Movie."
However, it faces fierce competition from global rival Netflix and local over-the-top streaming platforms, such as Wavve and Watcha. The company has received complaints about the low-quality subtitles and alleged history distortion surrounding the JTBC period romance, "Snowdrop."
"There is a tremendous appetite globally for high-quality Asian content and original stories with great cultural resonance. We will continue investing in the best content and collaborating with the most sought-after creative talent and storytellers in the region so that they can shine on the world stage," Jessica Kam-Engle, Disney's head of content and development for the Asia Pacific region, said in a statement.
"King of Savvy" will be released on Disney+ sometime in 2022.