When Hawaii Five-0 returns for its eighth season, it will be without two of its veteran cast members, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. CBS announced that the two actors have decided to leave the show.
Lost actor Daniel Dae Kim, who plays Chin Ho Kelly, and Grace Park, who plays Kona "Kono" Kalakaua, have been series regulars since the action police procedural series premiered in 2010 as a grittier reboot of the 1968 show that lasted for 12 seasons. The news of their sudden departure will surely surprise fans who have been following the show for seven seasons.
As reported by Variety, in a statement released by CBS, it was stated that the absence of the two characters would be explained in the upcoming season premiere. Executive producer Peter Lenkov also spoke about the actors' departure from the series:
Needless to say, Daniel has been an instrumental part of the success of Hawaii Five-0 over the past seven seasons and it has personally been a privilege to know him. Grace’s presence gave Hawaii Five-0 a beauty and serenity to each episode. She was the consummate collaborator, helping build her character from Day 1. They will always be ohana to us, we will miss them and we wish them both all the best.
Though CBS gave no explanation for the actors' decision, Variety reports that both Park and Kim were making 10 to 15 percent less than the show's two stars Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan, and were seeking pay equality. However, neither actor was able to reach a satisfactory deal with CBS.
With the way things were left in the season 7 finale, the door was already open for the characters to leave, which might make their departure somewhat easier for the writers to explain. Park's character, Kono, left the team to fight a sex-trafficking ring, while Kim's character, Chin, was considering a job offer to lead his own task force in San Francisco. Another cast member, Masi Oka, who had been a recurring character in season 1 and a regular ever since, also left the show during the seventh season.
Though some fans are likely to be disappointed, it's too early to know how much the loss of the two regulars will hurt the show's ratings, or if it will affect the series' chances at getting renewed for a ninth season.
Season 8 of Hawaii Five-0 will premiere Friday, September 29 on CBS.