Daniel Dae Kim Breaks Silence on His Decision to Leave 'Hawaii Five-0': 'The Path to Equality Is Rarely Easy'
By Leanne Aguilera
Daniel Dae Kim is breaking his silence about his decision to leave Hawaii Five-0 just days before season eight is set to go into production.
Kim, who has starred as Chin Ho Kelly on the hit CBS drama since the series' premiere in 2010, took to his Facebook page on Wednesday morning to confirm the reports that he is exiting Hawaii Five-0 amid salary disputes.
"By now many of you have heard the news, and I’m sad to say it is true," Kim writes. "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."
According to Variety, both Kim and Grace Park had been seeking pay equality with stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, but were unable to reach satisfactory deals with CBS Television Studios, which produces the series. Sources say CBS’s final offer to Kim and Park was believed to have been 10-15% lower than what O’Loughlin and Caan make in salary.
Park, who has yet to speak out on social media, also decided to leave Hawaii Five-0, and her character Kono Kalakaua, will not appear in the upcoming eighth season as well. Both characters’ absence will be referenced in the season premiere.
In a statement to ET, CBS said, "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."
Kim says that he feels "deeply thankful" to his Hawaii Five-0 crew, writers and everyone associated to the show and adds that his co-stars have "been nothing but supportive through this entire process." Kim also names Hawaii Five-0 executive producers Peter Lenkov, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and thanks them for "their faith in me to bring Chin Ho Kelly to life."
He writes, "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."
Kim continues, "I’ll end by saying that though transitions can be difficult, I encourage us all to look beyond the disappointment of this moment to the bigger picture. The path to equality is rarely easy. But I hope you can be excited for the future. I am."
"There is a lot of dialogue these days about diversity and representation onscreen and the roles that Asian Americans are getting to play, and though I agree with the general point of the lack of representation and the stereotypes that are out there for us, I have to say that I’ve been lucky to have played a character like Chin Ho," Kim said. "He’s had a lot of different kinds of storylines. He’s been involved in a romantic storyline, he’s been involved with action, and he’s been involved with friendship and family. These are all things that we all long to do as actors."
The 48-year-old actor continued, "I really hope that Chin Ho is one color in a spectrum that Asian Americans are getting to play, and I hope that there’s more and I hope that there’s better and that it’s a movement. I hope that all of us who are on TV representing right now are just the shoulders that others can stand on in the future."
When asked if Kim has an expected end date for his time on Hawaii Five-0, the actor was candid about his future. "There will be a time where I’ll want to try something new and different. I’m not sure when that time will be, but I’m sure it will coincide with the life cycle of our show," he said. "We’ll have to see. I’m enjoying working on this show in a way that I haven’t in the past, and there’s a comfort level here that will be irreplaceable. At the same time, the nature of television is that shows get canceled, shows move forward, people move on and I’m aware of that as well."